Letters to the Editor

'Vitality of a society'

The editorial, "Time to invest in a new WPA" [July 20] understates our infrastructure problem. Not only is our infrastructure broken, but rebuilding our roads, bridges, schools and levees is a source of millions of new jobs. As Berkeley Professor Harley Shaiken has noted, the only thing we're building are "exit ramps from the middle class."

We have spent billions on rebuilding Iraq after destroying its infrastructure. Why not more "nation-building" at home?

History indicates that a capacity for maintenance is the best test of the vitality of a society. Following World War ll, the countries with the best maintenance were the first to recover, particularly West Germany, Holland, Belgium and Japan.

The Incas in Peru assigned entire villages and tribes to keep roads, bridges and buildings in good repair. In ancient Rome, a man was disqualified for office if his garden showed neglect.

Columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, "If all Americans could compare Berlin's luxurious central train station with the grimy, decrepit Penn Station in New York City, they would swear we were the ones who lost World War ll."

The only alternative to a massive program in which we rebuild our infrastructure is to become a Third World country.

Gary Walker