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A brief history of US infrastructure

To understand the visceral reaction of many in the US to the whole notion of infrastructure privatization, it is important to look at history. Infrastructure has been the binding agent without which the US would not exist. It has played a crucial role in all the most important episodes in the country’s history. From the times of the earliest settlers hacking their way through the wilderness, to unifying the 13 colonies into a new nation, to expanding westwards in the 19th century, to healing the nation after the civil war and in putting it back to work after the Great Depression, infrastructure has physically bound the US together.

There have been two distinct phases of financing this infrastructure. From the colonial times to the Great Depression, the state and federal governments saw the need to build infrastructure but they didn’t have the money to do so. They adopted a two-tier approach, where some infrastructure was paid for by the government, while at the same time land grants were given to encourage the private sector to invest to build the rest.

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