Just in case you were thinking that we were the only First World country with infrastructure problems.
Ailing Infrastructure: Scrimping Threatens Germany's Future
Spiegel Online, 27 June 2013 (hat tip: Big Picture)
From the outside, Germany appears to have a robust economy. But a new study by a leading economic institute reveals that the country is investing far too little in infrastructure and its future, effectively saving itself to death.
"Despite all the successes of the past few years, Germany has not created an investment basis to ensure robust growth," the researchers conclude.
In other words, Germany is living off its reserves. Bridges are crumbling, factories and universities are deteriorating, and not enough is being spent to maintain phone networks. This has resulted in a massive impoverishment of the country, according to DIW calculations.
Nearly 15 years ago, the state's net assets still corresponded to 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). When adjusted for inflation, this amounts to nearly €500 billion ($650 billion). By 2011, this had dwindled to 0.5 percent of GDP, or a mere €13 billion, primarily due to systematic neglect.
Generally, this is more of a failing of low tax regimes, than more liberal policies. But if you grow your infrastructure at a time of high growth, you are going to have problems when that growth stagnates and the bill for upkeep becomes a rather large portion of your overall budget. While operations and maintenance do keep some people employed, the materials and planning required for new construction is a much bigger boost to the economy.