Out with old, in with the new – will Obama build bridges?

The USA faces problems that look very familiar to us in the UK. While China is busy building new infrastructure with high speed rail links the older economies have structures which are crumbling and are in dire need of replacement. So what to do?
Obama is putting money up front to deal with regional “to do” lists creating work at a time of looming recession and joblessness. This creates a tension between spending for spending states on highways to nowhere against a visionary updating of transport which will enhance the economy.
Gordon Brown made similar noises about bringing projects forward in the spend and spend programme that is supposed to get the economy on the move again at the same time increasing the national debt. Fine if it works, but as some like the Germans doubt, what if it doesn’t. The hole will be a lot deeper while we’re still digging. Meanwhile Gordon sent our man to tell a critical German commentator to shut up. “We don’t do failing” as Alastair Campbell might have put it.
It seems to me that it might help if while we replace the old we also had a vision of building in the future at the same time. There are those in the US hankering after high speed rail links between cities and rapid transport systems in them. (Good grief a public transport system, but you see somebody had visited China and had seen what had been created there!).
So what about the UK? Manchester’s future has been put back because the public didn’t like the idea of road charging to pay for it. The West Midlands looks as if its had its share with an unpopular and costly toll road. Once again a privatisation too far which benefits a business rather than passing back cash to the economy in order to improve the transport system.
In U.S. there’s a debate between allowing regions to have the cash for them to decide priorities and the continuing central decision making process. Whichever it will depend on vision so if it’s not apparent centrally a lot will be spent with little to show for it. If regions get the dough then those that have vision will progress. Those that don’t will stay congested for ever and ever. Sound familiar?

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