Yesterday’s tragedy makes it clear that the U.S. has been squandering its infrastructure legacy by turning a reckless blind eye to critical upgrades . . .
I don’t know about you, but I’ve suspected as much.
The plain fact is, an awful lot of our infrastructure is OLD, if not ancient, and in the back of our minds, we know it’s in trouble. How can we not, when the news keeps nudging us, tap tap tap, with little reminders?
So you have near-tragedies, like what happened here in Rochester last year when a parking garage ramp collapsed. You have mini-tragedies, like that steam pipe explosion in New York City last month. You have seasonal tragedies, like the short-circuiting electrical systems that are zapping dogs and pedestrians as we walk our streets.
The sad thing is, it took something of the scale of the Minnesota bridge collapse to wake people up.
What’s even sadder is that just because we’re awake doesn’t mean we’ll act like adults about it. I’ve already seen one comment in a thread about the bridge that blames Bush for it — the poster claims that had he not invaded Iraq, all that money we spent over there would have been used to repair bridges.
We need to wake up. There are two reasons nobody is taking care of our roads, and bridges, and underground pipes and electrical circuits.
The first is that we, the American people, aren’t taking responsibility for it. The best analogy is to compare it to owning an older home. You can’t just buy a house and figure the only think it will cost you is your mortgage payment. You’re going to have to budget for periodic repairs, and sometimes those repairs are going to cost a lot.
We should all be thinking that way about our national infrastructure. We should be looking at our roads, and bridges, and electrical grid, and thinking, “this is a huge and complicated and important thing, and it will naturally cost us billions in upkeep.”
We should recognize that THIS is a top, top priority at federal, state, and local levels — not subsidizing charity or designating National Pea Splitting Day or appointing special prosecuters because Senator Johnny called Senator Suzy a bad name in the hallway. Or building ugly performing arts centers that will continue to drain away our resources on non-essentials for generations to come.
The second reason we’re in the shape we are is that we have elected idiots to Congress. It’s Congress, not the President, who decides where to spend our money — OUR money — and what they do with it, if you haven’t been paying attention, is sneak it off, in complete secrecy, and give it to their friends and political supporters for totally bogus projects.
Argue if you want that our foreign policy is misguided, but right here at home, John Murtha has just grabbed 48 earmarks in the 2008 defense spending bill — totaling $150.5 million. Altogether, there are 1,337 earmarks in that bill — 3.07 billion dollar’s worth.
That’s our money. But don’t bother asking for an accounting of it — because as far as Congress is concerned, it’s THEIR money.
Meanwhile, according to the PM piece I linked above:
According to a report card released in 2005 by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 160,570 bridges, or just over one-quarter of the nation’s 590,750-bridge inventory, were rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
It’s time we made it clear to Congress that the state of our infrastructure is unacceptable — and that we want our tax money to be spent on things that really matter. The corruption and theft of our money has to end.
[tags] Minnesota bridge collapse, earmarks, pork [/tags]