Tag Archives: infrastructure

Why Not a New WPA?

Sidewalk Lippitt Park

That’s a seventy-year-old sidewalk laid down by WPA workers in the Great Depression. Still sound, like a lot of the infrastructure work done then.

The New York Times business section puts in simple terms why stimulus money used wisely on needed repairs is smart policy…

Millions of Americans remain out of work only because employers can already produce more than enough to meet depressed demand. The obvious remedy is to increase total spending. Although economic stimulus has become a controversial topic in the abstract, a few simple observations should persuade every sensible legislator — perhaps even a majority! — to support a specific type of higher spending: accelerated refurbishment of our crumbling infrastructure.

Some in Congress have consistently opposed the president’s infrastructure proposals, citing the huge national debt. But that’s an incoherent objection. If repairs to the Capitol dome or a tattered stretch of interstate highway are postponed, they will just become more costly. Many job seekers have the skills for this work. If we wait, we’ll have to bid them away from other tasks. The required materials are cheaper now than they will ever be. And interest rates are at record lows.
Of course, the debt is an important long-run problem, but deferring infrastructure repairs will only worsen it. Relative to current policy, then, such projects would address multiple pressing problems without distress.

Pumping up consumption while neglecting essentials just means that the car we bought on credit gets dinged in the pothole we didn’t fix.

It’s true, Americans want jobs, but when we get past the desperate stage we want work that matters. The WPA created both jobs and useful work. Why not build on what we learned then at such cost?

Solar Saves When the Grid Goes Down

From today’s Scientific American, Solar Power Helped Keep the Lights on in India.

Every day, at least 400 million Indians lack access to electricity. Another nearly 700 million Indians joined their fellows in energy poverty over the course of the last few days, or roughly 10 percent of the world’s population.

Oddly enough, some of the formerly energy poor—rural villagers throughout the subcontinent—found themselves better off than their middle-class compatriots during the recent blackouts, thanks to village homes outfitted with photovoltaic panels. In fact, solar power helped keep some electric pumps supplying water for fields parched by an erratic monsoon this year.

Local and diverse, though David Biello, the author of the article, argues that we need to look at the grid in the USA, or else stock up on flashlight batteries. You can read the rest of his short and interesting blog post here.

And here’s from the financial magazine, Forbes…

While national renewable energy policies – or the lack there of – remain mired in Congressional election-year politics, the great green future has already arrived in California.

On Tuesday, state regulators announced that California’s three big investor-owned utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison – had reached a mandated target – called the renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, to obtain at least 20% of the electricity they sell from renewable sources.

In 2011, the three utilities collectively secured 20.6% of the electricity sold to retail customers from solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable power generation.

Perfect time for the USA to win the energy race and lead the world in more efficient and cheaper solar and renewable technology. We’ve done this kind of thing before, that’s why our flag waves on the moon. Now it’s time to get serious about planet earth.

Hi Neighbor!

Just time for a quick post. I drove to work at 8am this morning and got off Rt. 95 at the Elmwood Avenue exit. The radio was saying the highway was closed in Cranston and Warwick. Everything was copacetic on the streets I was driving on. I thought of the tales about the Indonesian tsunami. If you were one foot from where the wave ended you would be just fine.

My visits were in South Providence, North Providence, and Cranston off Cranston St. No problem anywhere. A few puddles, but I drove around them.

When I left work at 4:15pm, just South of Roger Williams Park, I reconsidered my plan to pick up Rt. 10 to Rt. 95 N. I was under the highway bridge and noticed that the cars were driving backwards–reversing their way to the off-ramp to Elmwood. I continued up Elmwood through downtown. The traffic was light. I had the radio on listening to reports of hellish traffic jams on 95.

Some of our neighbors got inundated. They can’t even go home until the water recedes. Some of our roads and bridges will need major repairs. We really didn’t need this trouble. Not in the middle of a recession with both the private and the public sector hurting.

Hi Neighbor. I hope you’re okay. We had a lot of rain and it’s a real mess. Let’s pull together.

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