Rebuilding America

Thursday, February 26, 2009

President Obama has pushed for more spending on bridges, roads and railways, but according to the American Society of Civil Engineers it would take $2.2 trillion over five years just to get the nation’s infrastructure into decent shape. In his new book Bold Endeavors, Felix Rohatyn (the investment banker who kept New York City from going Bankrupt in the 1970’s) argues that lots of federal sending is needed to keep the nation from falling apart- literally. He also offers ten examples from our past that he says worked, like the construction of the Erie Canal and the building of the transcontinental railroad.


Felix Rohatyn

Comments [8]

Joel Hubbard from long island

F.Y.I.. September 4, 2001. “Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure.” written by Anne Elizabeth Powell. Civil Engineering Magazine, American Society of Civil Engineers.
Sadly as John Lennon sang twenty years before 2001 “Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans” Now in the Shovel Ready world of 2009 we all have Chinaman’s chance to rebuild the American dream, Chinese- Americans through cruel alienation could not even vote until 1946. After building much of our industrial juggernaut’s ability to win and make the rules of the post WWII military industrial complex which we, the people, were warned by our last great warrior, commander and chief to keep separate from our democracy. Ike also did the R&D for transcontinental highway system, hurry up and see the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet before it’s all gone. In this presupposed post racial America of 2009 perhaps what we need is true transparency and a deep introspective look into our cultural mirror, before our ancestors who brought about this great experiment with their blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice are forgotten in dust of history by the people who gave us the M.A.D. doctrine, Madoff. Madness and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Greed for lack of a better word is not good for democracy and is detrimental to the four freedoms of the American dream of F.D.R. or his orphaned Dorian Gary future.

Feb. 26 2009 05:34 PM
ted from manhattan

Yes there was a GI Bill for Vietnam vets. I used it. It was not as comprehensive as the one for WWII vets, though.


Feb. 26 2009 12:56 PM
RJ from brooklyn

There is a GI bill for Iraq veterans: See:

Feb. 26 2009 12:55 PM
CG from Manhattan

Mr. Rohatyn mentioned that many Chinese laborers died during the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Does he have an opinion about how the project would have been different if its leaders had true concern for their workers? How would such a concern influence some of the projects being considered by the current administration? Can we truly protect workers and provide them with proper benefits?

Feb. 26 2009 12:39 PM
Hugh from Brookyn

Mr. Rohatyn reminds me of something John Kenneth Galbraith said when the "reconstruction" in Iraq proved to be anything but.

Galbraith had been part of the economic team addressing issues in Europe and Japan after WW2. He commented that then, he and others approached things without the base corruption of ideology and dogma. There was a problem and they were open to different ways of solving it.

Mr. Rohatyn sounds like he approached New York in the 70s in much the same way.

I see little if any evidence of Larry Summers or Timothy Geithner doing likewise now. They have resolved in advance and based on dogma only that nationalization is out of the question. Soon they will do the same on healthcare.

Feb. 26 2009 12:20 PM
Eric from NYC

Very interesting proposal.
How would you judge if any particular project makes sense?

Is there any cost benefit analysis done?

Feb. 26 2009 12:18 PM
Andy Andres from Long Branch, New jersey

Your guest, Felix Roethan, doesn't know the meaning of a word "blitzkreig". I doubt that Londoners feared the blitxkreig, they feared and survived the "Blitz".

Feb. 26 2009 12:14 PM
Hugh from Brookyn

In the 1930s the US was on its way to becoming the world's most powerful nation. In the 1970s, the US was vastly more powerful -- economically and militarily -- than even the Soviet Union (yes, we could blow each other up, but we dwarfed the USSR in every other way).

Now, the US is on its way down the mountain. China and India are rising. And the global environment is suffering far more than is widely understood.

So the US is certainly exiting its golden age, just as Britain did from the 30s through the 50s.

Our leaders, sadly including Obama, show no willingness to confront the facts. That Obama could so completely exclude labor while including the very crooks who created this crisis demonstrates how woefully unprepared this nation is to manage its decline.

Feb. 26 2009 12:14 PM

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