I can think of a lot of reasons a country might have this kind of problem:
A major Bronx water supply line burst this morning just before 6:30 a.m., flooding Jerome Avenue for several blocks near 177th Street, halting traffic, disrupting subway and bus service, and damaging two nearby gas mains. The water flow was capped by 9:20 a.m., officials said. Speaking at a news conference, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said it was not clear why the pipe, which was installed in 1903, had burst. “It has been doing yeoman’s work, but unfortunately, after 108 years, it’s not,” he said.
What’s difficult to think is a good reason for the United States of America to have this problem. The United States can current sell five year bonds at a negative real interest rate. The United States has plenty of unemployed construction workers. Are we suffering from a metal shortage of some kind that makes it impossible to take advantage of cheap lending to hire construction workers to fix broken pipes? If so, I haven’t heard about it. Instead, we seem to be suffering from a shortage of effective political leadership. Not coincidentally, we’re talking about a rich, low-tax country that’s also the world’s military hegemon losing its AAA-rated bond status. Interesting times.