Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Much has been made over the new administration and their plans to re-vitalize the sagging economy. One of the features has been expressed as a desire to improve the economy by enhancing the existing infrastructure.

I am certain that there are many bridges, highways, and other public facilities which could use repair, updating, resurfacing, etc.. After the first 1000 miles of my trip, I reflected upon which part of my travels would be affected by these improvements. Granted, I was exposed, so far, to a very limited part of the overall picture, but, I was generally impressed by the work done by the states of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska to maintain their rights of way and insure my safe passage.

I have a dislike for interstate highway travel and stick pretty much to the other federal, state and, in some cases, even county roads. I plan trips based on mileage and not speed. I find it more leisurely and tend to stay more alert when driving the back roads as opposed to the mind numbing boredom of the interstate. I also enjoy the opportunity to eat in the tiny downtown cafes where the dress code is bib overalls and the food is plain yet delicious. It’s also an opportunity to observe how the locals built their porch, or the density—or lack—of animal populations and crop assignment, or how cleverly they disguise their mail boxes. I also get to drive by some really meaningless, yet interesting, stuff like the “world’s largest ball of twine” which I saw yesterday in Cawker City, Kansas. It wasn’t meaningless to the guy who started it back in 1953.

Through it all, the evidence of a need for infrastructure improvement seems more like a need to throw money at contractors and other huge corporate entities than a device to enhance employment and actually improve what we already have. It is possible that my criticism is based on too small a sample and largely away from the bulging urban centers of the east coast which by virtue (?) of a large population, use is more abusive of the public facilities they have. Out in the “sticks”, the locals tend to keep things up extremely well.

I realize that it is not our job to run this show but I am also aware of who’s going to pay for it. Yep, it will be the same folks who always put up the front money for these lavish federal programs: you and I.

In Boston, the infamous “Big Dig” project was originally slated to be an obscene $6 billion dollar affair. Subsequent cost overruns amounted to an increase over the original by—are you ready—$16,000,000,000.00. It was also accompanied by a seven-year extension of the estimated time for completion. Many little things were overlooked by the original planners such as failing to notice the 19,000 plus seat Fleet Center. It was not a “vacant lot” as was indicated on the working plans! Such errors were the rule and not the exception. This, dear readers, is improving infrastructure at work.

The opportunity for waste, fraud, greed, corruption, and outright criminal activity is rife. I will admit my understanding of economics is shaky at best but it seems to me that when money is tight, you are better advised to quit spending. At least cut back until rosier times arrive. Enriching contractors, architects, and other highly paid fat cats is not a viable answer. Maybe they could go to Cawker City and get some down home advice for a possible solution.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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