Thursday, September 16, 2010

$50 Billion Worth Spending

Here's a letter I sent to the editor of Detroit's Free Press, September 15, 2010. I was encouraged to do so by Transportation for America

You should write one, too. We need better transportation in the U.S., for everyone, not just rich suburbanites. Otherwise, we'll end up with more third world problems than we already have: impoverished cities; a permanent, underemployed underclass; intolerable air pollution; expensive, unhealthy sprawl; billions of petro-dollars sent to other countries; and overwhelmingly expensive effects of global warming.
Your September 6th article, "Obama: Pour $50B into roads, rail to boost hiring," quoted Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., "Americans are rightly skeptical about Washington Democrats asking for more of their money and their patience.”

Considering the contempt Mr. McConnell bestows on any spending that serves the general good, such as health care and renewable energy that would cut consumers cost and create or retain domestic jobs, I think readers should be skeptical when Mr. McConnell claims to speak for them.

Our transportation sector is dilapidated, and $50 billion is only a drop in the bucket, as Mike Thompson pointed out in his enlightening op-ed piece "Help is welcome, but stimulus funds fall far short of state's needs." At best, Michigan will see $1.5 billion of that. And sadly, you can't build, or re-build, too many bridges with $1.5 billion these days.

But, much of the money for the proposed investment will be spent right away, creating badly needed jobs and stimulating our struggling economy. And, we need to stop sending billions to other countries to purchase oil, a large proportion of which is wasted on inefficient vehicles idling in traffic. We need better vehicles, and more important, we need rails, like every other industrialized country, if we want to save some of those oil billions, and live safer, healthier lives.

And, the truth is (according to polls), Americans are in favor of spending money on transportation -- but only when we know what that money will accomplish.

It’s been almost a year since the last transportation law expired, leaving the country with a decades-old broken, oil-dependent, unaccountable system.

Let’s spend some money at home instead of on overseas wars and tax breaks for millionaires as Mr. McConnell favors, and help everyone, including future generations, for a change.
Visit Transportation for America, and send a letter to your local newspaper editor.

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