We were all told during the pandemic in its early stages that there would be shipping delays that would disrupt supply chains due to the virus. That would be part of the fallout of not being able to have most workplaces at full capacity. We were also told that we needed to protect ourselves and our neighbors by being proactive, wearing masks, and other logical, sensible social distancing measures prior to the approval and availability of effective vaccines against COVID-19.
Fast forward to late October of 2021, where there are plenty of vaccines to go around that are effective, most Americans are partially or fully vaccinated and yet the delays persist. What gives? Simply, America’s aging infrastructure has been failing the country for a long time, but we were papering it over with stopgap measures and periodic rhetoric from politicians. The COVID-19 pandemic was the great equalizer – when the cracks could no longer be paved over, it became clear that the politicians were not up front with the scope of the problem so as to not arouse panic. The politicos in Washington routinely harp – and justifiably so – on the need for Humanity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That is especially difficult to do, however, in cities around the country where the existing infrastructure has not been meaningfully upgraded in decades and is entirely nonexistent in the rural parts of the country. Neither Donald Trump, nor Joe Biden have been able to pass – as of yet – infrastructure packages that would transform America. As somebody who travels fairly often on Amtraks’ Northeast Corridor, I have to say that it’s fundamentally embarrassing for the United States to not possess bullet trains. Even the Acela, the fastest train in America, which is supposed to hit speeds of 180 miles an hour, is not able to fully exercise its speed due to aging track along the route that cannot withstand the pounding of a train passing over it at 180 miles per hour, compelling the conductor to slow down the trains to speeds of 60 miles an hour or so. In other words, you can drive down the highway at a faster speed than America’s fastest train – meanwhile China, France, Japan and many other countries are quite literally leaving us in the dust.
It is not a solution to just tell people that they are wrong and that they must change everything about their lives and their routines without providing a viable alternative. That is how many people in this country consider themselves being spoken to – in a condescending way – and why they then vote in a way that shocks the system because they feel disrespected.
The roads, bridges, ports, airports, tunnels and everything in between in the United States on the infrastructure front has been a problem – and a major one for decades. Consumers are getting recommendations from retailers and shipping companies to place their orders for Christmas now, so that they have a better chance of coming on time – and even then with no guarantee – while the politicians in DC size up the situation to see how best to tweet blame and shout in the wind to score political points.
America deserves better from its politicians and from its infrastructure. Now that the United States is no longer in Afghanistan, let us pour the resources that were going to that costly – in many aspects – war, into our own backyard again.