Apr 12, 2021
This country’s capitalist class has let critical infrastructure go to seed for decades. Drivers in Michigan see it in front of them every day—watch out for those potholes! AAA says the potholes we don’t avoid cost drivers 3 billion dollars in damage to their cars every year.
Then there was that downtown bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis that collapsed in 2007, or the massive dam in California that required hundreds of thousands to evacuate.
The city of Flint still doesn’t have clean water, half a decade on. Chicago’s transit system has 13 billion dollars worth of “deferred maintenance,” according to its chief.
The American Society of Civil Engineers says that the country must spend at least 2.59 trillion dollars to shore up infrastructure over the next decade. Biden just announced a 2.3 trillion dollar spending plan, supposedly to take on the problem. But only 1.3 trillion is slated to go toward infrastructure, meaning this bill at most covers half of what’s necessary—assuming it passes, and goes where it’s supposed to. And where will that money go, really?
Half a trillion is set aside for “Training and Research and Development.” What does this mean? The federal government proposes to spend billions to train workers in advanced manufacturing techniques, an expense the companies would otherwise have to spend themselves. And it proposes to spend 140 billion dollars to develop technologies—that it will hand over to those same manufacturers to profit from, just as it did with the coronavirus vaccines for the pharmaceutical companies. Billions of whatever does get passed will go straight to padding the bottom line of all kinds of contracting firms with connections to state, county and city politicians.
In Chicago, work on the Jane Byrne interchange, also known as the “Circle,” began in 2013 with a budget of $535 million dollars, to be finished in the summer of 2018. Projected costs have risen to $713 million, with the finish line pushed back to 2022—for now. Big area construction firms, like Walsh, get the biggest take.
This latest infrastructure bill does nothing to truly address the nation’s infrastructure. In reality, it’s just another corporate bailout bill.