March 25, 2004

Replenishing Seed Corn

Part of the problem of the Iraqi reconstruction is that so much of what is wrong with Iraq is replenishing dangerously depleted 'seed corn'. While actual seed corn is also a problem, most of what I'm talking about is the maintenance and improvements that are both difficult to spot in the normal order of business and which dictatorships habitually try to make people believe are not important. The dictatorships do this in order for them to rob these accounts and create their 'miracles' of efficiency and national pride with the money. By the time the infrastructure becomes totally dilapidated, it can be decades later.

This is not unique to dictatorships. The most obvious example of this in the US is the collapse of the West Side Highway in New York City due to many years of delayed maintenance and other neglect. It took over a decade for NYC to climb out of its maintenance hole and some claim that it hasn't fully climbed out to this day. Certainly, the West Side Highway was never fully restored. The problem (and it's largely unsolved as far as I can tell) is how to make such normal maintenance tasks both visible and a sign of bad government when they start to be robbed?

Posted by TMLutas at March 25, 2004 01:04 PM