I swear if I hear "roads and bridges" one more time in a news story about infrastructure spending, I'm gonna hurt somebody. And I'm not the only one.
Yes, it's a good idea to reduce unemployment by providing public sector jobs. And as these not-unemployed people earn paychecks and spend them, they pay taxes and create (or maintain) jobs for others. I'd even say that there are essential roads and bridges that are in danger of falling apart and killing people, so we should put some of these people to work fixing or rebuilding them.
However, what we should not spend money on is anything that increases highway or parking capacity. Obama says that his plan would be the biggest infrastructure spending plan since the Interstate Highway System; well, the Interstate Highway system is a big part of what got us into this mess.
If we hadn't spent so much on highways, it wouldn't have been so cheap for people to live fifty or a hundred miles from their jobs with no rapid transit to get them there. If we hadn't spent so much on roads and bridges, we wouldn't have neighborhoods where hundreds of people can't walk to get a quart of milk. If we hadn't spent so much on roads and bridges, we might have had more for trains and buses. Housing wouldn't have gotten overvalued to the point where $4/gallon gas popped the bubble.
The time to turn this battleship is now. Obama should not continue the mistakes of the past. We've built enough roads and bridges, thank you. For at least the next ten years, all new infrastructure should be for railroads, bus depots, busways, cycle tracks and sidewalks, and the Big Three need to start making trains and buses.
The next time you read or hear "roads and bridges," try to leave a comment asking to replace those words with "trains and buses." There's a ton of people out there who are sick of sprawl, and there's a lot of work to be done to give them affordable alternatives to it.