肥胖症和基础设施 / Obesity and Infrastructure
据《财富》撰稿人Sheila Bair介绍，新美国基金会（New America Foundation）和其他很多组织都呼吁成立国家基础设施银行，在不增加长期赤字的前提下为重大基础设施提供资金保障。
Obesity and Infrastructure
I just returned from a trip to Canada, the U.S. and Mexico with fresh traveller's memories: passing through airports, immigration, customs and security, and the inflight experience.
About two years ago, my college roommate asked me to name the single biggest change I had noticed in America since moving to Asia nearly 40 years ago. I said that was an easy question. The answer was the dramatic growth in obesity. Not just the numbers, but the scale of extremely overweight adults and children.
Just recently, following years of debate, the American Medical Association formally defined obesity as a disease. Part of the debate was focused on the definition of obesity. There is controversy surrounding the current definition, which is based on Body Mass Index (BMI), because many large-boned but fit people are defined as obese under this system.
Apart from the stigma involved, there are huge implications with regard to health insurance coverage, premiums, etc.
The main driver behind the AMA's decision was to encourage physicians to pro-actively counsel their patients about the risks associated with obesity, such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, etc.
Apart from obsesity, I would now nominate a second category of dramatic change in America, which is the decline in quality of almost all aspects of the air travel experience. That includes the timeliness of service, service attitudes among airline as well as uniformed airport personnel, and the state of basic airport infrastructure.
I remember when air travel used to be fun and imbued with a spirit of excitement and adventure, just like it was portrayed in the airline and destination advertising of the day. Those are now very distant memories, like sepia toned photos in the museum archive.
America's tourist destinations and resorts are fortunate to be experiencing continued growth, despite the serious decline in the quality of the "getting there" experience.
In my early travels in China in the 1970s, infrastructure was awful and service attitudes even worse. It was a curse to arrive on an incoming international flight which landed before or during lunch hour, because nothing would interrupt the baggage handlers' or customs officers' lunch break and nap. You just had to wait.
Still, it was fairly relaxed. At Guangzhou's Baiyun Airport one Fall day, my luggage did not show up in the open-air, covered baggage shed. Worried, I asked one of the baggage handlers if I could borrow his bicycle, which was parked right there.
He said "fine", and I rode it across the runway to the jet I'd arrived on, explaining to the baggage handlers there that I was looking for my bag. They politely invited me up into the aircraft's cargo hold. My bag was not there. Satisfied, I bicycled back, and eventually placed a claim for the missing suitcase.
Now, China's airport infrastructure, almost all brand new, has leapfrogged America's. Baggage arrives promptly, and uniformed security personnel are at least routinely polite rather than gruff in carrying out their duties.
Given such new airports, it is unlikely you'll find yourself seated under a hole in the ceiling leaking big drops of water as I did in New York's JFK Airport last year.
On the other hand, departing flights from Beijing and Shanghai are frequently subject to unpredictable delays, which are usually not accompanied by reasonable advance notice or explanations. Is it due to air force exercises, a minister's chartered jet, a business jet, or a rainstorm in the destination city? Passengers are usually left to speculate.
Still, improved infrastructure is the foundation of progress. The World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. as 25th in infrastructure worldwide, behind all its major competitors. The challenge is far broader than air transport alone, extending to highways, bridges, water mains, etc.
According to Fortune contributor Sheila Bair, the New America Foundation is one of many voices arguing for creation of a National Infrastructure Bank, which could provide significant infrastructure financing without adding to the long-term deficit.
Let's hope sensible voices like these get heard and acted upon.
If so, it may be like the slight change in tide heralded by the AMA's new definition of obesity as a disease.
Outdated infrastructure causes significant losses in economic productivity, and some studies show that $1 billion in infrastructure investment can yield some 20,000 new jobs.