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ONE MOTHER'S PERSPECTIVE

  • WHO WE ARE-Women did it again. The annual Memorial Day tradition of placing flowers on graves of fallen soldiers was begun by women in the South after the Civil War. Who knew? Who now remembers that it was originally Decoration Day? Or that it is a day to decorate the graves of soldiers who fought for a better future. Memorial Day is a great deal…
  • 453 Days Later...

    Tom Rubin
    OFFENSIVE BUT PROTECTED SPEECH-Welcome news this week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. By a vote of 11 to 1, the court overturned its injunction against the controversial video called "Innocence of Muslims" that it had ordered off YouTube back in February 2014. Here's the background. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia (photo below) was…
  • What LA Educators Should Learn From Bell Gardens High School’s Shocking Turnaround

    Jay Mathews
    VOICES FROM THE SQUARE-Bell Gardens High School in east Los Angeles County was a sorry mess when science teacher Liz Lowe arrived in 1989. It was overflowing with trailer classrooms and graffiti. More than 3,000 students crowded into school buildings surrounding a concrete quadrangle with patches of grass and some trees. Expectations were low. Not…
  • The Clean Sweep Election Finally Happened

    Bob Gelfand
    GELFAND’S WORLD- A few years ago, a group calling itself Clean Sweep argued that the voters of Los Angeles should defeat all the incumbents and replace them with fresh blood. On Tuesday, the results came close. There are two distinct lessons, one of which is quite ominous for elected officials. This election demonstrated the end of voter patience…
  • What Did Tuesday’s LAUSD Election Results Prove?

    Paul Hatfield
    PERSPECTIVE-Did the LAUSD election results signal a change for charter schools? Perhaps. Possibly. Maybe. You can make a decent case that Ref Rodriguez’s victory in District 5 points to strong support for charters. It was a battle between two well-funded candidates with diametrically opposed views on the issue. The effectiveness and fairness of…
  • (Train)ing Ourselves to Confront Modern Mass Transit

    Ken Alpern
    GETTING THERE FROM HERE-It's great to learn that Metro has an excellent new CEO with the hiring of Phillip A. Washington who comes to us from Denver. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Roger Snoble and Art Leahy, Mr. Washington has a first-rate reputation to maintain--but his first job will be to pass Measure R-2. Measure R-2 (perhaps…
  • City Controller’s Grandstanding DWP Audit is the Real Waste of Ratepayer Dollars

    Dennis Zine
    JUST THE FACTS-City Controller Ron Galperin’s Grandstanding DWP Audit results were finally released. Unfortunately, the conclusion and political spin that came afterwards from the controller was misleading. Here are the FACTS: The DWP’s Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute are administered by DWP managers and representatives of the…
  • A Place Where ‘Special Interest’ is NOT a Dirty Word

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-We need to have a new word to differentiate the villainous “Special Interest” that everyone is always complaining about and the “Special Interest” that almost all of politicians and civic and social activists have adopted as a cause. It is impossible to have passion about multiple issues. I know I have mentioned this before, but it seems…
  • Alert! America’s Small Businesses are Being Screwed by Big Business

    Robert Reich
    THE ECONOMY-Can it be that America’s small businesses are finally waking up to the fact they’re being screwed by big businesses? For years, small-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses have lined up behind big businesses lobbies. (Photo: small businesses in Studio City) They’ve contributed to the same Republican…

 

  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time…




Memorial Day 2015- Freedom Isn’t Free

J. Cole raps on the Letterman show: “Be Free’

The Star Spangled Banner … like you’ve never heard it before

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Inequality has Made Us a Pothole Nation

OTHERWORDS - Investing in infrastructure used to be a political no-brainer. Politicians of nearly every ideological stripe supported government spending on everything from school buildings to bridges.

The more conservative pols would typically favor highways, the more liberal preferred mass transit. But nearly all elected officials considered quality infrastructure essential. Businesses simply couldn't thrive, even conservatives understood, without it.
This consensus remains solid — among the American people. Only 6 percent of Americans, one poll last year found, consider infrastructure "not that important" or "not important at all." Among our politicians, it's a different story. Infrastructure has become a political hot potato. Congress can barely reach any consensus at all. Lawmakers have spent more than two years haggling over a bare-bones transportation bill.

Overall, U.S. infrastructure spending has declined dramatically. Back in 1968, federal outlays for basic infrastructure amounted to 3.3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. Last year, federal infrastructure investments made up only 1.3 percent of GDP. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that we would now need to spend $2.2 trillion over five years to adequately "maintain and upgrade" America's roads, dams, drinking water, school buildings, and the like.

But lawmakers in Congress are moving in the opposite direction. The House's 2013 budget, if adopted by the Senate, would force massive cutbacks in infrastructure investment.
●●●
Consider alternative ways to pay for infrastructure.
“How to Pay for Infrastructure”- Jonathan Tisch
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The impact of these cutbacks? Still more potholes, brownouts, and overcrowded classrooms and buses.

The irony in all this: We ought to be witnessing right now a historic surge in infrastructure investment. The cost of borrowing for infrastructure projects, the Economic Policy Institute's Ethan Pollack points out, has hit record lows — and the private construction companies that do infrastructure work remain desperate for contracts. They're charging less.

"We're getting much more bang for our buck than we usually do," says Pollack.
Yet our political system seems totally incapable of responding to the enormous opportunity we have before us. Center for American Progress analysts David Madland and Nick Bunker blame this political dysfunction on inequality.

The more wealth concentrates, their research shows, the feebler a society's investments in infrastructure become. Our nation's long-term decline in federal infrastructure investment — from 3.3 percent of GDP in 1968 to 1.3 percent in 2011 — turns out to mirror almost exactly the long-term shift in income from America's middle class to the richest Americans. And the U.S. states where the rich have gained the most at the expense of the middle class turn out to be the states that invest the least in infrastructure.

Why should this be the case? Madland and Bunker cite several dynamics at play. In more equal societies, middle classes will be more politically powerful. That matters because the middle class has a vested interest in healthy levels of infrastructure investment. Middle class families depend on good roads, public schools, and mass transit much more than rich families. Rich kids may attend private schools, and the ultra-wealthy can even commute by helicopter to avoid traffic congestion.

Some wealthy people, Madland and Bunker acknowledge, do see the connection between infrastructure and healthy economic development. But increased investment in infrastructure demands higher taxes, and lower tax rates have always been among the "more cherished priorities of the rich."

"When push comes to shove, infrastructure is likely to take a backseat to keeping taxes low," they posit. "There is a significant body of evidence that suggests a strong middle class is important for public investments."

Unequal societies — like the contemporary United States — have weak middle classes. That leaves Americans with a basic choice. We can press for greater equality. Or spend more time dodging potholes.

(Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the weekly Institute for Policy Studies newsletter on excess and inequality. Visit www.toomuchonline.org for a longer version of this essay.

(This column was provided to CityWatch by OtherWords.org a project of The Institute for Policy Studies.)
-cw

Tags: infrastructure, potholes, inequality, politics








CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 32
Pub: Apr 20, 2012

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