Magazine May 3, 2021, Issue

Infrastructure in Theory and in Practice

A cell-phone tower over a forested rural area of West Virginia (BackyardProduction/Getty Images)
Broadband isn’t the new railroad

The American theory of infrastructure was for much of our history — and to a limited extent still is — an idea about multiplying the value of the assets and resources we already have. It’s a conversation we keep repeating — with the same truths and, unhappily, with the same errors.

In the beginning, it was “improvements,” meaning canals at first and then, famously and controversially, the construction of the railroads, as heavy-handed an example of corporatism as U.S. business history has to offer. But it was based on a sound idea: There was a great deal of interior land in

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This article appears as “Broadband Isn’t the New Railroad” in the May 3, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners




When I saw the chop-suey font in the CNN story I was reminded of a powdered-drink product from my youth: Funny Face.


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