US infrastructure spending as a proportion of GDP is at a low not seen since WWII, and that's why America's bridges, dams, roads, power plants and other key infrastructure are such easy fodder for Hurricane Harvey (and the impending Irma devastation). Trump's plan for infrastructure spending is a "ludicrous patchwork of tax breaks and privatizations" that will do nothing to solve the problem.
Here are the graphs — the first, net public (meaning by federal, state, and local government) as a percent of GDP since 1950. I started the graph in 1950, even though the figures begin in 1929, because the extreme values of the Great Depression and World War II years would distort the scale dramatically. The second presents the averages by decade. As the graphs show, net public investment is in a long downtrend and is now at near-record-low levels. The only years with lower levels were 1942–45, when the civilian economy was starved to fund the war effort.
Net civilian investment was 0.5% of GDP in 2016; preliminary numbers for 2017 suggest it hasn’t budged. It declined during the Great Recession and its aftermath, and is now less than half 2007’s 1.2%. The contrast with the Great Depression is stark. Net civilian public investment rose from 1.9% of GDP in 1929, the year of the crash, to 3.2% ten years later. For the full decade of the 1930s, it averaged 2.6% — the same as the 1960s, a time of dramatic expansion in the public sector. Since then, it’s been mostly downhill.
To get back to that 2.6% average would mean an increase of $400 billion a year in public investment. (For details on the shortfall, and where the spending needs to be directed, see the American Society of Civil Engineers’ annual report on the topic.)
Why the United States Is Falling Apart
(via Naked Capitalism)
Jerry Falwell, Sr founded the Moral Majority, brought evangelicals into the voting booth, elected Ronald Reagan, and changed the face of American politics forever; his son, Jerry Jr now commands the Falwell empire, including Liberty University, which now has $3b in assets.
Supermajority's Gender Equality, the Status of Women and the 2020 Elections surveys likely 2020 voters (N=1912), finds a strong correlation between opposition and broad misogynistic beliefs, such as opposition to the idea that women and men should hold an equal number of positions of power; opposition to the #MeToo movement; a disbelief in the idea […]
David Howard, McSweeney's: "Let me tell you, it’s hard out here for an orc. We experience tremendous insecurity, not knowing whether we’ll have a job, or be able to raid peaceful villages, or if our friends will eat us. Sauron appeals to us economically challenged goblins because he offers us the chance of a decent […]
If you’ve worked in any high-performing engineering lab, you already know about MATLAB. This computing environment and the language that powers it is perfectly suited to science and math, with an interface that makes it easy to express and visualize complex algorithms – not to mention an infrastructure that lets it easily work with other […]
Studies have shown cannabidiol (more popularly known as CBD) to be effective in two main areas: Pain relief and stress relief. Both of those make the non-psychoactive, cannabis-derived compound a natural for topical creams. There’s no shortage of CBD products out there, but here’s eight of our favorites, all specifically designed for dermatological use – […]
If you’re part of the maker community, you know Make:. Though Make: magazine is off the shelves as of this year, the eBooks and resources put out by Maker Media are still a fantastic resource for the new generation of tinkerers, hackers, and robotics geeks. If you’re in that tribe, listen up: they’ve released a […]