Potholes are in the news at the moment (see for example the link below). One of the themes that I shall cover in the essays (letter) to my children will be the ‘crisis of capital’ that comes with the end of mankind’s era of industrial-age rates of economic growth. Economic stagnation or, worse, economic contraction (we’re kind of there now) means that the economy cannot and will not generate surplus capital; certainly not in the quantities needed to sustain our, er, unsustainable ‘developed world’ way of life.
It’s worth noting, therefore, that as capital becomes ever more scarce over the coming years, the UK’s local government authorities estimate that it would cost £12.93 billion to clear the entire road maintenance backlog. This month’s Which? magazine carries a report entitled ‘The Hole Truth’ in which they investigate the true nature and scale of the pothole problem.
One of the characteristics of ‘The Long Descent’ (see John Michael Greer’s eponymous book) will be a steady decline in the availability and quality of public services as we proceed towards a low/no growth future – whence capital scarcity will translate in to reducing levels of activity and investment.
So, we need to get used to potholes. Indeed, if you bear in mind the £12.93 billion spending requirement that I mentioned above and then analyse the figures in the linked article below you”ll be able to calculate for yourself that the roads situation will in fact be getting worse over the coming 5 years (and thereafter, I’ll wager).
And goodness knows … my guess is that it won’t be too long before it dawns on somebody that – at a cool £32 billion (multiplied between two- and four-fold if it ever gets going) – High Speed 2 is an unaffordable train set (as is creating a dual-carriageway all the way up the A9 from Perth to Inverness, Mr Salmond).
As ever, the politicos won’t be sharing this arithmetic with us. Everything’s gonna be fine, just fine.