Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Answer is Always - "State & Local"

(Photo courtesy of Allen Brisson-Smith for NYTimes, 8/02/07)

Echos of Hurricane Katrina
The sorry state of our roads, highways and bridges is apparent to anyone who travels the by-ways of this country. Yet the war in Iraq is projected to cost American taxpayers over one trillion dollars, that's trillion with a "t," or over a million million dollars - huh? More money than most of us can fathom, or even begin to comprehend. The bridge that collapsed yesterday in Minneapolis, Minnesota is symptomatic of a much greater malaise that has come to light in the wake of our ass-backwards, mixed-up priorities that find no trouble sending billions to another country (and then losing the money!), but has a hard time finding funds to support and repair our ailing infrastructure here at home. What happened yesterday in the Twin Cities should serve as a wake-up call to our government bureaucrats that it is past time to take a long hard look at how we are spending the taxpayers' hard-earned dimes. While we are spending huge amounts of money in Iraq, our bridges and roadways are rotting away beneath us. Anyone who has watched any of the coverage of the bridge collapse (unless, of course, you were watching it on the Faux News Channel), has learned that the Republican Governor of Minnesota recently vetoed a bill that would have pumped much needed money into the outdated roads and bridges in the state, but Governor Pawlenty didn't want to raise taxes by five cents a gallon on gasoline to finance much needed repairs and upgrades on Minnesota's highways and bridges. And what did George W. Bush have to say in the aftermath of this tragedy? Did he apologize for short-changing the states on much needed federal money, did he offer condolences to those families who still are not sure where their loved-ones are? NO, our fearful leader used the occasion of a tragic bridge collapse to poke at Congress for not passing his Iraq-funding bills. I am not making this up.

So the answer is always "state & local" government when the question is "who is responsible for this horrendous disaster?" The Democratic Governor of Louisiana (Kathleen Blanco) and the Mayor of New Orleans (Ray Nagin) were blamed for the disastrous response to the devastation that descended on the swamped city. There is never any responsibility taken by the federal government, never any acknowledgement that there might have been something that could have been done such as re-examining our national priorities. We need to begin by putting some of the billions of dollars that we are squandering in Iraq destroying that country, and start putting those resources into helping people here in this country. It's just a thought, but it is one that is occurring to many of us here in this nation and around the world. A thought that we should all contemplate as we drive over that crumbling freeway overpass or swerve to avoid that huge pothole. How long until our misguided spending ways catch up with all of us?

"There isn't any bigger metaphor for a society in trouble than a bridge falling, its concrete lanes pointing brokenly at the sky, its crumpled cars pointing down at the deep waters where people disappeared."
Nick Coleman, Star Tribune, August 2, 2007

Visit Rachel Maddow's web site to listen to her extensive coverage of the crumbling infrastructure across the country.

Check out this headline in Saturday's Tulsa World: Oklahoma has the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the nation.

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