Late night host of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver, took us on a tour of the Nation’s infrastructure on Monday night. The deplorable state of U.S. infrastructure has been the subject of a number of Ahlers & Cressman posts (It’s Time to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure – A Prospective Presidential Candidate Has an Idea!; Public-Private Partnerships: Completing Infrastructure Projects Without Public Funds; More Washington Infrastructure Projects On The Horizon – Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan; Hurricane Sandy A Wake Up Call To Strengthen U.S. Infrastructure – A Topic Lost In The Recent Presidential Campaign; Private Investors Testify that the US Infrastructure Bank is Key to Attracting Private Capitol for Public Works; New ASCE Report: Old U.S. Infrastructure is Costing the Public Billions; China’s Road-Building Pace Leaves U.S. In The Dust; Now That The Republicans Have Taken Over the House – What Does That Spell For Infrastructure Investment?; Infrastructure Investment Gets Boost From The Daily Show with John Stewart; Call For Boost to Infrastructure Investment; $4 Billion National Infrastructure Bank Proposed by President Obama; Water Main Break Highlights Need for Infrastructure Investment; Chelan Washington’s wooden pipes emphasize the need for radical infrastructure upgrades; Pew Research Gives Washington State An “A” For Infrastructure Government Performance). Oliver in 30 minutes gave viewers the comedic side of the sorry state of the U.S. infrastructure and convinces us that infrastructure is worth talking about. One of his memorable lines was: The average U.S. dam is 52 years old and has “something deeply broken inside” – “like Botox users and clog dancers.”
According to Oliver, people on both sides of the political aisle agree that rebuilding the infrastructure is critical, but maintaining our Nation’s roads, bridges, and dams is not politically exciting enough to gain traction in Congress. Oliver pointed to the Highway Trust Fund as an example. The Trust Fund will expire on May 31, 2015, unless Congress steps in to fund it. However, Congress has not passed a gas tax – which funds the Highway Trust Fund – in decades. Politicians have not been working to correct that underfunding; instead, preferring to work on issues that are more politically popular.
Fortunately, it looks like at least Washington State will pass a gas tax increase (convenient now that gas prices have dropped) that will go a long way to repair the ailing infrastructure in this State. The Bill still must obtain House of Representatives’ approval, but hopes are high that the need to repair the dams, roads, bridges, levies, water treatment plants, etc. will outweigh political expedience.
Oliver’s solution is a movie entitled “Infrastructure” with stars like Ed Norton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Steve Buscemi, Hope Davis, and many others bringing some needed sex appeal and Hollywood pizazz to this very important topic.