Friday, August 03, 2007

America's Falling apart...and For Sale

There can be no doubt that America is falling apart.

Witness what happened in the last few days in Minneapolis with collapse of a major bridge and a still rising death toll. It should be no surprise. The American Society of Civil Engineers warned in a report two years ago that between 2000 and 2003, more than 27 per cent of the nation's almost 600,000 bridges were rated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. But that's not the only indication of an aging infrastructure. Consider the following:
  • An underground steam pipe explosion in NYC on July 18th. "There is no reason to believe whatsoever that this is anything other than a failure of our infrastructure," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference at the scene of the blast.
  • The New York blackout of 2003. a massive collapse of electrical service over 240,o00 square kilometers of the US and Canada.
  • Two years ago we saw the virtual destruction of a major American city, New Orleans, in Hurricane Katrina, and still remains as a monument to our inability to respond.
  • The state of our roads, once the pride of world in post-war America, now crumbling, our transportation systems, including airlines and airports, our nation teetering under a crush of commuter traffic.
  • Drinking water, the food supply, the air we breathe....

The irony here is that Minnesota Twins have postponed its groundbreaking for a new stadium -- being built with public dollars. According to Minnesota Public Radio, "...Twins owner Carl Pohlad will pay $130 million towards the stadium. But the plan also requires a Hennepin County sales tax of .15 percent. The tax finances the remaining three quarters of the ballpark's $522 million cost."

Maybe it's that infrastructure just isn't sexy. Who cares about bridges and roads and sewers. Ballparks are fun, power lines are dull.

But the fact is that these dull things are the things that we all rely on. And, if we keep up with this idiotic idea that tax cuts are always good, we're going to watch it all crumble around us. You've got to pay for this stuff and, at both the states and federal levels, we're not. You can't run a nation the size of the US on the cheap. Like everything else in the world, you get what you pay for. And if you pay jack, you get jack.

And you can't blame the government....we are the government, even when we forfeit our responsibility. You get what you pay every way.

Maybe we should just have a garage sale......

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Gary, your recent blog illustrates what I call our ‘Romantic Economics’. In the seventies I worked with two mission agencies in my denomination that helped to raise finances for relief work in Africa. There was massive famine occurring at the time in Somalia, and enormous migrations of refugees. One large refugee camp was chosen to simply be converted to a new city-- the people would not go back home but simply stay where they were. Repatriation was impossible. At the time films were made and distributed to TV stations showing starving children with fly bitten faces and bulging bellies—and the donations poured in. Everyone had hope. As the situation stabilized the need to build infrastructure arose; sewers, water sources, roads…. The films showing these desperate needs were distributed… and donations died away. The situation started to relapse into massive starvation. Missions decided to start re-showing old films that were ‘effective’-- even though they represented a previous condition-- but were then accused of misrepresenting their needs to the public!! Not good for a church based organization, but what do you do? We live in ivory towers.

In a similar vein I noticed this morning that the Secretary of Transportation announced from her plane, flying to Minnesota, that our highways were ‘safe’. Bush also stated that even though the bridge rebuilding estimates were as high as 550 million, the 250 million Congress was prepared to pay would be ‘sufficient’! (We do live in interesting times don’t we?)

We don’t get it. Could an Integral framework be used to more adequately portray/convey these types of needs to the public?