Our Infrastructure Inheritance

Oct 21 2012 @ 7:33pm

William Deresiewicz recalls the inconveniences of life in India:

[O]verflowing dumpsters; unpaved streets lined with garbage; smoldering trash fires; little rows of shanties tucked into corners of the neighborhood for the local servant class, the kind of miserable hovels that stretch for miles in places like Mumbai; and a small, polluted lake that no one in their right mind would have swum in. We never drank from the tap, of course; even certain kinds of produce were said to be unsafe. The phone was temperamental, too, and so was the television cable.

Watching the debates in the US over "you didn't build that" and American infrastructure, he draws a lesson about "what it’s like to live in a place where you can’t take public services for granted":

We have been able to live well, and do well, because we inherited a rich, well-functioning country, but for a long time now—I’m thinking of the tax revolt that began in 1978—we have refused to do our share to keep it going. Essentially, the bootstrap crowd is living off the civic-minded willingness to sacrifice of those who came before.