Writing for The Atlantic, Michael Mandel argues that the country is heading for an infrastructure crash.
"[I]n the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, budget austerity may offer an opportunity to rethink our priorities and consider our vision for the future of infrastructure. The big question is: Do we want to build roads, bridges, harbors and airports to support the current consumption- and import-oriented economy? Or should we focus infrastructure spending to encourage the shift to a more sustainable production- and export- oriented economy?
The shift from a consumption economy to a production economy is probably the most important--and most difficult--task that the U.S. faces. The clearest sign of the problem is the apparently intractable trade deficit. Over the past ten years, the country has run up a cumulative deficit of $5.7 trillion with the rest of the world, and there's no sign of that reversing any time soon. To put it a slightly different way, the U.S. imports almost as much goods ($1.9 trillion in 2010) as the country produces (value-added of $2.2 trillion in manufacturing, mining, and agriculture)."