You know that our national infrastructure isn't in great shape. Maybe you walked to work because the subway got rained out . Maybe you've flown out of O'Hare.  Maybe your car fell into a sinkhole . But it's much worse than you think. An excellent post  by Danny Wilkins at Scholars and Rogues catalogs the damage. I don't want to spoil all the surprises, but here's an preview.
In Northern California, “more than 1,100 miles of aging levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and its watersheds … contain the fuel that powers the world’s 6th largest economy – water,” according to the state agency that administers the system. “It has been estimated that the loss to California’s economy could be $30 to $40 billion in the event of massive levee failures caused by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in the Delta region
And so with the dams, with the plumbing, the bridges, the water system. All bad, but it's worse than you think. Despite the looming crisis, Washington isn't doing diddly. As as (another) excellent Wilkins post  reveals, the only pending infrastructure legislation is inadequate. And the proposals of the presidential candidates?
Their positions are vague, and financial proposals offer a scant percentage of what’s needed.
Here's Wilkins' on Obama's proposal
Take, for example, Sen. Obama’s issues statement under “Keeping Our Drinking Water Safe“: He seeks “$37.5 million over 5 years for drinking water systems to upgrade their monitoring and security efforts [emphasis added].” But the long-term physical viability of those facilities is never mentioned. To Sen. Obama’s credit, he says he will “pursue a major investment in our utility grid to enable a tremendous increase in renewable generation and accommodate modern energy requirements, such as reliability, smart metering, and distributed storage [emphasis added].” But that investment is unspecified, as most campaign promises of presidential candidates usually are. It is merely a “talking point.” Sen. Obama does have an issues plank for “transportation.” He seeks “a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank” to be funded by $60 billion over 10 years to supplant current federal spending. Frankly, that’s a pittance, and the senator’s accompanying fact sheet does not explain how it will be funded.
And on Clinton:
On Aug. 8, just seven days following the I-35W bridge collapse, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled her “Rebuild America Plan” in a speech in Rochester, Minn. The plan would:
• establish a $10 billion “emergency repair fund” to address the backlog of critical infrastructure repairs. (That’s spread over 10 years, or only $1 billion a year.)
• provide $250 million in “emergency assessment grants” to the states to conduct immediate safety reviews of their high-priority, high-risk infrastructure assets. (That’s insufficient to deal with 50 states’ needs.)
• appoint a commission to carry out a comprehensive assessment of our engineering review standards so to better prioritize needed repairs on bridges and roads. (More study? Sure. Why not?)
It’s worth wondering if this plan existed prior to Aug. 1. It appears wholly inadequate to begin to address the nation’s infrastructure needs....
The only references to infrastructure on the issues section of presidential candidate John McCain’s Web site are contained in his agenda on climate change: “A Comprehensive Plan Will Address The Full Range Of Issues: Infrastructure, Ecosystems, Resource Planning, And Emergency Preparation” and in his statement of stewardship of natural resources: “Ensuring clean air, safe and healthy water.”
Whether you are a Clintonite or an Obamista (hell, even an McCainiac), here's an issue to pursue. Forward Wilkins' post to your candidate. Write your own infrastructure policy. Talk to your family and friends about bridges and dams. Buy a black marker and white T-Shirt, write 'SAVE OUR AQUEDUCTS" on the shirt and walk around the block. Raise some infrastructural consciousness.