Jim Crawford: U.S. infrastructure needs can not continue to go unaddressed

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 4, 2021

Our Republican friends would like you to worry about “cancel culture,” or “wokeness” or children’s books withdrawn for political correctness, or anything but the real issues of life in America today.

They want this because for the past 40 years they have offered you “conservative” political solutions like tax cuts for the rich and for corporations, excessive profits for hospitals and drug companies, inequality greater than the Roaring ‘20s, and needless wars that drained our national wealth.

But what they are not telling you is the world is leaving us behind in so many ways because the policies we have followed have left us weaker, not stronger. Here are some facts you need to know to understand why President Biden really does want to Build Back Better:

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In broadband speed, the U.S. (inventors of the Internet) ranks 25th according to Wikipedia. And we still have broadband blind spots across the nation.

In high-speed rail service (fast trains) we have one, Amtrak’s Acele Express. China leads the world with 23,000 miles of HSR, all of it built in the last 20 years.

In the U.S., pioneers of air travel, we have 102 International airports averaging 40 years of age and none younger than 20 years old. China has 65 International airports and is building eight new International airports every year. In three years, China will have the largest air travel network in the world.

In steel production, which implies construction and economic growth, China produces more than ten times the metric tons than the US, 996 million metric tons compared to U.S. production of 87.9 MMT.

In International ports the largest U.S. port is the 17th largest among other nations, not even in the top ten.

Solar energy became commercial when the U.S. Bell Labs created a silicon product in 1954, but we lost our leadership to China, a nation producing 205 GW of solar power today to our 76 GW.

In wind power, China ranks number one, producing 288 GW of power, while the U.S. produces less than half that amount at 122 GW.

The U.S. still leads in semiconductor manufacturing, but relies on the largest semiconductor plant in the world in Taiwan to fill our needs and shortfalls.

Our national highway system remains the largest on the planet, but its age and condition pose increasing dangers to travelers and truckers every year.

Beyond these types of infrastructure lie other areas where our country has looked away from opportunities to help our people prosper. Our childcare costs for couple’s average 25 percent of income, and for single parents 52 percent of income. Other developed nations subsidize these costs, with Denmark couple’s costs averaging 10.7 percent of earnings by comparison.

The poverty rate in the U.S. is number 45 of 172 nations with 15.1 percent of Americans under the national poverty rating.

More than 120 countries provide their citizens universal health care, with the U.S. the only developed nation not providing for every citizen.
31 countries offer a better chance at the American Dream than America. The opportunity for anyone to move to the top, to attain economic mobility is not nearly as good here as it is in neighboring Canada because our failure to address increasing economic inequality remains ignored by our politicians.

The Biden administration knows these facts, and knows that, as America has always done, we can rise to any challenge and change the outcome. We need all the programs, all the funding, all the jobs of Build Back Better.

When Republican senators tell us we do not need the Biden plan, what exactly do they offer to address the real challenges we face today?

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.