Our strange president says that — besides making our military more capable of disintegrating the world and eliminating pesky immigrants and putting sick people in their place (alleys and dumpsters) — he will fix America’s ailing infrastructure. So what is this infrastructure thing and how do you fix it?
The examples I keep hearing about are bridges and roads. Those sound infrastructurish, but are they the whole picture? To answer the question, “what is infrastructure?” I would ask “what is infra-?” and then “what is -structure?”
Infra- is easy. Infra- means under- or “deep.” I went to college in the ’60s and the ’70s, so I dig deepness. I had a friend in graduate school (let’s call him Bill) who seemed incapable of talking about anything unless he could either end by slamming the table and shouting “smash the state” or he could utter the words “it’s so deep man, you’ve got to, like, open your eyes.”
Because Bill was only a part-time revolutionary but spent most of his time as a physics student, the things I had to open my eyes to in order to satisfy him were, thankfully, only occasionally quotes from Chairman Mao. Usually they were such things as fractional dimensional dynamics.
Bill would come in gushing about how deep fractional dimensional dynamics is. So I would say, “Wow, really? So what is fractional dimensional dynamics, Bill, and specifically how is it fractional dimensional, and then how is it dynamics?” And I would find out Bill didn’t have the foggiest idea, and he was hoping I could open my eyes to the depth and then tell him what they were.
This is unfortunately where I feel we stand with regard to Donald Trump.
Now, as to -structure. The root here is the same one from which we get stereo, strew, and sternum. We are talking about that which is systematically built up, that which spreads out, that which is ordered so as to presumably be useful, to contain activity or form a framework for good stuff like lungs and grapevines and sounds and sights.
In other words, it’s a pretty general word that includes almost anything we need to grow and build on. I don’t think Trump gets that either. To him, deep means you can walk over it and structure means it’s like a bridge or a road.
I have no faith in the depth of Trump’s understanding of depth itself or his grasp of the extent of the meanings of infrastructure.
Infrastructure includes communications, schools, hospitals and clinics. Infrastructure includes humans themselves, which are part of an economy, which lies within an environment. The health of all of which are instrumental to each other. They are all necessary.
We need a society founded in education and people who are healthy and we need to not just be safe from missiles but to have safe homes and air and water and food.
Water treatment is infrastructure! When is Trump going to even talk about fixing the broken water systems of this country? What, water isn’t solid enough? He can’t walk on it, therefore it doesn’t fit his definition of infrastructure? Not everything important is to be walked on.
Schools are infrastructure, and I don’t mean the buildings. The most important parts of a school are the students, teachers and learning resources (books, libraries, and freedom to access them). Students need freedom from illness and freedom from malnutrition, to be free to learn. So the education infrastructure has to be built upon and around the health system and the agricultural system. They aren’t independent.
Ben Carson proves you can live and sort of walk and talk, and even be a successful neurosurgeon, without a fully functioning brain. But for America to really be great, as many of us as possible should have complete minds. We should know for example that as expensive as housing for the poor may be, having millions of poor people among us unhoused would be far costlier.
Ben Carson doesn’t know that, because he can’t do the math. Trump hasn’t even tried to think it through. Homelessness is something he hasn’t experienced, and he doesn’t care about what doesn’t hurt himself directly.
How long before Trump tweets, “Who knew infrastructure could be so complicated?”