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Arianna Huffington on Technology

2004 former Independent Challenger for CA Governor


Need $2.2T for infrastructure by 2015; only $975B budgeted

Building things has always been an integral part of who we are as a country. We created highways, waterways, railroads, and bridges to link us together and forge a strong nation. But those once-glorious systems are falling apart an alarming rate--a casualty of lack of funding, old age, and neglect.

In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) released its comprehensive infrastructure report card; the overall grade was an appalling D. The report noted a downward trend since 2005. It' the kind of report card you would have expected on the eve of the collapse of the Roman Empire.

But despite the desperate state of affairs, America remains in denial. According to the ASCE, we would need to invest $2.2 trillion over the next 5 years just to bring our existing infrastructure up to a passable level (let alone a level appropriate for the 21st century). But we've only budgeted $975 billion for that period. America's antiquated infrastructure is desperately in need of an extreme makeover

Source: Third World America, by Arianna Huffington, p. 93-95 , Sep 2, 2010

$8B stimulus for high-speed rail is a drop in the bucket

Many train rides in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s took less time than those journeys would today. For instance, in 1934, the Burlington Zephyr would get you from Chicago to Denver on around 13 hours. The same trip takes 18 hours today.

At the moment, the only high-speed train in the US is Amtrak's Acela, which travels the Washington-NYC-Boston line. And I use the term "high-speed" very loosely. While in theory the trains have a peak speed of 150 mph, the average Acela speed is just 71 mph, while its trains frequently stuck behind slower-moving ones on the heavily traveled tracks.

Meanwhile, countries such as Japan, France, and Italy all have reliable train services that surpass 200 mph. Same with China. For example, the 600-mile ride between Wuhan and Guangzhou is completed in 3 hours by bullet trains reaching 217 miles per hour.

The stimulus bill included $8 billion for high-speed rail projects in thirty states. While this new investment is a start, it's only a drop in the bucket.

Source: Third World America, by Arianna Huffington, p.105-106 , Sep 2, 2010

Broadband usage 46% among blacks; 65% among others

Unfortunately, when it comes to broadband, America is falling behind. In 2001, the US ranked 4th among industrialized countries in broadband access. By 2009, we had dropped to 15th. Breaking the numbers down by race and income reveals depressing discrepancies. For instance, around 65% of Asian Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics use broadband at home; that usage rate falls to 46% for African Americans. Among household earning more than $100,000 a year, 88% have access to broadband versus 54% among households making between $30,000 and $40,000.

To help close the widening gap between us and the rest of the digitally connected world, the Obama administration has proposed a national broadband plan, with the goal of increasing broadband access from around 63% currently to 90% by 2020. The plan would also ensure that every high school graduate is digitally literate. This sounds great. But 2020? That hardly has the sense of urgency you'd expect from a country that is quickly falling behind.

Source: Third World America, by Arianna Huffington, p.112-113 , Sep 2, 2010

Bush Sr. proposed Mars for $400B, Bush Jr. for $12B?

Bush plans to spend $12 billion trying to imitate JFKís inspiring look toward the heavens. The president obviously believes that offering a big and bold idea such as sending an American to the Red Planet by 2020 will capture the imagination of voters (and keep their minds off the steadily mounting domestic problems here).

But if itís really big, bold ideas Bush wants, how about forgetting Mars and concentrating on another planet thatís in need of some attention: Earth. Starting with the steadily deteriorating condition of our environment. Itís not like Mother Earth is exactly the picture of health.

I donít mean to play psychologist, but Bushís Mars initiative seems yet another step toward completing his fatherís unfinished business. Papa Bush also proposed a manned mission to Mars-a program that was shot down due to its projected $400 billion to $500 billion price tag. And those are 1989 dollars. Iím not sure how Junior is planning to pull it off for a mere $12 billion.

Source: Fanatics and Fools, by Arianna Huffington, p.136-137 , Apr 14, 2004

Opposes Prop 53 because money will come from social programs

I oppose Prop 53, because unless there is a dedicated funding stream, that money will have to be taken from somewhere. And it will be taken out of schools, or health care provision. We canít afford to do that. Absolutely, we need to improve our infrastructure, but I want to be the kind of governor who would also bring a larger vision to this issue. Itís not enough to just talk about fixing what we have. We need to look at the fact that if we actually become the leader in renewable energy and we become the leader in having high speed rail and we are looking ahead at the future, then weíll be able to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and be able to fix our infrastructure.
Source: Recall Debate, Cal. State Univ. at Sacramento , Sep 24, 2003

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Page last updated: Jul 06, 2014