The Loss of American Ingenuity

Paul Krugman points out something real interesting in the NYT: America Goes Dark

Money quote:

The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno.

Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.

The rest of the article unfortunately doesn’t really discuss the bolded part – which I think is of key importance. I mean think about it… when was the last time you heard America in the news for the development of some massive industrial project? The prosperity of the late 19th early 20th centuries was built on these massive industrial projects like the Hoover Dam and the transcontinental railway. We should be leading the world in massive industrial development. I mean there are thousands of projects we could tackle at the national level through investment. Some of this has already started – with new energy investment and things like the high speed trains in California. But seriously, its just not enough. We need projects that galvanize national consciousness and that are continuously broadcast in national publications to remind us of our capability to create new things. This type of mentality is the spirit of the American identity. Anyway… more on this later.

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