Thursday, July 11, 2013
How Much Of a Third World Country is Okay for Canada?
We've been given a price tag for adapting Canada's essential infrastructure to climate change - one trillion dollars, give or take a few billion. I'm pretty sure that's an American trillion - one thousand billion - not the British trillion - one million billion.
So let's say we spread that out over fifty years at twenty billion per annum. The federal government alone supposedly takes in some $260-billion a year so $20 to 30-billion a year spread out among the feds, provinces and municipalities should be doable.
Do we have a fifty-year window to rehabilitate our infrastructure? That's highly unlikely. We're probably going to have to pick and choose what to maintain, what to fix and what to simply abandon, at least for the time being.
At the same time, we've got a lot of infrastructure that's been getting very long in the tooth such as eastern Canada's power grid, our national railway system and did I mention the 401? The point is, not all of this infrastructure overall is going to be a drag on the economy or our government treasuries. A good chunk, maybe most, will pay dividends for decades, perhaps generations. Putting money into essential infrastructure is an investment just as much as it is an expense. There was a time we understood that.
The alternative, the status quo, is to kick these problems down the road instead of coming to grips with them today. That, however, is the road to Third Worldom. Utilities become interrupted, unreliable. Water service is available intermittently even as freshwater erupts through roads from broken mains. Sidewalks become impassible, roads become broken and cratered. Life itself becomes governed by sporadic conditions.