A great rant over at Orcinus
You almost never hear stories like this in the US. Almost every county and region in the country, and every state and government agency involved in land use and infrastructure, has a regional master plan on file somewhere. Planning commissions large and small are already working 20 years out, penciling in where the major roads will go, where the water will come from, where the houses and shopping centers will be, how many schools and firehouses and sewer plants they're going to need, and how they're going to finance it all. When's your road up to be re-paved again? Odds are that City Hall can tell you, up to 10 years out.
In short, everybody who knew how to do anything -- and especially those doing it in the interest of the people of the United States, rather than for the benefit of one or another corporate profiteer -- was gradually cut out of the process. Ridiculed and belittled as "the bureaucracy," these people had once been the eyes and ears of our common interest. For fifty years, they'd developed and maintained our visions of a future that included clean water and food, immunized kids and effective epidemic response, safe roads and buildings (and levees), good relationships with the world's other nations, and (in more recent years) responsible environmental stewardship. They monitored leading indicators, tended the engines of our prosperity, and looked ahead to the changes that would be required to keep America competitive.
And now they are gone.
Read the whole thing. It's an interesting take on a part of American culture that seems under attack by the American right wing.