I don’t know how many people have read the satirical newspaper The Onion, but it is certainly a great way to spend some procrastination time. I was on the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) website and I saw a link to this post. It may be for entertainment (I know I was chuckling), but like many of The Onion Articles, this story has some truth in it. The U.S.’s infrastructure is pretty bad compared to many top world economic countries out there. Our metropolitan cities house many citizens and yet the inner-cities are often synonymous with slums and poverty. Since the soldiers came back from WWII, many families with enough wealth have decided to move out of the city into Suburbs full of wide open spaces, nice green lawns and two-car garages. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually grew up in a suburban community, so I know how great it is to grow up in such an environment. But in this day and age, as the population increases exponentially, more and more people are starting to move back into the heart of cities, and when this happens, the U.S. needs to be prepared to house all these urban arrivals and provide suitable utilities and a clean environment for living in. Part of the reason people avoid living in cities is because of the large amount of poverty and overall sense of claustrophobia and dirtiness, but I think this can be changed if the government would spend less time on mingling in international affairs for a bit (especially on the military side) and start investing money into renewing urban infrastructure so that we won’t have an environmental/resource crisis on our hands. Making city living more attractable and affordable will lessen the need for cars and greenhouse gas emissions (thereby promoting healthy living by walking and exercising) and might even increase the overall sense of community by bringing everyone closer together. It’s not just money that needs to be reinvested (although that’s a big factor these days), I think Politicians should start focusing their efforts on domestic policies that promote urban renewal and bring national attention to these issues. Urban renewal shouldn’t be the last thing on the list of to-do’s that can afford to have budget cuts, because as time goes on, the U.S. will start lagging behind other nations. Overpopulation is a huge issue and is the cause of many other environmental and economic concerns and while private institutions can try their best to fix some problems, Cities are ruled by the government. I don’t normally like to involve myself in politics, but this is one issue I feel somewhat strongly in.
And it’s not just cities that need reworking. Transportation infrastructure certainly needs to be looked at. While many east-coast cities do a good job of maintaining and improving subway systems and such, the west coast (I’m looking at you, California) and the rest of the country don’t always have the easily accessible public transportation such as buses, street cars and high-speed rails. If we improve transportation, we can lesson greenhouse gases and stop expanding to natural regions. I think we need to stop thinking about expanding and spreading and more about doing as much as we can with what we have now. It seems contradictory that I am promoting less expansion while saying we need to build more high-speed rails, but I think that’s an important investment and should be done carefully with minimal environmental impact, but I really think that’s something that money should be going towards.
But who should listen to me? These are just the humble opinions of a naive college student with very little understanding of the workings of government and policy making. I just think that the U.S. should make infrastructure renewal a priority to reduce energy/resource consumption and improve standards of living for all citizens.