Infrastructure and Bill Maher's contradictions

Maher wonders why we cannot have an Eisenhower-like highway project anymore. It's because of his own environmental zealotry.   Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2013 — Anyone who watches HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” knows that Maher promotes a far left agenda, especially on the environment. That is why it was so odd to hear Maher ask rhetorically why the U.S. could not just get up off its duff and invest in massive infrastructure, as President Eisenhower did  in constructing the inter-state highway system.

Maher asked why, if we made investments of this magnitude back then, we couldn’t do it now? His answer is in the mirror. Maher and the many environmental extremists he has showcased have helped make most large infrastructure enhancements today cost-prohibitive.

The difficulty in building a cross-country highway in this era centers not just on higher labor costs, but also on the unending, over-the-top environmental road blocks that would be placed at every square inch of the project. The same Bill Maher who supports President Obama’s curtailing of the Keystone Pipeline wonders why we cannot build anything anymore.

Back in 1931, in the midst of the Depression, it took less than fourteen months to complete the Empire State Building. The World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001, and twelve years later, a new building is still not open.

In 2009 the nation was paralyzed by the worst recession since the Depression. President Obama called for a massive stimulus program to get our infrastructure improved and our people to work. As a county executive at the time, I waited to hear how quickly we could get this money to put these new projects into motion. When it was announced  that none of the environmental bureaucracy was going to be waived, or even expedited, it was clear that no new productive infrastructure improvements would come about through the stimulus.

The government wanted “shovel-ready” projects, but the only such projects truly ready were those we were already going to do anyway. That turned out to be a mere repaving of our highways. Why couldn’t we do more?

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If you tried to lay an electric cable across the Long Island Sound to get needed power to Long Island, the environmental zealots, led by then attorney general, now senator, of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, would stop it. If you tried to get the abandoned Grumman Air Force site converted into something that would provide needed high-paying jobs, you would still be fighting an environmental group ten years later because a tiger salamander was somewhere on the property. If you tried to get needed overpasses on the parking lot known as Nesconset Highway, you would find that it was stymied by a handful of neighbors not wanting construction near their scenic overviews.

If an interstate highway system were first proposed in 2013, it could not be built.

When you go to China and see smog so thick you can cut it with a knife, you learn some appreciation for some of the environmental safeguards we have in this nation. But the extremists have taken things to such an extent that they are willing to kill off just about any major construction project because they claim it may harm our air or water.

Ironically, we have become a much safer and healthier nation since the major infrastructure improvements were built in our country. The construction of highway and electrical systems caused some air pollution and displaced some flora and fauna along the way, but where we would be today in terms of both our quality of life and our life spans if we had not allowed these major infrastructure improvements to materialize?

As Pogo would say to Bill Maher: “Mr. Maher, you have met the enemy, and it is you.”

Steve Levy is president of Common Sense Strategies, a political and business consulting firm.  He served as Suffolk County Executive from 2004-2011.

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Steve Levy

Steve Levy joins Communities as a poltical writer after serving as state and county legislator, and candidate for Governor of New York State, Steve Levy served as County Executive of Suffolk County, New York from 2004-2011.  Presently, Steve Levy is a political commentator and a strategist assisting candidates for elective office.


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