Those words have been the motto for the Boys Scout movement for decades. In recent years, it seems obvious that not many of the political leaders in the United States were former scouts – or if they were, they clearly have forgotten this message.
The COVID pandemic of 2020 highlighted just how unprepared our country (and many others) were in terms of health care facilities. We watched as the Corps of Engineers converted hotels, convention centers, and even parking lots into make-shift triage and emergency care units. Ventilators and personal protective equipment were also on short supply.
Last week, the cold front that hit Texas caused widespread power outages and a real humanitarian crisis – all within a matter of days! I was surprised to learn that our entire country runs from three power grids and one of those is dedicated to Texas. Years ago, the state chose to separate from the federal grid to avoid certain regulations. Obviously, state leaders failed to institute certain safeguards as well. First things first – lets help the people of Texas get back on their feet.
But it is well beyond time for leaders at the local, state, and federal levels to start seriously funding infrastructure development in a wide variety of areas. Almost two years ago, MBI wrote a whitepaper about the impending national construction crisis. In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. a grade of D+ on its overall infrastructure assessment. This report card generated every four years showed the exact same grade in 2013.
The report highlighted the need to invest in water, sewer, bridges, highways, and schools. But the report did not even include housing, which we all know is at crisis levels now.
Rather than fighting over what may or may not be in a green new deal, maybe we should get down to business and make progress on some of these fronts. Experts say that U.S. infrastructure currently is underfunded, with a funding gap of more than $2 trillion needed by 2025.
But let’s be bold! Start with a ten year, ten trillion investment in infrastructure. Housing, schools, healthcare, high speed internet, high speed rail, emergency preparedness, and an all-of-the above approach to energy. In 2019, renewable energy sources accounted for about 11% of all consumption in the U.S. and 17% of electricity generation. It’s not out of reach to move that figure to 25% -30% within the next decade.
Let’s incentivize our manufacturers, contractors, and suppliers to invest and innovate to be able to deliver in these sectors.
Let’s create tens of thousands of good paying jobs, regardless of union affiliation, with good salaries and benefits and safe working conditions.
And let’s train the next generation of workers on industrialized construction practices to help reach these goals.
We cannot afford to wait any longer.
Started on February 22, 2021 by Tom Hardiman