It’s been over three months since the end of election season, and I’ve been scrambling for any source of political inspiration for my columns.
It’s tough knowing that the next big race is almost two years away, and while the fiscal cliff fallout has certainly held my interest, anyone who’s following it will understand why the half-baked adventures of our nation’s legislative branch have been less than inspiring.
Miraculously, inspiration came from an unlikely source this weekend when the power went out at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII. While the screaming Baltimore fans around me were asking how the outage would affect the Ravens’ momentum, I sat there flabbergasted by the fact that in 21st century America, we have allowed our infrastructure to decay to the point that we can lose power during the most important sporting event of the year.
Granted, at time of writing, officials still aren’t sure whether the problem was caused by equipment in the stadium or outside on the grid, but regardless, this was hardly an isolated incident – it certainly wasn’t the first game to experience a blackout, as any 49ers fan can tell you. And unexplained power outages, in general, are a phenomenon that communities across the country experience every day.
Why is it that the most powerful nation on the planet has allowed its electrical infrastructure to deteriorate to the point that it interrupts one of its most significant commercial and cultural events of the year?
Our government has failed us by not ensuring the continued advancement of our grid, but the problem goes further than that.
In general, we have been forced to watch as our country suffers from everything from a decaying sewer grid to a crumbling highway system. We spend billions of dollars fixing broken, archaic resources when really we should be inventing new ones.
A prime example of this strategy is in Internet infrastructure.
While the US still debates net neutrality and lags behind in 12th place in the world for Internet speed, at 6.7 average Mbps in the first quarter of 2012, South Korean investment in Internet technology has allowed them to achieve average speeds of 15.7 Mbps during the same time frame.
Essentially, this means that while we argue over ways to make do with the bandwidth that we have now, the rest of the world is just opening more bandwidth, rendering it a non-issue.
It seems that our federal government has made a habit of offering piecemeal solutions to our infrastructure problems rather than trying to find innovative ways of making our problems irrelevant, assuming it doesn’t outright ignore the most glaring dangers of the system.
In every area, from road improvements to storm repairs, we just Band-Aid our problems away.
Honestly, our government has failed us by not investing in the infrastructure that they helped to put into place to begin with.
I’m not sure we need to break the budget on this, and I’m not entirely sure that taxpayers should foot the whole bill. But when public resources like roads and bridges are put in place, we have a right to expect that they are maintained.
With a budget deal expected at the end of the month – yes, we have a right to expect these kinds of things from our legislators – now is a great time to contact your representatives and urge them to keep our infrastructure in mind when they vote.
If the idea of overflowing sewers and collapsing bridges doesn’t motivate you, then just consider a future with more Super Bowl interruptions.