Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Newly paved roads? Socialism! Pot holes? The triumph of freedom!

(A WPA work crew creating a road in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in April of 1938. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

Economist and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers recently wrote an op-ed advocating increased investment in our nation's infrastructure. Summers points out that such investment would help address a number of national problems, for example, unemployment and debt.

Summers highlights the need to modernize our nation's airports, and he also notes the current low interest rates that exist for government borrowing, and asks: "If now is not the moment to rebuild these airports, when will that moment ever come?" (And for those who don't understand how current borrowing can reduce long-term debt, read his piece.) Summers also highlights the problem of potholes after such a harsh winter, and how poor road conditions result in more repair costs for Americans.

An impediment to improving our nation's infrastructure, which Summers does not touch on, is the ever-increasing paranoia of "socialism" embedding itself in the right-wing movement. For example, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate recently said that democracy is socialism, and a Republican legislator in Ohio recently declared that "Public education in America is socialism." And anyone who follows news and politics knows that this is only the tip of the iceberg with respect to the "socialism" paranoia and rhetoric that emanates from the political right. Unless it pertains to the military or prisons, the political right is likely to block any proposals for increased public investment. In other words, things that honor the "common defense" clause of the U.S. Constitution are okay, but things that honor the "general welfare" clause are "socialism!"  

So, anyway, the next time you hit a pothole, remember to cry out in a victorious tone: "Freedom!!!"

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