We Are Falling Apart

Infrastructure. Not a very sexy topic. In fact, a topic that gets ignored, except when that infrastructure breaks.

What do I mean by infrastructure? The best examples are roads, bridges, hydro systems, phone systems, and the most insidious – water and sewer systems.

What is so special about water and sewer? They are out of sight, and most of the time out-of-thought as well. In fact, the only time most of us think about water and sewer systems is when they break and we have to go without.

I first started ringing a warning bell on infrastructure at least 2 decades ago. Most major cities in Canada have water systems that are 50 or more years old. Pipes are not forever, and they break. Those breaks result in lack of service first of all, and then often cause road problems as well, since most of the pipes are under roads.

Why is it a problem? Why don’t we keep them under better repair?

An article in The Globe and Mail brings out 2 issues that hit home for me.

The one that makes me smile (almost laugh) is that water and sewer pipes do not provide good photo ops. Let’s face it, every politician out there wants photo ops. They help with re-election.

However, according to James Fallows, the real problem is “Demosclerosis”. Don’t ask me how to pronounce that. Today is the first time I have seen that word. The short version of what it is – the progressive loss of a democratic government’s ability to adapt. What leads to this disease in the first place? According to the quote in the Globe’s article mentioned above, “Demosclerosis develops in a country as more and more special interest groups build up, like plaque, over time. Each one takes its little bite out of the national wealth, and the result is a system that’s great at distributing benefits but terrible at solving problems.”

Now that should make me laugh, but the truth and seriousness of it, like political correctness, has got a stranglehold on my funny bone. I think that a lack of single mindedness in society where it really matters is more a crying matter, than a laughing one.

What do you think? Should we have a 100% moratorium on special interests and devote all our energy to what really counts as we start a new decade? Is it even possible to agree on what really matters?

Leave a comment. Thank you for reading.

One Comment

  1. Rosana Hart says:

    As an American who’s been living in Mexico for several years, I’ve had ample opportunity to see what happens when infrastructure isn’t a priority. Just for one example, in the town where I live, I’ve been told that the sewer pipes leak a bit here and there — and in some places they were laid above the water pipes!

    I don’t think it’s possible to agree on what matters. Cynical, not really. But I do think it’s very important to work towards what matters to us.

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