Matthew Yglesias on how societies stock up for the future:
A lot of the stuff we make has a pretty short shelf-life. Computer software gets obsolete super fast. Clothing wears out. Food spoils (even Twinkies). Durable goods like cars last longer. Airplanes last even longer. But the real durability is in structures. Houses, office buildings, bridges, tunnels, factories, train tracks. As a society, we save for the future by channeling resources—steel, elecricity, human labor power—into the production of things that last a long time rather than things that are more perishable.
This is a point the federal government does not seem to really understand.
I would take issue with his point about software, though. Yes, most software does not last very long, but as we build software, we also build a corpus of knowledge about how to build software more efficiently, and to create more powerful computers to run that software. I would argue that the software industry has created massive social value over the course of its existence.