Summer Read: Bold Endeavors

Bold Endeavors: How Government Built America, and Why It Must Rebuild It Now by Felix Rohatyn

Background: Rohatyn was an investment banker with Lazard Freres before a second career in public service bailing out NYC from the brink of bankruptcy and serving as Ambassador to France under Clinton.

Central premise: “The nation is falling apart — literally. America’s roads and bridges, schools and hospitals, airports and railways, ports and dams, water lines and air control systems — the country’s entire infrastructure — is rapidly and dangerously deteriorating.

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. 

It is an undertaking that can only succeed if it is directed, coordinated, and largely financed by the federal government.

And, contrary to the glib reaction for many contemporary ideological naysayers, large-scale public investments can work, and with remarkable long-term success.”

Consider 10 bold endeavors that were done by the Federal government and had a 


  1. Louisiana Purchase (1803) … doubled the size of the country, and put the Port of New Orleans under US control
  2. Erie Canal (1825) … linked the Atlantic Ocean to the Great lakes … established NYC as a major port and center of commerce
  3. Transcontinental Railroad (1869) … enabled coast to coast travel
  4. Land Grant Colleges (1862) … provided greater access to higher education
  5. Homestead Act (1862) …  incentivized people to move west and settle the new frontiers
  6. Panama Canal (1914) … shorten travel time from Atlantic to Pacific, economic and security benefits.
  7. Rural Electrification Administration (1936) … brought electric power to sparsely populated rural areas
  8. Reconstruction Finance Corporation (1936)  …  TARP v.1.0 … provided credit backstops and bailout funds to companies struggling out of the Depression.
  9. G.I. Bill (1944) … provided education benefits, supplemental unemployment benefits to service people returning from WWIIto
  10. interstate Highway System (1956) … provied “go anywhere” coverage for US citizens – in times of peace and war.

Bottom line:  The above is about all that you ever need, so save your money

One Response to “Summer Read: Bold Endeavors”

  1. Mike Says:

    It’s obvious we need do something in area, e.g. upgrading the electric grid or building high speed rail along key routes. Rather than rebuilding our infrastructure, we’ve been spending hundreds of billions in Iraq. Americans waste hundreds of hours every year in traffic because we didn’t have the money to upgrade our infrastrucutre. The Chinese are investing in themselves.

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