As Far Behind in Infrastructure as Ahead in Military Power

July 24, 2017

The United States government's responsibilities for defense and for building new economic infrastructure are equally explicitly stated in the Constitution. The American people formed a government to "provide for the common defense"; also to "promote the general welfare" and "to establish post offices and post roads"; and the first Congress in 1789 affirmed the responsibility for ports, by the Lighthouse Act.

Yet the Federal government is planning to fund production of a single class of Navy ships and a single new fighter-bomber fleet with $400 billion — or more — over the next decade, as much as it is currently investing in building, operating and repairing all forms of economic infrastructure.

These are the Ford class aircraft carrier — the first, $13 billion ship, out of 12 planned, having been commissioned by President Donald Trump July 22 — and the F-35 aircraft. Russia's and China's navies each operate one aircraft carrier.

Both systems are intended to replace older ones — Nimitz class carriers and F16 fighter-bombers — which are considered to be ending their planned lifetimes; 50 years in the case of the Nimitz carriers, for example. Most of the most important American transportation, navigation, water and water management, power, and even space exploration infrastructure is from 40 years to a century or more old, some of it crumbling and failing disastrously, with no action taken to replace it with new infrastructure platforms and modern technology.

Both new military systems employ not only very large funding, but also largely untested new technologies; neither the Ford class carrier nor the F-35 are as proven in operation as are magnetic levitation rail lines. Public funding equal to the funding for these two systems could build a 25,000 mile new high-speed rail network including maglev routes.

There is no public concern, and rightly so, about this public debt "destroying the credit of the United States" (nor about the two nuclear reactors which power the USS Gerald R. Ford). But in fact, the crumbling of the Wall Street-dominated U.S. economy and its infrastructure is making it take longer and longer, and more and more funds, to build such ships and planes. The looming second disastrous financial crash in a decade, if it isn't stopped by anti-Wall Street policies, will cripple such production entirely.

The United States is as far behind in its economic infrastructure, as it is seeking to get ahead militarily. With Wall Street running U.S. economic policy, this can't work.