Watch one episode of Current TV’s Deadliest Journeys and you’ll appreciate all our nation’s roadways—from the rough but definitely passable dirt country road to the interstate highway.
Risking life and limb on the most treacherous of roadways just to get from point A to point B is everyday life for people in various parts of the world. The episode I caught was set in Papua New Guinea, about 1,500 miles north of Australia. Kevin, a delivery man, is tasked with hauling a load to Kongo, a town 140 miles away from his home.
This drive sounds simple enough. But on an island that’s 178,703 sq. mi. with more than six million inhabitants, there are only three poorly constructed roads. Kevin drives his double trailer truck over unpaved, steep and painfully uneven roads—in icy and muddy conditions—to reach his destination. In addition to dealing with the elements, Kevin must be on the lookout for thieves and looters. An accident makes him a prime candidate for robbery. Throughout the trip, Kevin chews betel root—a carcinogen—to stay awake.
A trip that would take roughly two hours for us here in America, takes Kevin 10 hours. After he drops off his load, he hops back in his truck and immediately begins the trip back home.
What if you were Kevin and had to risk your life every day to make deliveries, simply because your country doesn’t invest in roadways that could make your job safer and easier? What if you owned a delivery company in Papua New Guinea? How could you make a profit when it’s hard to predict how long it will take to complete simple deliveries?
When I think of President Obama’s recent remarks about how government investments in roads and bridges help businesses succeed, I can’t help but agree.
“Somebody invested in roads and bridges,” the President said. “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Although infrastructure isn’t the bulk of what government does, it’s certainly an important part. And aside from roads and bridges, how could we possibly expect to see the level of entrepreneurship in this country without some standard of education, health care, and government support of business?
Mitt Romney’s campaign recently launched the “These Hands” ad featuring Jack Gilchrist, owner of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, New Hampshire. In the ad, he asks, “Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it?” Over the years, Gilchrist Metal has received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds, government contracts of close to $100,000, and a $500,000 SBA loan.
It wasn’t the President’s aim to demonize those who are in business or to insinuate that they didn’t work hard to make these businesses successful. His remarks were meant to get business owners to realize and admit that no one travels the road to success alone.
Education provides the critical thinking needed to generate new ideas and grow business. Higher education fosters our social skills and gives us the opportunity to make the connections that will open doors for us. And infrastructure makes it possible for us to conduct business on time and predictably on budget.
Give credit where credit is due.
Do you think we’d have the level of successful entrepreneurship if it wasn’t for our infrastructure?
I was unable to find a clip of the “Deadliest Journeys” Papua New Guinea episode, but check out a clip from the Pakistan episode. This was probably one of the most intense drives documented on television.