Solving debt, deficits, unemployment, infrastructure and sustainability in one single bound

Solving debt, deficits, unemployment, infrastructure and sustainability in one single bound

I know. It sounds too good to be true. Tackling some of today’s most urgent needs with one idea? Yep.

Believe me, I wish I could take credit for it. But I can’t. I heard about it from Fareed Zakaria, a journalist with CNN and Time magazine.

Here’s the storyline: more than 24 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed right now. We’ve already handed out billions in stimulus funds, and there’s escalating concern among politicians and ordinary citizens alike about our national debt and skyrocketing deficits. But if fewer Americans are working, that’s fewer taxpayers – so perhaps one way to address the debt problem is to get more Americans on the job doing something important.

Like repairing and replacing our crumbling national infrastructure. Fixing leaky water pipes. Installing smart meters. Rebuilding roads, bridges, airports, schools. It’s a long list. And here’s the Really Big Idea – we do all this with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind.

We do it by copying the Europeans – we start a National Infrastructure Bank. We pull in the private sector to contribute. That means we’ll have to abandon the model we’ve used for too long – government ownership of infrastructure. But, um, maybe that model’s not working so well anymore.

The idea’s gotten some traction with both political parties, since it addresses joint areas of concern like job creation and debt reduction. Yes, there would be public money involved, too – but with historically low bond rates it’s a great time to borrow money for a real investment  in the things we take for granted every day, like running water and energy, that drive the American way of life.

With a National Infrastructure Bank, politics are removed from decisions. Economics would drive approvals. No more bridges to nowhere. No more patronage. No more pork-barrel projects. Just needs-based, return on investment, data-driven decisions.

And let’s be honest: our infrastructure is already costing us in terms of global competitiveness. The World Economic Forum ranks the US 23rd and falling. We simply won’t be able to keep up if we don’t keep up our infrastructure.

I know. It’s not sexy. But it’s a great idea. It’ll spark demand for green products, create green jobs, encourage new energy efficient and sustainable behaviors, potentially lower green pricing premiums (thanks to increased demand), drive new innovations, and heck, it just might help us out of this miserable economy with something to show for the pain.

Is this a sustainable marketing idea? Not right now. Right now, it’s something to talk with your government relations folks about and get behind. Because ultimately, it can help expand and create new markets for your goods and services. And ultimately, it can help our country emerge stronger and more sustainable from our three years of hell.

About the Author

Karen Barnes

Karen is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.