The neglect of maintenance


One salient trend in American society over the past fifty years has been a declining interest in maintenance.
This shows up in several areas:
  • General physical infrastructure.
  • Specific buildings.
  • Social structures.

The decline of investment in maintaining America's physical infrastructure has been well-documented,
but little has been done to stem that decline.
Evidently nineteenth and early twentieth-century American were far more interested in building the infrastructure we now use
than we are in maintaining that infrastructure.

For an example of lack of interest in maintaining specific buildings,
see the Washington Post story below, about the situation at D.C. General Hospital.

As to social structures, consider the feminist movement.
While some women, especially in the media, have been describing that movement as an "advance",
it has delivered a hard blow against at least one significant social structure, marriage.
Do you find that hard to believe?
Well, I remember the 1960s, when college girls were described as going to college to get their Mrs. degree.
And the fact is that many, if not most, did.
Indeed, my ex-wife picked up her BA and MRS in the same month.
And she was hardly alone; many of her classmates, both at that college and nationwide married people they met at college.
I don't know the exact comparative data between then and now,
but in general the age of first marriage has gone up,
and also the number of never-married individuals.
I think that to avoid assigning significant responsibility for that trend on feminism is delusional.

Back to maintenance:
We have seen less interest in maintaining both physical and social structures.

D.C. family homeless shelter beset by dysfunction, decay
By Justin Jouvenal, Robert Samuels and DeNeen L. Brown
Washington Post, 2014-07-13


City officials and homeless advocates say D.C. General has never been properly maintained because most saw it as a Band-Aid for the city’s homelessness problem. The city began using the facility as a temporary shelter on cold nights in 2001, when the family shelter, D.C. Village, became overcrowded.

enty closed D.C. Village in 2007 amid complaints that it was infested with mice, roaches and other vermin unsuitable for children. His administration shifted families to D.C. General until a replacement could be found.

But the city never found one. During the winter months, almost 600 children were living in the former hospital.

“We have been in a nether world of not wanting to commit a lot of resources to the building and to the programs because we always saw this as a temporary solution,” Graham, chairman of the D.C. Council’s Human Services Committee, said at a recent hearing.