A lot of people didn't even hear about the recent "Infrastructure Week" until it was over – shuttered after an abortive meeting between the President and Democratic leaders in Congress. And the long-term American infrastructure issues are pretty important – everything in the country is spread out and living standards are high. Add to that a massive investment in roads after Detroit's success, creating a lot of infrastructure in many American cities needing serious maintenance or replacement – all at the same-ish time. It's a slow-moving, smeared out problem – both in time and space. And the overwhelming majority of the infrastructure that needs upgrading is underground. Just maintaining things is the biggest responsibility of the people managing infrastructure, and they can't even barely do that.

Combined with an increase in need is an increase in costs (probably mostly from Baumol effects?), that means someone should do something, maybe. The problem is certainly serious. But it's mostly a local issue, so the federal government would need to do some pretty wacky things to get its mitts on the money flow.

But oh, don't worry, this isn't even the second Infrastructure Week you missed. The problem is that what people want (mostly) is a big financing plan – basically, Republicans have proposed giving money to local governments if the locality chips in 80% of the cost, and Democrats want either something confusing or a federal infrastructure loans program that local governments would have to pay back.

No plans actually solve the problem of where the money is coming from, really. Lots of states are strapped for cash, and infrastructure is already a big problem for cities. Somebody has to foot the bill, and the people using the infrastructure sure don't want to do it.

I'm not sure I know of any easy solutions, but certainly a simple one would be to raise tax rates and focus on fixing and maintaining infrastructure. You want a shiny toy, like new roads? Single payer health care? School vouchers? Anything? That should probably take a backseat to this, unless your trying to fund the court system or basic law enforcement.

The consensus seems to be American drivers don't pay a reasonable gas tax. We should definitely pay for road maintenance, and probably congestion charges. If climate change is too much for you, don't worry, those stinky tailpipes produce plenty of more boring pollution (with real human costs) to make the optimal tax essentially double the price you pay at the pump.

I don't drive a car, so I'm just guessing, but that sounds like a pretty rough new tax for people to pay. Probably better for sewage to flood their house because the infrastructure breaks down, or for their car to (very economically) get destroyed by ill-maintained roads.