Asked recently if the U.S. could build the Hoover Dam today, historian Michael Hiltzik doesn't hesitate to say that it probably could not.
The Hoover Dam, of course, was built at the depths of the Great Depression, a magnificent monument to modern engineering, the bravery of its fearless hardhat builders and the "Can Do" ethic that not even the depression could vanquish. Today America is not in a depression, far from it, but "Can Do" has been replaced by "Can't Do," and while politicians of all parties and stripes share the blame, it is those obdurate Republicans who once again have led the charge in sucking the life out of a key element of the American ethos.
Virtually all economists agree that the way out of the lingering effects of the Bush Recession is to spend big and think big, and with America's infrastructure literally falling apart (the U.S. ranks 24th, between Malaysia and Taiwan) for the state of its infrastructure) and big projects once on the drawing board now in the dustbin, that is last thing that Congress is about to do.
That is such a pity because millions of unemployed Americans are desperate for work and America today is far wealthier than it was in the 1930s. But, alas, our political class is stricken by cowardice and there are no signs that will change anytime soon.