Infrastructure and Shortsightedness

As Mike mentioned, I have recently written a very long article about infrastructure. There is much in the article that I wish I could have said more about and that I will expand upon in future work. So, among other things, I expect to throw a few ideas out on the blog.

And yet, as I sit here thinking about what to start with, I find myself gravitating toward another piece I recently wrote for Loyola’s faculty issue on Justice; the essay was titled Some Thoughts on Shortsightedness and Intergenerational Equity. The reasons I am leaning in this direction relate to my general concerns about how shortsighted we seem to be getting (as I discuss in the essay), but probably have more to do with recent events, especially those concerning Katrina and our numerous failures (e.g., to take preventative measures that we know we should have taken, to be prepared, to respond effectively, etc.). I should note that I say “our failures” intentionally. While it is easy (and accurate) to say that government failed (at the federal, state and local level), that is not enough. I should note that I agree with Larry Lessig’s post gifts from the other side that the failure of government in this case should prompt us to consider how we might improve government. But the failures are not only governmental failures. We, as a society, failed because we are unwilling to think long term, make the necessary sacrifices, and invest in building and maintaining/sustaining critical public infrastructure. We invest some, but not enough, and infrastructure is simply not sufficiently high on the list of priorities. We take infrastructure for granted. Shortsightedness is pervasive in our society, but it can be devastating when it leads to underinvestment in the infrastructures that support so much.

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