Every so often, we end up in the middle of a big frenzy about infrastructure in this country. The conversation usually ends up drifting back to roads and bridges, because that's what everybody sees and it's really easy for politicians to take credit for them.
But infrastructure goes way beyond just roads and bridges, and includes a lot of things we rarely or never see -- even though they're critical. Levees, dams and locks, the electrical grid, water and sewer systems, and airports and rail lines are all integral parts of what makes the economy go.
Two separate airport incidents happened this week of heavy holiday travel -- a fire at Atlanta Hartsfield and a smoke-related evacuation at Dallas Love Field -- both highlighting just how sensitive our finely-tuned modern economy is. Small disruptions to very specific systems ended up having effects on the entire national transportation system.
There was another incident at an airport this week, too -- when concession workers at O'Hare went on a very short strike. And what that story tells us is that infrastructure isn't just about steel and concrete. It depends on people, too. As our economy becomes ever more sophisticated, it will become ever more sensitive to breakdowns -- of machines and people alike.
Listen to the conversation from the latest episode of the show: