Investing In Infrastructure And People Are What Made America Great

President Biden has introduced a massive two trillion dollar infrastructure bill that would not only repair our bridges and highways, but also bring broadband internet service to every corner of the country and increase renewable energy while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. This is a very big undertaking that has the potential to revolutionize our nation and keep the United States a world leader well into the 21st century. This bill is also called the American Jobs Plan and that much is true as the infrastructure projects will create thousands of well paying jobs throughout the country. It will also help reshape the nation for the remainder of this century. 

The largest previous infrastructure bill was the Interstate Highway Act of 1956. This was a pet project of then President Eisenhower and in fact the Interstate Highway System is named after our 34th President. As a young army officer in the 1930s, Eisenhower took a cross country trip on our highways from California to New York. That trip took several weeks over highways that were already inadequate for the traffic of that day.

Later, as a General in charge of NATO forces after the end of the Second World War, he saw the German autobahns that Hitler built before the war. Those autobahns connected the nation with high speed highways that bypassed cities, yet offered access to those cities. As a General, Eisenhower saw how those autobahns allowed Hitler to move troops and equipment through the country. He saw how a similar system in the United States could help better defend the nation as well as spur commerce.

Later, as President, Eisenhower pushed congress to fund a similar system of high speed highways across the United States. The result was the Interstate Highway Act that passed in 1956.

It would be an understatement to say that the interstate highways have totally remade the nation. It encouraged the building of suburbs further out from the central city. It also spurred commerce and led to huge shopping malls and centers near interstate highways. The highways also drained the aging central cities of their people and made ghost towns of small towns bypassed by the highways. It led to the creation of super stores that destroyed many “mom and pop” small businesses. But there is no argument that for every job lost because of the interstate highways, many more were created.

Perhaps the largest investment in people by the federal government was the passage of the G.I. Bill in 1944. This idea was proposed by Franklin D Roosevelt. The G.I. Bill, officially called the American Servicemen’s Readjustment Act provided many things to the returning veterans of the Second World War. Quite literally that was the government’s “thank you” for giving up part of your life to fight the war.

There were several parts of that act. One provided low interest little or no down payment mortgages for veterans to buy houses. My father used the G.I. Bill to buy a house in Parma and moved there in December 1949 when I was a little over a year old. Like every other father on my block, my father was a war veteran. The G.I. Bill literally built Parma as well as lots of other bedroom suburbs across the nation.

Another provision of the G. I. Bill was that it allocated money for returning veterans to use to pay college tuition and other educational costs. My father used the G. I. Bill to attend Western Reserve University to study marketing. He could leave his job at the Post Office and work in the world of marketing and advertising. His two brothers used the G. I. Bill to go to college and they became lawyers. Two uncles on my mother’s side of the family used the G.I. Bill to study engineering and both became engineers. My aunts and uncles also used the G. I. Bill to buy houses in Parma, Brooklyn Heights and Cincinnati.

Millions of other veterans took advantage of the G. I. Bill to go to college. Enrollments in colleges and universities across the nation surged after the Second World War. No doubt that the increased earnings generated by those people who used the G. I. Bill to attend college and buy a house created more jobs and the increased commerce and income generated also brought in more tax revenue.

With the new infrastructure bill being proposed by the president; we should not think of this as just another government expenditure or boondoggle, but as an investment in the nation’s future. Throughout history, great empires and civilizations have collapsed when they ignored their infrastructure and failed their people. We cannot allow this to happen to our country.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 3:45 AM, 05.01.2021