I believe it was Eric Hoffer who said that the mark of a nation’s civilization was the degree to which it maintained its infrastructure. In other words, while the ability to erect impressive structures is a sign of technological and artistic expertise, the real sign of a mature culture is its attention to upkeep.

I thought about that when I read Masson’s blog this morning; he notes the need to attend to our aging sewers, and makes much the same point that Hoffer did. It is a point worth pondering in an age where citizens seemingly care about nothing other than low taxes.

Muncie has 368 miles of water lines and some 600 miles of sewer lines, many of which were constructed 75 to 95 years ago, Bennington said.

I only mention it to note the difficulty in budgeting for upkeep of infrastructure. Present needs have a way of shoving aside intentions to set aside money for future needs. When you build something, it’s a certainty that repairs will be needed in the future. It’s almost as certain that routine maintenance will be less expensive in the long run than deferring maintenance until something catastrophic happens. But, it’s hard to say “no” to a present need or to raise taxes just to pay for something preventative on systems that are largely taken for granted.