I’m flying back to the USA today, and as an infrastructure aficionado, it’s nice to be going home, but I’m dreading the disappointment. I just spent two weeks in Singapore and Thailand; last year I spent time in Hong Kong and Shenzhen; and compared to modern Asia, so much American infrastructure is now so contemptible that it’s hard not to wince when I see it.
So imagine what it’s like coming to America from wealthy Asian nations, and their gleaming, polished, metronomically reliable subways, trains, and airports. I don’t think Americans understand just how that comparison has become a quiet ongoing national humiliation. If they did, sheer national (and civic) pride would make them want to do something about it. Instead there’s a learned helplessness about most American infrastructure nowadays, a wrong but certain belief that it’s unrealistic to dream of anything better.
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
I didn’t have to travel outside the U.S. to even see this. YouTube videos from around the world have shown me what an absolute disgrace our mass transit is compared to other nations.
The reasons for this are complex and a landmine (especially in these Snowflake Days). Infrastructure reflects the character of a people. In short, we can’t have better things until we are a better people.