The real Bridge to Nowhere -- today's open thread

The NYT's Bob Herbert does Philly:

Gov. Ed Rendell likes to tell a story that goes back to his days as mayor of Philadelphia.

As he recalled, the city had a long cold snap with about a month and a half of below-freezing temperatures. Then, abruptly, the mercury rose into the 60s, he said, “and 58 of our water mains broke, causing all sorts of havoc.”

The pipes were old. Some were ancient. “My water people told me that some had been laid in the 19th century,” said Mr. Rendell, “and they were laid shallow, without much protection. So with any radical changes in temperature, they were susceptible to breaking. We had a real emergency on our hands.”

Infrastructure, that least sexy of issues, is not just a significant interest of Ed Rendell’s; it’s more like a consuming passion.

Ed Rendell's "consuming passion" is for....bridges? Who knew? Seriously, the column is a hammer on the nail of the head of the problems we face in this country, and the solutions should be that simple. Our infrastructure needs fixing, and the repair work creates jobs in the short run and leads to a more efficient economy in the long run. It's a no-brainer, except that all debt-and-spending is now politically toxic, thanks to all the non-productive waste -- Iraq, tax cuts for the rich, and a general lack of fiscal discipline -- of the George W. Bush years. We complain, with some justification, about all the money we owe to the Chinese, but we really should worry more about how the Chinese are cleaning our clock by investing in things like high-speed rail. Our inaction is likely increasing our debt, by the way, because of the high cost to the federal treasury of chronic unemployment; if you are not working, you are not paying taxes.

This shouldn't be hard, people. And yet it is.

Discuss whatever's on your mind.