I was going to show some other evidence of human insanity, which I will get to.
But, when I noted just how much has been spent, and how many people are dead, dead, dead as a result of this craziness, I thought I'd put it at the top of the list.
And, all this note at the cost of a great national sacrifice. The infrastructure of the USA, once arguably the finest in the world, degenerates at such a rate that the US, despites its great wealth and resourcefullness, may not be able to afford its repair and replacement.
At least, that seems to be the view of a writer in the Economist.
When you read this (if anyone does) just think of the two to four trillion poured down the sewer in vain useless wars for the vain-glory of three men.
End of the road
Nov 4th 2013, 18:42 by N.V. | LOS ANGELES
FOR a country as wealthy as America, the dilapidated state of its infrastructure sure is a sorry sight. Three weeks of motoring around Spain—an economic basket-case by comparison, with over twice the unemployment and less than two-thirds the per-capita income of the United States—has been an eye-opener for Babbage. Wide, well-engineered roads criss-cross the country, with clover-leaf accesses everywhere, and modern concrete bridges spanning ravines and gullies. Babbage returned to the crumbling freeways and surface streets of California more despondent than ever.
Once the envy of the world, America’s 47,000 miles (75,000km) of interstate highways and 115,000 miles of freeways and other dual-carriageways were built in a furious burst of road construction during the 1950s and 1960s. Half a century of heavy use later, and with little maintenance in between, America’s arteries have become clogged and cracked. “We’ve got about $2 trillion of deferred maintenance,” President Obama warned recently. The figure comes from a detailed study by the American Society of Civil Engineers. So far, however, the president's plea to a divided Congress for $50 billion to begin fixing the country’s ageing infrastructure has fallen on determinedly deaf ears.
Potholed roads take their toll on people’s vehicles, increasing maintenance costs, making motoring more hazardous than it need be, and causing untold delays. The more time people spend sitting in traffic, the more they spend on fuel, and the more pollution they produce in the process. Such things impose costs both on individuals and on society at large.
Faulty bridges impose even greater costs. When the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River in 2007, the catastrophe took 13 lives, injured 145 others and cost taxpayers $234m—not counting the months of delays and diversions. Failures among the country’s 600,000 or so bridges are increasing alarmingly. Two thirds have exceeded their normal life expectancy.
Not counting the 84,000 bridges connecting main arteries that are classified as “functionally obsolete” (meaning they can remain open, provided suitable weight and speed restrictions are enforced), there are a further 66,500 major bridges with known structural defects. Just fixing the backlog of these defective structures was estimated in 2004 to cost taxpayers $32 billion (see “A member too few”, June 3rd 2013). Today, the bill is considerably higher.
Unfortunately, the Highway Trust Fund, set up in 1956 to pay for building and maintaining the country's infrastructure, is on the verge of bankruptcy. When the money runs out next September, the federal government will be unable to reimburse states for much of the road construction and maintenance work already underway.