This is from the James Fallows online column in yesterdays Atlantic. Former Atlantic guest-blogger Tony Comstock writes in, about the infrastructure challenge:
A friend who is a motorhead, and an Eisenhower and infrastructure fan sums up the majesty of America socio-economic infrastructure thusly:
You're working on your 1972 F150 it needs a new whats-it.
You go down to the local auto parts store and say "I need a new whats-it for my F150"
"Oh, 1972. We're gonna have to order one of those," the parts guy says, his voice apologizing for and conveying a sense of inconvenience.
"Oh. How long will it take to get one?"
"Tomorrow morning at the earliest," he'll say gravely. "Maybe tomorrow afternoon."
People have no idea how convenient their lives are, or how much opportunity cost is not lost and human capital is not lost because we have a socio-economic system that can get you a whats-it for a 1972 F150 in 12-24 hours. And yes, we're pissing it away.
The graphic illustrates the decline in infrastructure spending (from the Fallows column). The time period is rather limited - - is the recent decline part of a long-term decline or an adjustment to an "infrastructure bubble" caused by the expansion during the housing bubble?