Thursday, August 02, 2007

Get Those Kids Off My Bridges!


I confess (since some folk have already read it) that I posted a LITE comment on the Minnesota bridge collapse. Humor in tragedy is one of my hallmarks.

However, this being a hot and humid day, I did the very unusual for me, watched the news. It clarified that folk don't have their heads on straight on U.S. and Massachusetts infrastructure. There are issues of progressive politics for taxes and governmental responsibility.

First the news...
  • Of course, provincialism dominated local news and even blogs. Lawsy, how are our bridges? To heck with that, how safe are the three bridges I drive over regularly? Oh, Gov. Deval Patrick says only 12% of our bridges fail and the nationwide average is 14%. We're fine. Turn off panic.
  • The NTSB guy says he'll use computer modeling software and lots of interviews, even asking the Coast Guard whether any boats slammed that Minneapolis one. We'll get to the bottom of this and folk can check similar bridges so this never again happens anywhere.
Let's get real, boys and girls. Here we have the same confluence of factors that has congregated for several decades. We have ignored those big old sturdy-looking things like highways and bridges. I mean, what's the odds of disaster? Plus, if you fix them, that means expenses and maybe higher taxes. Didn't the governor and legislators promise to keep taxes low?

Since Mike Dukakis rode his tank out of town, a plague of Republican executives and DINO lawmakers have irresponsibly deferred the bills for maintaining our infrastructure. Bill Weld pretended that anything bad was the legislature's fault. Then Romney talked and did nothing.

When Patrick took over, his candid staff estimated that the procrastination now amounts to $14 billion to $20 billion dollars. That's a clever way to keep taxes low — pretend that there's no need to do silly things like keep bridges and highways repaired and safe.

Even in a state with a moderate to low tax rate, the voters scream to further lower their taxes and in many places defeat overrides for education, infrastructure and other essentials. Well, those bills will come due. We can pay them at their lower rates when the problems are obvious or delay and delay as we have and pay a much higher rate later.

You want safe bridges, don't be an ass. Pay for them. Do it now before it becomes hugely expensive or people die. It's good politics. It's also common sense.

Our part-time and now ex-governor Willard Romney promised coming in to "fix it first" on infrastructure. He served on Presidential bodies studying transportation. He even made yesterday's bridge collapse a campaign issue, despite his abject failure to maintain our state's roads and bridges, choosing low taxes over the public good.

People without kids, who don't want to pay for public education, as people who don't own cars, who don't want to pay for roads most use, need to move to their own private islands. There they can have an á la carte government, pay as you go. Here, we have commonwealth. Let's get this act together.

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1 comment:

margalit said...

Brilliant. It is amazing to me that people still howl about high taxes after Katrina and the continual failure of this country's infrastructure. Do they think this stuff like roads and bridges,grow on trees?

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