Not all infrastructure is worth replacing

For weeks now, maybe months, I’ve been struggling to articulate something, and going through a bunch of false starts, and then moving on, only to have it come back to me in response to another article. I’ve been reading article after blog post after tweet after comment about the shitty state of America’s infrastructure, how we can’t build anything anymore, how shitty it was for Chris Christie to cancel the ARC tunnel because it meant that New Jersey wasn’t building big things. I’ve been reading things that assume I’m a “transportation advocate,” who really wants to see the transportation bill reauthorized so that we can get an “infrastructure bank” to help with mobility for the 21st century or something.

Well, maybe you’re a transportation advocate who wants an infrastructure bank, but I’m not. Now, I’m a mechanically inclined geek who likes to look at buildings and bridges and train lines, but I don’t think that the fate of the world depends on our ability to build or maintain large contraptions, and I refuse to mislead my fellow human beings just so I can get my jollies taking a ride on a high-speed train.

There are lots of situations where it’s a good idea to build something or replace something, but there are others where it doesn’t make any sense. Roads and sewers and power lines are tools. They have no inherent value, it all comes from their ability to help us reach a goal.