It can be said that America is behind when it comes to infrastructure maintenance and development. Then again, that’s not an area where you’re ever really ahead.
I predict we will see a significant increase in the investment of our tax dollars in infrastructure development.
People on both sides of the Middle Majority lament the “wasteful spending” when the opposing party is doing the spending, but the fact is that partisan politics and economic reality don’t always align, and administrations from both parties have historically increased investment in infrastructure to boost our economy while solving real problems. And many people will realize, “Hey, it’s a good thing to have good roads and bridges, it’s a good thing to connect everyone to broadband, it’s a good thing to invest our tax dollars in ways that create new jobs and improve our quality of life.”
Yes, some of this investment will be controversial. For example, the FCC’s recent Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction awarded millions to Elon Musk’s Starlink, which hopes to blanket the sky with Low-Earth Orbit satellites that will connect us all to the internet. Early tests showed disappointingly low connection speeds, and engineers say for Starlink’s network to truly have an impact there will need to be many times more satellites in our skies. Is this an investment worth pursuing if it enables Starlink to perfect this technology and eventually play a leading role in delivering broadband to all of America? Some will say, “No, we have limited tax dollars available and should only invest them in proven technology.” Others will argue that public dollars play an important role in advancing technology, and this is a prime example that should be pursued.
We will also see controversy around solar technology and battery storage investments. There are those who view these as liberal wishful thinking, impractical technology that will never scale. Others see it as critical to our energy independence, not to mention a major weapon in our fight against climate change. I predict there will be increased attention focused on the impact such technologies have on job growth and scientific advancement as the general public becomes more aware of developments in these fields.
Less controversial will be the visible investment in repairs and new construction of roads and bridges, where heavy equipment and workers with hard hats are building lasting things that make transportation safer, less congested, and more convenient.
I don’t believe it’s an overstatement to say 2021 marks one of the top five defining moments in our nation’s history. The path we take as a whole will be determined by decisions made at all levels — from government leaders setting policy to individuals setting standards of personal conduct. When we return to these predictions a year from now, my hope is that we find ourselves healing on many fronts, growing and learning from others, and becoming better neighbors, citizens, and leaders because of the hard road we have walked with our fellow Americans.
(Last of three excerpts from the article, “What Lies Ahead: 11 Predictions for 2021 and Beyond” by Stephen V. Smith. The original can be found in its entirety on Medium. Note: Opinions of the writer do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WordSouth and its affiliates.)