johnson137_JIM WATSONAFP via Getty Images_biden jobs plan JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Infrastructure for the Next American Century

Every era needs its own set of infrastructure investments, based on the available technology and oriented toward productivity growth and job creation. For this reason, US President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan is right to include a stepped-up commitment to funding science.

WASHINGTON, DC – Infrastructure is the name given to shared systems that underpin productivity and make it possible to create good jobs at high wages. In the early American republic, the Erie Canal linked the Hudson River and the Great Lakes, creating new possibilities for trade and migration. In the later nineteenth century, the country was transformed by railroads. Senator Henry Clay called federal government initiatives to procure such infrastructure “the American system.” After World War II, the construction of the interstate highway system continued this effort.

Every era needs its own set of infrastructure investments, based on the available technology and oriented toward productivity growth and job creation. For this reason, US President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan is right to include a stepped-up commitment to funding science.

Biden’s Republican opponents disagree. In their view, the United States need only renew some of its post-World War II physical infrastructure, with “roads and bridges” most frequently topping the list. Of course, the US does need to fix all its aging bridges and ensure that Americans can move around safely and at reasonable speed. The US population has more than doubled since 1950. There should be no argument that this dimension of infrastructure needs to keep pace.

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