Brokenland Note:
27 June 2014

¶ Henry Petroski’s Op-Ed piece in today’s Times, “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To,” focuses on perhaps the most worrisome failure of American government, the uselessness of its oversight of housing and road safety.

As we debate how to pay for infrastructure, we should also have a discussion about raising expectations for what we’re buying. Homeowners, project managers and legislatures alike must call to account suppliers and contractors who do not produce the quality of materials and work they promise. A roof or road that does not meet agreed-upon standards needs to be redone, at the irresponsible party’s expense.

Such challenges will naturally lead to delays and legal proceedings, but this is the price for getting things done right. In time, doing it right the first time will once again become wise and standard business practice, and we can look forward to infrastructure that looks good, works well and lasts.

Without such a commitment, the American future is lost.

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27 June 2014

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