Preaching to the Choir By Kim Phelan
Article Date: 02-01-2009
Copyright(C) 2009 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
We'll all be blessed if the Power That Be can be persuaded to make the tough calls on adequate infrastructure funding - amen.
Unusual things seem to happen to me when I visit San Diego.
On my most recent trip in January (the purpose of which was AED’s 90th Annual Meeting & CONDEX show) I met with a curious coincidence that I am compelled to relate.
(Disclaimer – with the following metaphor I mean no disrespect of any kind.)
On Saturday the 17th, I listened as three Washington, D.C., experts painted the bittersweet picture of the future of America’s infrastructure, the fate of which lies in a straw basket (my metaphor, not theirs) – as I see it, this is a basket that will either (1.) dry up, (2.) burn up, or, as we in the equipment industry fervently hope, (3.) fill up and hold the proverbial fish and loaves that keep multiplying across the nation and feeding revival dollars into the construction industry. And regardless of whether you are among the devout followers of Obamessiah (not my term), I believe it is, to a large degree, our new president who holds this delicate basket in his hands.
As spiritual (or sacrilegious) as this all may sound, it is not the curious coincidence to which I referred.
The dire need for revamping the country’s roads and bridges, water and sewer underpinnings, airports and mass transit, not to mention salvation (sorry) of the construction industry’s employment roster, are all known well among distributor principals – and their customers. Nevertheless, Bill Buechner, senior economist at ARTBA, reminded us of numerous facts that make the case for unprecedented levels of federal investment quite plain.
All Logic Aside
But panelist Jack Schenendorf, who served as vice chair of the congressionally appointed National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission, also reminded us that, sadly, it is not necessarily due to logic and plain reason that policies are enacted into law in our nation’s Capitol – rather, it is the political drive of members of Congress whose primary ambition is re-election that ultimately garners votes for bills. (Are you making the back-home relevance clear to them?)
It was Schenendorf, too, who noted that while President Obama has verbally professed a commitment to infrastructure spending, details related to this subject are relegated to the very bottom of a list of seven “Additional Issues” on a secondary page of the Obama Agenda Web site, which does give me cause for pause.
These revelations, however, still do not bring me to the curious coincidence toward which I am steering.
With very little room remaining for expatiation, my coincidence occurred the morning after that intriguing panel discussion at the Convention Center, whilst I held the Sunday morning edition of the San Diego Union Tribune in my hands. I read a short opinion essay penned by the mayor of nearby Escondido, Calif.
Lori Holt Pfeiler wrote: “As the mayor of a medium-sized city, I know how important our infrastructure is to the quality of life enjoyed by residents. Cities all across America are struggling to cope with dwindling revenue. Most have had to put their infrastructure needs on hold in order to spend their limited dollars on priorities such as police and fire services. There just isn’t any extra money to upgrade aging water and sewer plants or build new roads, libraries and senior centers. President Barack Obama needs to help cities invest in our infrastructure. The investments should be made at the local and residential level.
“…Obama should act immediately and jump-start the building of local infrastructure. That would not only help ensure that we can justify…pride for decades to come but put people to work and help revive the economy.”
No wonder I’m so enamored with San Diego.
Thanks for reading.
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