What’s It Say About a Society that Can’t Fill Its Potholes

You can tell a lot about a society from its roads. And its potholes in particular.

I saw a headline today that it would cost 556 million pounds to fill Great Britain’s potholes. Locally, a $732 million estimate has been floated to bring Indianapolis’s streets up to “fair” status. It’s hard to believe any place can compete with Indy when it comes to potholes. I’ve never lived anywhere with streets as bad as Indy’s. And that’s saying a lot considering we lived in Pittsburgh.

For my entire adult life, I’ve driven a stretch of so-called interstate highway from Washington, Penna. to New Stanton, Penna.(I-70) that is narrow, poorly maintained, and obsolete by modern safety standards. Yet PennDot apparently has gotten comfortable with the situation, for reasons I’ll never understand. I guess the residents of Pennsylvania have gotten comfortable with it, too.

Meanwhile, we’ve spent trillions to buy weapons we don’t need, wage wars we didn’t have to wage, and build roads and bridges in countries where our presence was unwanted. Go figure.

Now we’re promising to invest heavily in North Korea if its ruthless dictator (whom our president used to all a “madman” and “murderer” but now calls “very honorable”) abandons his nuclear ambitions and arsenal. (It will be interesting to see if Kim and his colleagues are that stupid.) Perhaps Flint, Michigan and Camden, New Jersey need to start a nuclear program in order to garner Washington’s attention.

If Indiana is indicative of the national populace, then the only thing that matters to most people is spending on our military and cutting taxes, leaving the rest of us (those who care about good schools, infrastructure, parks, libraries, safety, and other community amenities) to escape to our enclaves such as Carmel, Indiana; Fort Collins, Colorado; and the Main Line outside of Philadelphia.

It’s not a perfect solution, and it’s not one I prefer. But it is what it is — unless and until we decide to change our national priorities.


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