Why Bad Roads Are Good for Us, Part 1: A great cultural unifier?

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Why Bad Roads Are Good for Us
A road crumbling in Monroe County Michigan

A crumbling road in Monroe County in southeast Michigan. Photo by Megan Walther.

Voters across Michigan just went to the polls last week—and nuked a statewide ballot issue called Proposal 1, rejecting an increase in the sales tax (and numerous other changes) that would have raised funds to fix roads.

Proposal 1 was detested equally across the state—from the most Democratic to the most Republican counties, from counties with the worst roads to those with, well, the least-worst roads.

Could this overwhelming consensus tell us something about why bad roads are good for us? It’s a psychological truism that, if we continually complain about something in our lives and repeatedly fail to do anything about it, then it must be serving some psychological function.

Proposal 1 was a convoluted ballot proposal that alienated voters and probably should have been rejected on those grounds alone. But it’s also true that, while we complain about the roads, we don’t apply enough pressure to get our legislators to do something about it.

Bad roads, like bad weather, are universal topics of conversation in Michigan. We are united by our common complaints. Complaints about bad roads cut across demographic, religious, and political lines. We all experience poor roads and we are universally empathetic to our fellow drivers who slam into pot holes, rattle down washboards roads, or narrowly evade the newest road collapse that looks like a tank trap.

In short, bad roads are a great cultural unifier. Bad roads are good for us because they unite us and transcend our differences.

The State of Michigan ranks last of all the states in per capita road spending.

Perhaps we should invert this ranking and say that we are exhibit Number 1 in why bad roads are good for you?

Do you complain about bad roads?
Do you empathize with fellow drivers?
Are bad roads good for us?
Join us all week as we discuss the 5 reasons why bad roads are good for us!

Got a photo of a pothole or damaged roadway that you’d like others to see? Email it to us at [email protected]

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