Repairing Our Infrastructure Will Be More Expensive Because We Have Neglected It

Golden Gate Bridge

Suppose you own a car. What do you think would happen if you decided not to perform any maintenance on it ever? No oil changes, tire rotations, or any other scheduled maintenance. Not only is your car going to break down, but when it does break down after this kind of neglect, you will almost certainly end up paying far more to repair it than you would have by following the maintenance schedule in the owner's manual. In fact, it might not have broken down at all if you had done what you were supposed to do.

This is how I see the infrastructure crisis currently facing the United States. We have been neglecting it for well over a decade, and now we (or at least the Republicans among us) are whining about the size of the bill. Had we been doing preventive maintenance and critical upkeep all along, we wouldn't be in this mess. We are in this mess because we've been neglecting our responsibilities for far too long. Of course it is going to be expensive now! We made sure of that through our neglect.

I can't help thinking about our infrastructure as a humanist issue in much the same way I think of the climate crisis as a humanist issue. Both involve promoting the common good, showing we give a damn about our surroundings and others who share them with us. And our refusal to act in both areas means that more will suffer unnecessarily. Leading the world on mitigating the effects of climate change should be a point of national pride, assuming we decided to do so. It would also be very good for our national security. Similarly, strengthening our infrastructure should be both a source of pride and something we can support because we recognize that it is vital to our national security and economy. The high price tag is our fault, so how about we commit to doing preventive maintenance in the future once we've fixed everything so we don't repeat this mistake?