I don’t always agree with Friedman, but I certainly agree with the thrust of this article. Anyone who has gone from Seoul to the States has seen this as well (though there is also lots of counter-evidence). How can you not be stricken by the speed with which new technologies are delivered and how the government promotes (however awkwardly) the city/country as a destination for foreign travel and investment.
In my home city of Chicago, I had always thought of the El (elevated train) as a convenient, expedient way of making my way through the city. After years in Seoul enjoying one of the best subway systems in the world, I was embarrassed by the El on a recent trip home. The trains and stations were filthy, the cars smelled (not uncommon in Seoul), the tickets costly, and the pace was excruciatingly slow. It seems as if I could have walked the journey as fast as the El traveled.
Without a sincere focus on the infrastructure of America, we will experience a fall in prominence in my lifetime that mirrors the rise experienced during my Grandfather’s.