By Greg Sitek
It should be impossible to ignore the facts of life but we do it all the time. Here are the Facts of Life we simply can’t afford to disregard:
Fact 1. Without roads and a modern up-to-date infrastructure society, as we know it, cannot exist.
Fact 2. Without roads and a modern up-to-date infrastructure commerce, as we know it, cannot exist.
Fact 3. Without manufacturing and the production of consumable products, we cannot continue to grow.
Fact 4. There is no free lunch! “Pay me now or pay me later.”
In the recent State of the Union Address President Barack Obama acknowledge the need for an up-to-date infrastructure and highway system and increased domestic manufacturing.
Why don’t we have them? Taxes.
Without funding we can’t have roads, bridges, or any other federally governmentally funded programs. Think of it this way: No money in no money out.
Next year the federal gas tax, which is 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel, expires. Without its renewal our transportation infrastructure, as we know it, will cease to exist. www.gaspricewatch.com/web_gas_taxes.php
I had the honor of attending Kleinfelder’s 27th annual Professional Development and Technical Training Seminar in Denver. Attendees include 750-800 Kleinfelder employees, prospective clients, prospective acquisitions and guests. At breakfast on the second day, William C. (Bill) Siegel, president and CEO, openly discussed any issues presented by any of the attendees. During this time he talked about Obama’s commitment to improving our infrastructure and revitalizing our manufacturing.
I had the privilege of sitting next to Siegel during lunch and we talked about the infrastructure. “To me the basic infrastructure is what supports the quality of life we enjoy,” Siegel said. “It’s traveling on safe highways, going over a safe bridge, turning on the power and it comes on, turning on the water and being able to drink it without concern, all that and more is the infrastructure we use.”
He continued saying, “Time marches on and buildings gets older, roads get older, bridges get older; they have to be repaired, maintained, updated so we have to raise the funds to do it. The gas tax is one way of doing it and it really isn’t a tax. It’s user fee, probably the one true user fee that we have.”
We discussed other ways of generating the funds to pay for our transportation infrastructure and Siegel said, “I don’t think anybody likes to pay more taxes but there comes a time when we have to stand and say, this is what’s demanded.
“I know that people would like to have different taxes, there’s the Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT), a tax on a barrel of oil… I’m not opposed to working towards that because there are flaws in the gas tax. The alternative fuel vehicles are getting a free pass at this time. But in my mind the fuel tax is the best thing we have today and we can’t sit around and wait 5, 10 or 15 years for someone to come up with something better. By then it will be far worse than it is now and maybe too late; we’ll have to start over.”
He continued, “We may have the technology or could have it in five years but public acceptance isn’t there. People won’t like the government knowing exactly where they went. If we want to continue our way of life we have pay for it.”
Siegel believes that most Americans want to pay their fair share and that it’s incumbent on politicians to develop an approach to sell the user fee concept to the people.
AEM commends the President’s focus on infrastructure and manufacturing during State of the Union. Obama Delivers State of the Union Address, focuses on infrastructure investment and manufacturing jobs
Following Obama’s State of the Union address, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater issued the following statement:
“Last night, President Obama used his State of the Union address to express the need to create jobs and grow our economy. I couldn’t agree more. And while he touched on the important subjects of growing the manufacturing sector and improving our nation’s infrastructure, there was a glaring absence of focus on policies that could immediately create jobs and provide certainty to our economy.
Volvo CE head of American sales Göran Lindgren says that significant political will is needed to repair the country’s ‘one big pothole’.
“It seems that political will is finally catching up with what the construction industry –and motorists – have known for years: That America’s highway system is seriously dilapidated and in dire need of repair and modernization.” says Lindgren, head of Volvo Construction Equipment’s Americas business, following President Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he highlighted the need for infrastructural renewal on a grand scale.
Admitting that the country’s infrastructure – especially roads and bridges – were badly in need of repair, the President outlined his intention to boost the economy via improvements in transportation links.
“Businesses and citizens depend on basic transportation infrastructure every day for their livelihoods and they know that the current level of investment is not sustainable,” Lindgren continued. “Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently described America as ‘one big pothole’ – and he’s right.”
It may be our industry that builds the roads and infrastructure but it’s all of us who use them. We all need to support a continuation and increase of the fuel tax when it comes up for renewal next year. We all need to support the president’s focus on our infrastructure and manufacturing needs. United we stand divided we fall…
This editorial appeared in the March 2013 issues of the 13 ACP magazines.