Thu Aug 9th, 2007 at 05:39:28 AM EST
Not surprisingly, the word of a large bridge (8 lanes, 150,000+ vehicles a day) collapsing in Minneapolis has spread around the globe. And for good reason. Forty-year-old bridges are NOT supposed to fail.
I supposed I could have written this sooner. But quite frankly, I am embarrassed as hell. This is NOT the sort of reputation we want. This state is a creation of mostly Scandinavians and Germans--the kind of people who treat maintenance as an art form.
I am part of this near-religious cult of maintenance. I have restored old buildings. I have kept a car running far past its normal life.
From the diaries - afew
I walked across that bridge before it opened as a university freshman and rowed under it as a member of the school crew. I have seen that bridge from a lot of different angles.
I took this personally. And I am pissed off!! In the last legislative session, my party, the DFL, passed two bills to address the huge hole in infrastructure maintenance that has accumulated over the past years. First they passed a bill with a $.10 tax on gasoline with $8 billion for repairs. The Republican Governor vetoed it. So the DFL went back and passed a $4 billion package and a $.05 tax.
This time the governor not only vetoed it, but asked of the DFL at the press conference "are you stupid?" Apparently, we are "stupid" because we cannot grasp just how wedded this poor fool is to his neoliberal / con ideals, that he is willing to stand in the way of road repairs to keep his "no new taxes" pledge.
Governor Pawlenty is talked about as a possible next VP candidate. The 2008 Republican convention is supposed to be held in St. Paul. And Pawlenty was right, we really did NOT understand how criminally irresponsible someone would be in order to be blessed by the right-wing fools who rule the Republican Party.
I wrote a book in the late 1980s on the theme that since our infrastructure needed upgrading and replacing, this was the perfect opportunity to make our infrastructure environmentally responsible. I called it Elegant Technology.
Later, I would create a short video outlining this strategy. I called it Creating Prosperity. I have been shouting about this issue in every way I can.
Even so, I still wonder if I could have done more. The realistic answer is no. The economic madness of neoliberalism has done nearly catastrophic damage to EVERYTHING--manufacturing base, agriculture, medicine, education, the environment, etc.--not merely to the works of civil engineering. This economic madness has infected the universities and the editorial policies of virtually the whole of the Anglo Saxon world so it wasn't exactly a fair fight.
I was nearly this angry when failure of levee maintenance wiped out New Orleans. But I told myself--that was Louisiana--corruption and shoddy workmanship are what they do. We are in the top five states for maintenance. It will happen last to us.
Wake up world! The days of listening to economic fools is over! If there is EVER an economic philosophy that precludes industrial maintenance, then such ideas are indeed insane.