Innovative Financing For Infrastructure

Richard Luettgen rightly observes labor costs have changed since America installed many of its major infra-structure projects, from the Grand Coulee and Hoover Dams to street mains for water and sewer–Charleston is still using brickwork tunnels for drainage built in the colonial era by skilled workers who were enslaved. It’s hard to imagine a more urgent national priority than modernizing America’s transportation and water systems and our energy-wasting electrical grid. But to wait on robots? The costs of development and procurement would only climb–labor per unit might be lower, but profits per project would soar (bridges are an excellent comparative model; the Left Coast Lifter, the infamous crane that worked recently on the new Tappan Zee bridge costs $50 million to construct; the bridge, originally built for $81 million in 1951 cost $5.2 billion to replace!)

How to fix Flint–and 240K of broken water mains a year? Innovative ways of financing massive public work projects are easily put in place to secure the future! At today’s rates, a national infrastructure bank could offer tax-free funding for retirement accounts, banks, and nations wanting to park currency in dollars. (China, for one, finances its international infra-structure projects through loan agreements; Brasil (5th among world economies) carries its own funding.)

Investors know such debt has 2 benefits: it’s long term savings and an investment (80 cents/$1) that pays macro-economic and social returns!

Fixing Our Broken Water Systems – The New York Times


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