Goal 13:

Create public works projects to improve water supplies and other livability conditions.

Obstacles

In the US and parts of Canada the coastal areas are getting over populated and the central areas of the continent are declining. This is causing economic distortions. Real estate prices are rising in coastal areas forcing the growth of sprawl as has been discussed in a prior goal. In addition, declining population elsewhere is creating economic hardship and raising the overall costs to society. Elsewhere in the world rural areas are being depopulated and replaced by slums in overcrowded cities. This imbalance can be addressed by making the conditions leading to this situation less attractive.

Objections can be expected from land owners and developers in growing regions as well as others with localized economic interests. Central planning goals do not have to mean centralized planning. Creating suitable conditions can lead to private actions along the desired lines. For the Southwest US, for example, water usage and public works projects can have a profound affect on subsequent development and population growth. The creation of Lake Powell is an example of how private development follows public works.

Implementation

The US has not had any national public works projects since the creation of the interstate highway system during the Eisenhower administration. This long period of under investment has led to severe regional dislocations as local regions try to cope with environmental and population changes. This is inefficient; some areas are over developed and become too costly and some suffer depopulation and economic collapse. The government needs to develop large region plans and solicit private collaboration in the design and implementation of such projects. As with other goals mentioned previously, encouraging companies which are not currently involved in these programs to branch out can aid in the transformation of our industrial base towards more socially productive outcomes.

China, for example, has several large water distribution projects underway which will transform huge regions of the country side. The approach taken by a centrally directed government has produced undesirable ecological damage, disruption of a large amount of local population, and unprecedented graft. In a democratic society there is less risk of such forced development. What is needed a desire to improve our infrastructure, thus providing improved living conditions, a more competitive international environment, and a boost to the economy.


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