Viewpoint: Readers say infrastructure work could create jobs
In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama focused on creating jobs and improving the nation’s economic competitiveness. Two methods he mentioned were investing in “green” energy and further improving the nation’s infrastructure. American City & County asked the readers of its weekly e-mail newsletter if Obama’s proposals would help to create jobs. Below are some of the responses.
“I think, for the short term, some jobs will be created in the ‘green’ energy sector. Most of the job creation, I feel, will be in China not in the [United States], which helps [companies] turn a profit. However, once Obama is turned out of office and he can no longer siphon money from the taxpayer to support these ventures, those jobs too will disappear. Obama is in fact hurting the ability of the small business person to create jobs due to the uncertainty of tax liability, healthcare mandates, and a myriad of regulatory shackles his agency heads have saddled industry with. Too bad Obama is not really trying to reboot our economy. Ideology is a sad, sad, state of affairs in this particular instance. The same thing is happening in California to the extent that huge tax breaks and ‘investment’ capital (read taxpayer funded) is being siphoned to ‘green energy’ startups. These companies will fail because their products are too expensive for the common citizen. Democrats need to stop picking winners and losers in industry.”
—Roger Keener, equipment technician, Waterman Water Treatment Plant, Fairfield, Calif.
“Public transportation, whether bus, commuter train, light rail, streetcar or passenger and high-speed rail, is the underpinning of economically viable cities, and the president’s speech addressing his ongoing commitment to high-speed rail and public transportation infrastructure funding will help create new jobs. Florida is projecting that the Tampa‐Orlando high-speed rail project alone would create 23,000 jobs new jobs. California is projecting 600,000 construction-related jobs over the life of that state’s HSR program. For every dollar cities invest in public transportation, they generate $4 in economic returns, according to the [Washington-based] American Public Transit Association. Every billion dollars spent on transit produced 16,419 months of employment, or ‘job-months,’ according to a January 2011 report from [Washington-based] Smart Growth America and the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Developers are attracted to transit areas. The growth that has resulted from transit investment in Dallas, Denver and Portland, [Ore.,] and the new jobs that come with new business, are great examples. Put them together and there is no better investment for our nation in terms of job creation, promoting economic vitality and development than high-speed rail and transit.”
— Peter Gertler, chairman for National High-Speed Rail Services, HNTB Corp., Oakland, Calif.
“Not only will President Obama’s National Wireless Initiative create jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness, it will make America safer and allow public safety and first responders to be more efficient and effective everyday in their jobs of protecting us. The message of late is that America, and its governments at every level, must do more with less. As we all know, one way to do more with less is to access the latest technologies, applications and processes, expand automation, eliminate redundancy, and replace outmoded technologies and infrastructure. By allocating the D block spectrum to public safety with significant federal funding derived from other spectrum auctions, America will allow its law enforcement, fire, EMS and other first responders to access and use new data, video and voice applications and technologies out in the field, sending and receiving more data without having to drive to the office. By establishing this interoperable, nationwide, mission-critical public safety broadband capability, President Obama and leaders in Congress, [such as] Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W. Va., Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will finally be able to help our first responders to leverage the latest commercial broadband technologies to better protect us each and every day.”
— Sean Kirkendall, vice president, Cardinal Point Partners, Washington