In general, if you ask people if they would prefer to pay less, or more, for a given product, the answer is likely to be “less”. Democracy is, at root, the process of asking such a question.
This, Manny Teodoro argues, is at the heart of the U.S. infrastructure problem:
The trouble is that, in too many cases, local democratic governance is a big part of why America faces an infrastructure funding crisis. State and local politicians have been too often unwilling to raise the taxes and fees necessary to maintain infrastructure adequately—even with municipal bond rates at historic lows. National political dynamics make it unlikely that Congress will produce a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bailout. Long-term shifts in national politics might eventually change that picture, but the roads, dams, plants, pipes, and ports don’t care. They’ll continue to degrade without reinvestment.
I’ve written before about a related argument made by Teodoro, a political scientist at Texas A&M, regarding democratic governance and water conservation. More from him on infrastructure problems and new discussions of federal funding initiatives here.