Scripture speaks to us of the “cornerstone”of our faith. The cornerstone is, of course, Jesus. But the Apostle Paul goes on to suggest that that cornerstone causes people to stumble and fall when they are not watchful about what they are constructing. That insight is helpful in looking at the recently proposed infrastructure plan.
I recently heard someone say, “that a budget is a moral document.” Where the money goes is where the priorities of the institution lies. Those priorities will determine the infrastructure, that is the success and stability, of that institution. Many years ago I remember a community member resigning from our school board because all the discussion was on bricks and mortar and not on students and learning. School boards need to begin with the students and their needs and then work out from that point. A former pastor once told our church board that a “Church budget is always a faith document.” If everything is going for upkeep and very little for missions and outreach and dealing with the poor, then the church has lost its focus. Better to have a storefront church than be wrapped up in a building and its beautification. I saw a poster that said, “Wear the old coat, buy the new book.” Again a statement on where your priorities are.
Now of course budgets need balancing and there is a need for contingency funds both personal and for larger institutions. But all focus should be on what good that budget can do. Children need to have comfortable desks, safe rest rooms, good meals, broadband access and well-stocked libraries. Teachers’ salaries need to measure what we are calling on them to do. Hospital personnel need the supplies and equipment to save lives. Savings, yes. Commonsense projects, yes. But still, the lives and well-being of those who call this place “home” should be our main focus.
I wish the U.S. Congress could take a bus trip throughout the country to inner cities desperation and poverty and rural isolation. “This isn’t flyover country. This is home.” (Sen. A. Klobuchar)
That is why I have been pleased to see the definition of the recent infrastructure bill includes more than bridges and roads. Infrastructure is the foundation built of everything we need to thrive, not just survive, as a people. That is why the talk of broadband access for every person in the country, for example, is so important. Someone recently pointed me to an article in the book OUR TIMES OUR LIVES about a Works Progress Administration project in Glendive. The WPA, i.e. government, brought in heavy-duty sewing machines and sewing rooms were set up in the basement of the high school and in Richey from 1935-1940.
Bundles of cut material came from Butte for boys’ and men’s shirts, children’s coveralls, girls and women’s blouses and slacks and men’s work pants. Recipients of the clothing were many. They mass-produced clothing for the poor, made curtains for the CCC camp near Butte and made bandages. Many volunteered time to make quilts after hours and fix football uniforms. Something to provide work for women, a little extra income and work with a purpose. It was all for building a sturdier foundation.
Infrastructure covers every aspect of our lives — racial equity, health care, insurance, and free clinics, for example. Our government buildings like our City Hall need updating and better accessibility for every citizen. The farm to market roads need care and anything having to do with transportation of goods and services to people (i.e., markets) — air service, rail service, ocean travel must be updated and cared for.
The past few years there has been a chipping away at the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to be shaped into a document that serves only special interests and a certain economic class of people. The issue of infrastructure is already political. Stubbornly, both sides put up unnecessary roadblocks simply because they don’t want the other fellow to look good. “A budget is a moral document”. We have millions and millions of people in this country who need help. The Depression of the 1930s may be 80 years ago, but the problems and issues are basic and moral ones and are still with us. The rich continue to fill their pockets and the politicians continue to accumulate power. And the people suffer.