The other day national treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson brought us this gem: Is America Entering a Dark Age? Excerpt:
Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?
Californians tried to build a high-speed rail line. But after more than a decade of government incompetence, lawsuits, cost overruns and constant bureaucratic squabbling, they have all but given up. The result is a half-built overpass over the skyline of Fresno — and not yet a foot of track laid.
Who were those giants of the 1960s responsible for building our interstate highway system?
California’s roads now are mostly the same as we inherited them, although the state population has tripled. We have added little to our freeway network, either because we forgot how to build good roads or would prefer to spend the money on redistributive entitlements.
When California had to replace a quarter section of the earthquake-damaged San Francisco Bay Bridge, it turned into a near-disaster, with 11 years of acrimony, fighting, cost overruns — and a commentary on our decline into Dark Ages primitivism. Yet 82 years ago, our ancestors built four times the length of our singe replacement span in less than four years. It took them just two years to design the entire Bay Bridge and award the contracts.
Our generation required five years just to plan to replace a single section. In inflation-adjusted dollars, we spent six times the money on one quarter of the length of the bridge and required 13 agencies to grant approval. In 1936, just one agency oversaw the entire bridge project.
Dr. Hanson writes about his own California, but the rot has taken hold almost everywhere. National power grids and generation capacity are below par. In our own Colorado, the roads are in worse shape every year. In New York the Empire State Building was put up in the middle of the Great Depression in a matter of months, but replacing the destroyed World Trade Center took over a decade.
It’s not a pretty picture. We used to a nation, a society, a people that built things. In a span of two hundred years we went from a couple of million people huddled along the east coast, having just broken away from the most powerful empire in (then) world history at great cost, to a great shining city on a hill, the arsenal of democracy in World War 2, the rebuilder of the global economy after that war.
My Dad (born 1923) always said that he an my Mom (born 1928) saw America’s best years. He was likely right. I’m just hoping I won’t live to see America come apart.