Somewhere I saw a quip about all roads running downhill. It is worth elaborating into a proposal for America’s crumbling infrastructure. We should rebuild our roads and bridges to run downhill — in both directions.

Although the earth’s surface is marked by hills and valleys, it is a sphere in the big picture, possibly allowing a downslope on balance. If America could harness the atom and put a man on the moon, we should be able to harness gravity to move our cars and trucks.

This program would dramatically increase gasoline mileage, guaranteeing our energy independence. It would reduce carbon emissions and stop the menace of global warming. It would make nationwide highway travel and transport faster and cheaper than ever. The very scale of the program, together with decisive benefits still to be mentioned, will create new prospects of national purpose and greatness, which to many citizens will be worth some sacrifice of their own narrow interests.

Rebuilding roads and bridges to slope downwards will be expensive, but that itself is an advantage. The great increase in federal spending (the rich paying their fair share) will stimulate the economy through multiplier effects and create jobs. More directly, very many scientists, engineers, and lawyers will be employed, at high salaries, to work out the program’s scientific, technical, and environmental details (such as the conservation of energy). Universities will find more grants and consulting work available for professors and more fellowships for graduate students. Many executives and bureaucrats will administer the program, and workers in many specialties will do the actual construction.

That is the clinching argument: jobs!

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Tricky Dick Nixon would approve. He was so concerned about the oil embargo and the damage it would cause the US economy. Now, the problem's solved ... at long last. Bless your sweet little heart!

Bob Straub

Too bad Visitor blew it by asking.

I was going to observe that the gradual curve of Earth's surface would make for slow acceleration. I was going to suggest that every country, state, county, city, and town be placed on its own cone, thereby creating many steeper slopes. Bonus: It would be a beautiful, fractal landscape, like Romanesco Broccoli (q.v.). Each cone would have a perpetual motion machine to get vehicles back to the top.


Are you making some kind of joke that government can violate the law against perpetual motion?

Scott Robinson

Dear Visitor,

If we can't have perpetual motion, then how do we orbit the sun for about 6 million years? Being the nerd, it is gravity that causes the planets to orbit the sun. The reason we don't fall into the sun is that we are also moving quickly in a lateral direction, so that when we fall (longitudinally) all the distance to the sun, we have moved laterally far enough that we are just alongside the sun. It is the beauty of balance.

Making the joke funny to me is that we're just running around in circles (orbiting). Less the nerd, more the critic, the government really has such delusions of grandeur.

Hee Hee,

Wayland Hunter

Yes, it's a joke. A delightful joke. About all sorts of things. The
kind of joke that's hard to absorb all at once. A classic.

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