I was driving in this morning and heard two things on the radio I just have to comment on.
First was just the latest in another series of commercials being run by Boeing and by EADS North America in their on-going battle to be chosen by the Pentagon to build a new generation tanker for the U.S. military. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the issue. I do know this has gone on a long time and has been very controversial. I guess a decision will be made soon. I certainly hope so; the commercials, while amusing, are getting tiresome.
One of the points they both make is that the project will create something like 50,000 jobs. An impressive number.
It made me think, though, of the project at Philadelphia Airport that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. That project will create 50,000 jobs over the next 13 years. An equally impressive number. We can’t afford commercials like Boeing and EADS can, but we need to re-double our efforts to get this message out.
Even more impressive to me is that through the entire course of human history, economic growth has depended on developments in transportation. From the invention of the wheel, the use of water borne transport, clipper ships, steam engines, the transcontinental railroad, and, of course, aviation, societies that have invested in infrastructure have grown. The growth places new demands on transportation systems, which must be improved and updated. This leads to more growth, placing more pressure on transportation, and so on. It is one of the basic laws of human existence; and it is a never-ending cycle. There is nothing static about it. We are never “done.” It saddens me that today’s debates on transportation tend to revolve around far narrower issues.
The other thing I heard this morning was the sad story of people trying to flee the murderous reign of Libya’s psychopath dictator. Apparently, the airport has been damaged, and they are using boats. I heard that some people trying to leave (embassy and corporate personnel, mostly) have pets and will be stuck in Malta or some other place while their animals are quarantined for some period of time. Isn’t there a way to waive this? Common sense, people!