Economic Infrastructure

There are several sectors that constitute economic infrastructure. Some are real infrastructure like roads, the electric grid, but others are not typically seen as infrastructure. The housing market, for example, is not typically seen as infrastructure, but it is part of the economic infrastructure—a necessity to building economic prosperity.

Other examples of economic infrastructure are healthcare, education, and media. In order to build economy, people need health, they need a knowledge base, and they need to filter new information through that knowledge base to keep it healthy and current.

The importance of economic infrastructure is two-fold. First, it provides the same support role that traditional infrastructure provides: it girds the other social and economic activities of a society. It allows commerce to operate efficiently and with routine expectations that fade into the background of life, letting those engaged in other activities focus on their local problems and challenges. Second, just like traditional infrastructure, it creates a base of economic activity to itself. This base activity furnishes a minimum and continuous economy that can cushion the dynamic economy that sits atop it. Even when downturns occur, children continue to go to school, medical practices continue to operate, and housing is still needed for all inhabitants.

Those that argue, for example, for Medicaid expansion in the states, are arguing for improvements to the economic infrastructure. As with traditional infrastructure, more developed societies should expect and require advanced economic infrastructure. A modern society could not function without a network of paved roads, nor should it attempt to function without schools, universal healthcare, and other robust forms of economic infrastructure.

Even the Internet, while built of physical infrastructure, also includes volumes of economic infrastructure in the forms of protocols and software, much of it open source, which allows for interoperability that supports massive economies.

In seeking to shore up traditional infrastructure, it is important to do the same with these institutional, economic structures that are as important to the modern economy.

Welcome to the Trump Years

Officially, now, Donald John Trump the First is the 45th President of the United States of America. He has 1460 days to make America great again, which means:

  • Raising 30,000 people up from poverty per day
  • Legalize and stabilize some 7500 undocumented immigrants per day
  • Rehabilitate and release some 1500 state and federal prisoners per day
  • See 17,000 undereducated individuals achieve at least a GED per day
  • Employ or improve the employment of 11,200 unemployed or underemployed persons per day
  • Repair or replace 41 bridges per day, among other infrastructure improvements needed
  • Cut the carbon emissions another 1.25% per year to reach the 17% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020

And so on.

It will not be an easy task, and it will be all the harder for the resistance to greatness that the Republican party loyalists in Congress cling to. They seek not to address these problems with an eye to solution, but instead to focus on limited agendas to improve the bottom lines of a few corporations.

If President Trump truly wants to make America great, he will have to stave off the legislative assassins who will gut any real reforms he might seek.

Greatness is not a measure of the stock market. It is not found on balance sheets. It is quantifiable, but only in the quantity of humans who are prosperous. And prosperous not for a day, a week, a month, a year, or a presidential term, but for their lives. For their children’s lives. And on down the road.

If President Trump does not address the measures above, and others, he will not have succeeded in making America great. He will be held to that standard by history. He can either go down as another in a line of those he would say to, “You had four years, and yet you did not succeed.”

It is a weighty task. There is much to be done. But it is doable. It has always been doable. It will take a lot of work, but any president that is willing to put in the effort can achieve great things.

So, go ahead, punk. Make America great. I dare Trump. I double-dog dare Trump. What is Trump, a chicken? Bok-bok!

Whatever happened during the 2016 election, Trump is now president. He ran to make the country great, to shed the shrouds that have weakened us. Now he must perform.

The Obama Investment: A Player Piano?

President-elect Obama has one thing right as he gives his weekly addresses: we need some change, and we need to act swiftly and appropriately with this economic crisis.  His response is appropriate, on its face: increase demand and market liquidity by investing in infrastructure.

But his call to build and repair roads and bridges will be the greatest missed opportunity since President Bush squandered our spiritual capital with our allies in the wake of September 11, 2001.  It will be a waste not on par with the bailouts still being meted and even still being formulated in terms of dollars spent, but certainly in terms of misdirection.

We should commit some amount of any infrastructure-building program to include public transportation.  To not so do is to break the promise still ringing from the Flash player: ‘build jobs, improve infrastructure, decrease dependence on oil, become more efficient, and increase America’s competitiveness in the world.’  Every single criteria he gives is met by investment in public transportation and in every case it is met better than by building and repairing roads.

I believe in hope and change, but it needs to be real change, not just a Player Piano.  We need new directions and industries.  Trying to tread water for a whole century is not going to cut it.  Bailing out Detroit will not cut it.  Walk the walk.  Some of what he says is real change.  Increased investment in technology will be a welcome change.  Upgrades to public institutions such as government buildings and schools are great.  Even pushing hospitals to become more wired, which fits nicely with the prospect of radical changes to our health care system in the next four years.

And some roads do need fixing.  We do not want to imperil anyone through lack of investment in our existing infrastructure.

But we must begin to add rails to the mix.  The sooner we do this crucial change in attitudes will begin to take place.  People will start to see property values rise.  New enclaves of shops can be born around the stops and routes the light rails take.  It will become cheaper to add more down the rail once we’ve gotten rolling.

Right now, when it can be had for less money, when production can be ramped up, and when shops that are closed due to the downturn are ripe for retooling.  Right now is the right time.  But does Obama have the Right Stuff?

Thomas Friedman on Nation Building

Via Electoral-vote.com: The New York Times has an opinion piece by Thomas FriedmanWho Will Tell the People?. EV summarized as follows:

It is how we need a President who is willing to get on TV at 8 P.M. and tell the American people the truth–that America is headed in the wrong direction–and that allies and competitors are catching up fast.

Not 3 am, Hillary, but 8 pm. I wonder if that’s East or West coast?

Anyway, a taste from the Friedman editorial:

If all Americans could compare Berlin’s luxurious central train station today with the grimy, decrepit Penn Station in New York City, they would swear we were the ones who lost World War II.

We don’t really see the kind of purpose or drive you want to see from our country. Certain cities get a modicum of try every now and then. To hear the politicians tell it we can’t afford anything but wars and tax breaks for the wealthy anymore.

Anyway, worth the read; that last line hit the nail and the vibrations have traveled up my elbow so I’ll cut it here.