Monday, August 22, 2016

Total Cost of Ownership

The bills – and hard work – don't end at the ribbon cutting

Ah, the joys of homeownership. Over the past few weeks I've experienced a faulty dishwasher, leaky shutoff value, and a 12-year-old who put a little too much weight on a bathroom towel bar.

And as I was driving into the office this morning I saw signs reminding me of Metrorail's ongoing Safetrack accelerated maintenance program. I don't ride Metro these days, but I used to and feel for those affected riders. At the same time, I feel disdain for those elected officials who point the finger of blame solely at Metro managers without the needed self-reflection on their complacency. Trouble brews when you look the other way.

Metro's Silver Line was opened with great fanfare by the politicians who pushed through the funding. But on that inaugural day, did any of them think of the disruptive Safetrack program and the need for continual rather than deferred maintenance?

On weekends I like biking the trails and neighborhoods of Fairfax County. But like Metro, the politicians ignore the need to plan for long-term maintenance of their pet projects. Many of the paved trails that run along side busy roads are potholed and undermined by tree roots. And while the Fairfax County Park Authority spent over $20,000 renaming the Cross County Trail for an incumbent congressman in an election year, the signs of that rebranding have largely disappeared while the trail waits for some needed TLC.

Neglect doesn't end with infrastructure. Social Security's trust fund is evaporating and its Disability Insurance component is being gobbled up by claims. Yet no one has put forth proposals to make it solvent.

Many politicians love the limelight but shirk the hard work of governing; that probably hasn't changed over time. But as our country gets older and our infrastructure ages, it's time to see those changes. Drop the golden shovel and maybe something gets done.