I came across the following post on X a couple days ago talking about how US debt comes from spending on war while Chinese debt is from spending on infrastructure:

I don't think even educated Americans understand how much better Chinese infrastructure is than American infrastructure. There are of course the headline shiny bridges, high speed trains, a new highway network bigger than the US interstate system. Everyone knows about those. But even the relatively simple things like the electrical grid are orders of magnitude better in China.

I grew up in a well-off suburb east of Cleveland, Ohio in the 80s and 90s. It's a place that looks sort of rural but in reality is a 10 minute drive from an Apple Store and Costco. Power outages were a regular feature of life. At one point in the dead of winter, our electricity went off for over a week. Snow or something. We ran a kerosene heater indoors to keep the pipes from freezing and didn't have running water because there electricity to pump it out of the well.

After this experience, my parents bought one of those automatic backup standby generators that can power the whole house. And boy did we use the heck out of it. Electrical power would go out a couple times a year. Usually it would only be out for a few hours, but there were days long outages every other year or so. And of course there was the infamous Northeast blackout of 2003 of which Ohio was apparently responsible.

My parents have since moved to Florida and despite living halfway around the world in Hong Kong, I talk to them several times a week. One frequent topic of conversation is power outages. There are, of course, the hurricane and weather-related ones. But also for a year or so their development was experiencing regular power outages in perfect weather every week or two and no one seemed to know why. How is that possible and how can it go on for so long?

I lived primarily in Guangzhou, China for about 5 years from 2007. I also previously lived in Beijing for about half a year in 2003. During that time, the number of times I encountered a power outage was exactly one. It was in Guangzhou and it was announced two weeks in advance to me via a flyer that China Southern Power Grid left in front of my door.

In case you're thinking, "that's just because mainland China's power grid is new and not old," Since then, for the past decade or so I've lived in Hong Kong and I've only experienced one brief power outage roughly 5 years ago. Our electricity provider, has been providing power to Hong Kong since 1887 and has been able to maintain an average of less than 1 minute of unplanned customer outage per year since 2009. I believe it.

There's just really no reason in a developed country to have the sort of basic electrical infrastructure problems I thought were normal growing up in the USA. At least not for people living in populated suburban and urban areas where my family always lived. I'm not really sure what the problem was or is. The money was there and still is. Sure, a lot of it is just being wasted on wars in far away lands that are never won. But perhaps it's just a problem of low expectations? A culture that seems happy with its public utilities not being very good at the utility part?