Council on Foreign Relations on America’s “Road to Nowhere” (infographic)
In their infinite wisdom, the Council on Foreign Relations, through the Renewing America initiative, published today its first Renewing America Progress Report. The CFRs’ intention is to highlight the demise of the United States’ infrastructure, whilst spinning it as a narrative on “the challenges the United States faces in rebuilding the foundations of its economic strength, and some of the initiatives that show the greatest promise.” As can be teased from an analysis of Washington’s domestic infrastructure, energy and economic policies, rebuilding America does not seem to be a concern of policy makers. After all, the U.S. economy has lost approximately 50,000 jobs since the kickoff of the so-called “century of change” in 2001.
The first installment is soberly entitled “Road to Nowhere.” The article preaches the importance of transportation infrastructure to an economy. It allows people to rush to-and-fro, splitting hairs just to keep up with taxes, fines and cost of living expenses.
According to the CFR, the American people – not the corporations and government that shepherd them – have lost track of this:
Americans understood this once upon a time, building the most impressive network of roads and airports in the world, as well as a solid freight rail system. But for far too long we have been living on that inheritance. Two data points from the Scorecard stand out:
- Since 1980, the number of highway miles traveled by American drivers has doubled, but the miles of road on which they’re driving have increased just 5 percent. It’s no mystery, as the report notes, why traffic congestion takes more than $700 out of the pocket of the average commuter each year.
- Two-thirds of Americans say that fully funding transportation infrastructure is either “extremely important” or “very important” to them. Yet solid majorities are opposed to any of the usual ways of funding new roads, including higher gas taxes or new tolls.
According to the CFRs’ analysis, “Americans want uncluttered highways, efficient airports, and seamless mass transit systems, but they are either reluctant to pay for these things or doubt the ability of governments to deliver.” First, let’s blame Americans uber-frugality, and not the fact that they’ve had their savings and future income potential confiscated via a “bailout culture.” Second, they have every reason to “doubt the ability of government to deliver,” considering that government historically has abetted wealth confiscation typically beneficial to top-of-the-pyramid transnational corporations. The CFR blames instead “overdue backlash against pork barrel politics for favored projects.” Now, in a world where the trail of cash flows out of nation-state treasuries and into transnational coffers, we are talking anything but pork barrel politics, which, according to Wikipedia, “is the appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.”
The CFR posits that the United States is missing a “golden opportunity,” suggesting that turmoil in Europe and lack of developed capital markets in the rest of the world has led to a flight to U.S. treasuries. The CFR states the U.S. should use these extra funds for infrastructure projects, completely ignoring that these funds are needed to service debt and maintain basic government operations without imposing austerity. Here’s their infographic: