First-World Country, Third-World Roads

On September 8th, President Obama threw down the gauntlet to Republicans, proposing a $400-plus billion package of measures — tax cuts, infrastructure spending, federal handouts — designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs.  Over the years, I’ve grown weary of Obama’s all-talk-no-action approach, but I can’t deny that his American Jobs Act makes a ton of sense.  Even Republicans should agree (at least the ones who aren’t determined to disagree with Obama on anything and everything), because, the everything in Obama’s proposal has been supported by Republicans, and Obama went to great lengths to point out this fact.

You can read Obama’s full speech here, but to me, here is the most important part of the American Jobs Act:

1)  Here is a road.  It is old and full of cracks, causing cars to ruin their suspension and motorcyclists to fall off their bikes.

2)  Here is a man.  He is out of work, so he cannot afford to go to restaurants and buy videogames.

3)  Hey — why don’t we hire the man to fix the road?

Our roads and bridges are in disgraceful shape. They remind me of the pothole-ridden roads I used to see growing up in Metro Manila.  Honestly, I think the roads around Metro Manila nowadays are in better condition than some of the roads and highways around Palo Alto.  I see construction projects all over the place, but they don’t seem to leave our infrastructure in any better condition.  So how can anyone argue with that?  Why are so many Republicans still opposed to infrastructure spending to create jobs?  Here’s why:

This is a photo of a road that Alfie takes to get to the freeway, on his way to work.  This road recently underwent a six-month storm drain improvement project.  For six months, residents and commuters were inconvenienced by detours and delays while bulldozers and loaders dug up the road, replaced the storm drains, and put down a new road.

Believe it or not, that is the “After” photo. If I had thought to take a “Before” photo, it would have looked exactly the same.

Granted, the main purpose of the project was storm drains, but if you’ve already dug up the road and are going to cover the new drains with a new road, why not do a good job? Why replace all the old bumps and cracks?  Why not do a good job?

I think that’s why (or partly why) Republicans aren’t embracing infrastructure spending.  And that’s why, despite the brilliant logic I outlined above, I’m a bit skeptical myself.  In theory, it’s brilliant.  And we have no choice — our roads have GOT to be fixed.  But I’ve seen far too much inefficiency, and far too few results, for me to believe that taxpayers would be getting the results they want.  Yes, the guy will get a job.  But will our roads get fixed?

When she’s not taking photos of potholes and stressing out about roads, Bonggamom can be found stressing out about her kids, her wardrobe, her health and her life on her personal blog, Finding Bonggamom.  You can check out her favorite stress-relieving products on her review blog, Bonggamom Finds.

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