This will appear in the Bernice Banner, Bernice Louisiana the week of 3/13/2016

Several years ago I wrote about our crumbling infrastructure, how we got here and what the future held for us.  Recently reality began to be understood as articles have begun appearing in the press.  Unfortunately for the residents of North Louisiana this ability to address infrastructure issues will be brought to the forefront as recent flooding will tax the ability to perform road and bridge repairs.

When America came home from World War II the country was in a perfect position to become a leader of world manufacturing and a center for economic growth.  Our former foes in Europe and the Pacific had extremely large destruction within its country.  America’s allies had sustained damage to their country and the ability to move to a peacetime economy would have its’ challenges.  Across the oceans from the devastation of World War II, America had immense natural resources, a workforce of both male and female, an air of invincibility and not one bomb had fallen within the boundaries of the country.  America was in a position to take a quick and large position in the world economic stage.

While Russia was retooling its manufacturing industry and building a new form of government, while Germany was trying to exist and slowly build its’ homes, schools and factories, while England and France was rebuilding bombed our factories and Japan was investigating how to reverse engineer radios and place cheap miniatures on American markets, the United States was in full manufacturing mode churning out cars, refrigerators, televisions and of course jobs.

America had built a highway system that was next to none in the history of the world.  The interstate system not only connected the country but it also would serve as landing strips and staging points for B-52 bombers in case the Soviet Union had destroyed American bases with nuclear weapons.  A naïve approach to fighting a World Aar III but nonetheless America had a monumental federal highway system.  Schools had been built, bridges erected, dams spanned rivers and dirt roads were paved as America’s universities received large funding to build infrastructure.  As projects were completed America’s politicians had to make a decision; to continue with the current tax base and shift where the money is spent or reduce the tax base.

America is a benevolent country.  With a strong and new infrastructure in place the attention of the country shifted to social programs.  As time went by these programs expanded and even more money was required and the tax base was expanded.  Over time metal corrodes, roads break down and schools deteriorate.  Mother nature has a way to reclaim its’ own and over time what man has built must be replaced.  This is where America is today.  Strong social programs but small financial resources available to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.  So what to do?  This is going to be difficult.  Do we expand our tax base, raise taxes and tax those that are not being taxed today and then choke the growth of the country while America rebuilds itself?  Or do we cut back on social programs to fund the disintegrating country? But then what programs get cut.   Perhaps a little negotiating from both taxes and program reduction will be required.  A third solution will be to do nothing, hide our heads in the sand and talk of the good ole days as the pot holes get bigger, bridges get patched when condemned and students go to continually tainted classrooms.

It will be interesting to see the impact of the recent Louisiana flood and how the economy responds.  State funds are running low with regulatory constraints from the federal government hurting the offshore oil programs.  Today this oil and gas industry is in disarray with tumbling oil prices.  Tax revenues in Louisiana has plummeted and social programs are placing a financial burden on the state’s economy.  The floods we have just experienced has caused a great infrastructure breakdown.  Roads have washed out, bridges destroyed or damaged and homes flooded.  There will certainly be some tough decisions to be made and hopefully federal assistance will come quickly to the state.

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