Felix Rohatyn, a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, was a managing director at the investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co. LLC and served as the U.S. ambassador to France. From 1975 to 1993, Mr. Rohatyn was chairman of the Municipal Assistance Corporation of the State of New York, where he managed the negotiations that enabled New York City to resolve its financial crisis.
Bold Endeavors: How Our Government Built America, and Why It Must Rebuild Nowby Felix G. Rohatyn
In this timely and urgent book, Rohatyn re-creates some of the most dramatic events in our history to show how strong and imaginative political leadership built America and demonstrates that such leadership is essential today to reverse the catastrophic degeneration of America’s infrastructure, bridges, tunnels, roads and rails, flood levees and gates.
In this timely and urgent book, Rohatyn re-creates some of the most dramatic events in our history to show how strong and imaginative political leadership built America and demonstrates that such leadership is essential today to reverse the catastrophic degeneration of America’s infrastructure, bridges, tunnels, roads and rails, flood levees and gates. Readers of David McCullough and Stephen Ambrose will revel in his narrative. Although the private sector has been the mainstay of America’s economy, Felix Rohatyn argues the country could not have grown into its full destiny without the vision and determination of political leaders who imagined the future and acted to achieve it.
He begins with the Louisiana Purchase by Thomas Jefferson in 1805, which doubled the size of the country, and the construction of the Erie Canal in 1817-1825, which opened a water route to the West. The chartering of the Trans-Continental railroad, the Land Grant Colleges, and the Homestead Act in 1863, led by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, together opened the continent. The Panama Canal, which joined the east and West coasts by sea, was driven by Theodore Roosevelt. FDR’s Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway program modernized America, and the GI Bill of rights, which came after World War II, remains the greatest investment in intellectual capital and housing in our history.
Rohatyn describes these enterprises as examples of the imagination and decisive leadership that the country is in desperate need of, and, in a final chapter, he predicts the multiple benefits of similarly bold undertakings to secure our nation’s future and offers a blueprint for setting priorities and financing them.
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Felix Rohatyn starts this fascinating book, "The nation is falling apart - literally. America's roads and bridges, schools and hospitals, airports and railways, ports and dams, waterlines and air-control systems - the country's entire infrastructure - is rapidly and dangerously deteriorating." Levees failed to hold New Orleans' floodwaters, a Minnesota bridge collapsed during rush-hour, three-quarters of America's school building are outdated and inadequate, more than a quarter of its bridges are obsolete or deficient, and half the locks on its waterways are obsolete. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the USA needs to invest $1.6 trillion in the next five years to make America's infrastructure safe. He shows how large-scale public investments have worked in the past: the Louisiana Purchase; the Erie Canal; the transcontinental railroad, Land Grant colleges and the Homestead Act - all backed by Abraham Lincoln; the Panama Canal; FDR's Rural Electrification Administration and Reconstruction Finance Act; the G.I. Bill; and the interstate highway system. Rohatyn argues that the USA needs a National Infrastructure Bank to select, finance and manage the needed investments in infrastructure. "America needs to rebuild its infrastructure. It is a critical national priority, a costly long-term investment, and a visionary enterprise. It is a program that can provide tens of millions of much needed jobs. And it is an undertaking that can only succeed if it is directed, coordinated, and largely financed by the federal government."
If you are tired of bailouts that only prop up the status quo, do yourself a favor and read this book. You will be inspired by the stories of leaders who made bold decisions and changed the course of this nation. It is a good lesson in realizing that while change doesn't come easy, it can be realized by perservenance. If you know you congressman, buy him or her this book and ask them to GET SOMETHING DONE!