Monday, November 23, 2009

How About a Newer Deal?

Over the year, jobless rates increased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The national unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in October, up 0.4 percentage point from September and 3.6 points from October 2008.
As cities have grown rapidly across the nation, many have neglected infrastructure projects and paved over green spaces that once absorbed rainwater. That has contributed to sewage backups into more than 400,000 basements and spills into thousands of streets, according to data collected by state and federal officials. Sometimes, waste has overflowed just upstream from drinking water intake points or near public beaches.

There is no national record-keeping of how many illnesses are caused by sewage spills. But academic research suggests that as many as 20 million people each year become ill from drinking water containing bacteria and other pathogens that are often spread by untreated waste.
America is hungry and getting hungrier, with 49 million people - 17 million of them children - last year unable to consistently get enough food to eat, according to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

These figures represent 14.6 percent of all households, a 3.5-percentage-point jump over 2007, and they are the largest recorded since the agency began measuring hunger in 1995.

Of those 49 million, 12 million adults and 5.2 million children reported experiencing the country's most severe hunger, possibly going days without eating. Among the children, nearly half a million in the developmentally critical years under age 6 were going hungry...

To help battle hunger, Obama said yesterday, "the first task is to restore job growth, which will help relieve the economic pressures that make it difficult for parents to put a square meal on the table each day."
Hazardous Waste: Hundreds of thousands of contaminated sites exist across the country, representing millions of dollars of untapped economic potential. Redevelopment of brownfield sites over the past five years generated an estimated 191,338 new jobs and $408 million annually in extra revenues for localities. In 2008, however, there were 188 U.S. cities with brownfield sites awaiting cleanup and redevelopment.

Bridges: More than 26%—more than one in four—of the nation’s bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. While some progress has been made in recent years to reduce the number of deficient and obsolete bridges in rural areas, the number in urban areas is rising. A $17 billion annual investment is needed to substantially improve current bridge conditions.

Roads: Congestion on the nation’s roads is increasing and the cost to improve is ever rising, causing the roads grade to decrease to a D- in 2009 (Report Card for America’s Infrastructure). Americans spend 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic at a cost to the economy of $78.2 billion, or $710 per motorist. Poor conditions cost motorists $67 billion a year in repairs and operating costs.

Public Parks and Recreation: Parks, beaches, and other recreational facilities contribute $730 billion per year to the U.S. economy, support nearly 6.5 million jobs, and contribute to cleaner air and water and higher property values. Despite record spending on parks at the state and local level, the acreage of parkland per resident in urban areas is declining. While significant investments are being made in the National Park Service for its 2016 centennial, the agency’s facilities still face a $7-billion maintenance backlog.

Schools: No comprehensive, authoritative nationwide data on the condition of America’s school buildings have been collected in a decade. The National Education Association’s best estimate to bring the nation’s schools into good repair is $322 billion.

Energy: Progress has been made in grid reinforcement since 2005, and substantial investment in generation, transmission, and distribution is expected over the next two decades. Demand for electricity has grown by 25% since 1990. Public and government opposition and difficulty in the
permitting processes are restricting much needed modernization. Projected electric utility investment needs could be as much as $1.5 trillion by 2030.
Here's a blueprint, Mr. President. Try it. God knows no one's proposing anything better.

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