We are the 99ers We Aren't Going Away

In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower embarked on the most aggressive public works project in U.S. history — the jobs-producing interstate highway system. And throughout the 1930s and ’40s, the government designed an elaborate set of public financing vehicles to build the great postwar suburban housing stock.America used to be a country that built things — using public and private resources. Great works of infrastructure provided jobs and returned an incredible social investment. It is inconceivable to imagine the modern economy without the vast investments in infrastructure made by preceding generations — everything from rural electrification to developing the Internet.So why aren’t we building more of it? One way to think about the question is: Why did we build infrastructure in the first place?The answer is complicated. We need to look to the political coalitions behind our immense public works and ask which coalitions today support the current infrastructure rhetoric. Seen through that lens, the real trend in infrastructure today is not building more of it but privatizing what exists.