The Infrastructure Expectation

We went to dinner, and I forgot to reset the DVR to record the Prez this evening. So, what I’m writing here might be somewhat disjointed. Which is too bad because it really shouldn’t be.

I drive a four-door sedan. ‘Murcan made. She’s eleven years old. And she has 63,000 miles on her.

This is a bit of a joke around my family, how little I drive. Now this is not to say that I don’t use a hell of a lot of power in its other forms. I run a television in probably unhealthy amounts, a laptop compyooter, an iPhone, and an entire household, not to mention the electricity I use in my office. But. 63K in 11 years. That’s pretty impressive, and I imagine it shrinks my carbon footprint somewhat.

But I’m only allowed to do that for one reason: I live in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, which, in the past, has thought it vital to fund and build things like subway systems and a system of commuter buses. You can’t do that in many other regions of the United States. In fact, it is entirely possible to live in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and—get this—not even own an automobile.

This is especially true, I should add, with the establishment of the Zipcar. This is an amazing little service whereby you can reserve an automobile using the Internet, and then, that afternoon, you can hike over and get in your car and drive off. This service, along with the more traditional methods of public transportation, make it the 63,000 mile 11-year-old car possible. Without that infrastructure, that odo would have turned over long ago.

But there is another aspect that must be present for such a success. There must be somewhat of a culture that expects to be able to use said infrastructure, a culture that believes in and trusts the infrastructure. There must be some of that population that grows up using the infrastructure, that learns the ins and outs of their hometowns just by getting around. You’ve got to have the infrastructure, but you’ve also got to have the infrastructure expectation.

As we discuss possible solutions to whatever you think the “energy crisis” is, I think we tend to go around in circles and to speak in terms of fragments. We have special-interest TV commercials, and this one’s touting ethanol, and that one seems to be touting solar and other alternatives. We talk about geothermal, conservation, nuclear, offshore drilling, coal, and so on. This method or that method versus that.

I hate to keep bringing this up, but we recently had a bridge fall out of the sky. In America. And yet, this President had to compromise his way out of infrastructure stimulus dollars. People hurl around “tax-and-spend” as if the word “bastard” is to immediately follow. The notion that, as a nation, we require a basic infrastructure that government has a larger interest in creating and maintaining than do for-profit fuck-pigs, that notion is now, incredibly, ridiculed and even dismissed as “socialist.”

The whole enchilada regarding “energy alternatives” rests on infrastructure and the expectation of infrastructure. Without the trains and the buses, and without a general public that intends to rely on those transportation regularly, all you’ve got is a bunch of people in their own cars. And that leads, too, to its own discussion of infrastructure.

Have I written the word “infrastructure” enough times?

It may not be a sexy sexy topic, but bricks and mortar, that’s the crux of the issue. This discussion should not just reflect what methods we will use to create power or where to put the damned spent nuclear waste or whatever. It should reflect the larger issue of the national infrastructure as well.

That’s what it’s all aboat.

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