Here’s a link to the National Public Radio story I heard on the radio yesterday morning, when driving from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. It’s a very troubling story on the deteriorating condition of our nation’s dams, and more generally, our nation’s overall infrastructure.
“…the number of dams considered unsafe has jumped 33 percent in the past decade, according to a report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers.”
As an economist, what really disturbed me was hearing that it’s often not clear who actually owns the dams (who holds the property rights) and is responsible for them. (That’s how OLD some of these dams are…) As a driver, what really disturbed me is that I was crossing a few bridges (and maybe passing a few dams?) along the way.
Then this morning I wake up to an AP story on the front page of my parents’ local newspaper, the Akron Beacon Journal, that highlighted the now $4+/gallon gas and how some state governments are actually thinking about following the suggestions of some presidential candidates to suspend, or reduce, their gasoline taxes. Hmmm… given what a recessionary economy does naturally (without legislative action) to state and local tax bases and public assistance spending, and given the clear need to do better at maintaining our state and local infrastructure, is this really the time to talk about forceably reducing gasoline taxes that would otherwise naturally rise with prices, and otherwise do more than almost anything else we’d consider doing to encourage fuel conservation?