Banking for 21st Century American Infrastructure

I do Pilates every day and go to a Pilate’s class 3 times a week not because I like it – but because I know it’s essential to maintaining strong bones and muscles (the human infrastructure) over a life time.

I choke down two HUGE calcium pills each morning for the same reason.

Not bragging – but comparatively – my infrastructure’s in a lot better shape than America’s.

Just as the human body hangs on a strong skeletal muscular core – the USA’s economy hangs on a strong infrastructure.

That’s a problem.

Infrastructure Drives Productivity

Every hour each individual worker wastes commuting on overcrowded highways reduce our economic productivity decreases and pollution increases in our atmosphere.

An antiquated passenger and freight railway system delivers products to market too slowly at too high a price and serves too few passengers in a small number of commuter corridors.

Our international airports are the first impression we make on foreign tourists and foreign business people – seeking to do business in the United States. Too often – even in Washington, New York and Los Angeles – our airports look less like the gateway to the world’s largest economy and more like the bus station in the 1969 movie Midnight Cowboy.

When portions of our electric grid fail, commerce stops. The national economy shrinks.

Drought and floods both result in costly economic dislocation.

Infrastructure is a Big Capital Expense

We know that our electrical grid, water storage and transport systems are at risk of attack from saboteurs and/or hackers.

There is no effective urban evacuation plan in earthquake prone California. Our road system is inadequate, at risk of failing in a major earthquake and not a reliable corridor of escape.

Baton Rouge flooded for lack of a by-pass canal.

But no one is doing anything to solve the problem

Why? It costs money.

America Needs an Infrastructure Bank

It is time to charter a USA Infrastructure Bank with sufficient capital to meet the estimated demand.

The bank would use its capital to make loans to Federal Highway System, states, localities, airports, Amtrak, and publicly owned utility providers to fund infrastructure refurbishment and upgrades.

The loans would be repaid from taxes, bonds issued by government entities and service fees paid by users.

Hillary Clinton has proposed such a bank as part of her Presidential campaign. Three bills were introduced in Congress in 2015 but never made it out of committee.

These proposals would charter the bank as a WHOLLY OWNED GOVERNMENT CORPORATION.

The problem is we already have one and know the consequences.

The US Post Office is a wholly owned government corporation!

An Economic Shot-in-the-Arm

Rebuilding, modernizing and securing our infrastructure would give the US economy a huge boost.

The American Association of Civil Engineers estimates that needed infrastructure upgrades could add up to $3 trillion by 2020:

  • Create millions of new “skilled jobs” with good wages.
  • Boost productivity by speeding people and goods to market at a lower costs
  • Encourage innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship – leading to new industries and new global opportunities
  • Increase our national security and protect the homeland.

Who is going to pay for it without adding to the National Debt?

Let’s Make a Deal with Big Business

The Treasury estimates that US multi-national corporations are holding approximately $2.3 trillion in profits off-shore to avoid the world’s highest business tax rate.

Repatriating these profits could generate as much as $8 trillion in U.S. domestic economic activity.

This economic elixir is going to remain off-shore as long as the US Treasury demands 35 percent tax-off-the-top.

Why not offer these tax payers a deal they can’t refuse — one-time tax of 15 percent on only half of their off-shore profits in return for lending the other half to the newly chartered USA Infrastructure Bank for a fixed period of time?

To protect their “investments” the corporations (for example Apple, Google, Facebook, Merck, etc.) would be granted the majority of seats on the new bank’s Board of Directors — in ratio to their contribution.

  • The corporations would receive interest on their “investment” in the bank.
  • The corporations could use the money exactly as they do today – collateral for bank borrowing to finance operations.
  • “Investment” would be returned to the corporations after a specified period of time.

Don’t Upgrade — Innovate

Instead of replacing 20th century structures and systems with more “modern” facilities, a Board dominated by the most innovative business leaders in the world would move to capitalize opportunities currently in the design and development stage: Innovative thinkers will anticipate the future — asking questions that lead to a merger of 21st and 22nd century infrastructure.

  • How will driverless cars change the way we drive and build roads?
  • Should we invest in building high speed railways or jump to Hyperloop connections between major cities?
  • Can we turn oceans into environmental friendly sources of water and electricity versus building more reservoirs?

This kind of thinking increases the chances of making major technological breakthroughs exponentially. Innovation can create new global commercial opportunities for American entrepreneurs!

A partnership between business and government can demonstrate to politicians and bureaucrats the value of thinking strategically rather than tactically — the first step toward the 21st century American citizens want and deserve.

What does the USA have to lose?