While trying to make my obliques rockhard today at the gym, I watched a little bit of that bastion of journalistic integrity, The Fox News Network. They were reporting on the political side of the Minneapolis bridge collapse. The angle being pursued was to blame politicians for not directing more money towards infrastructure upkeep and instead focussing on new projects, for which they both garner credit in their home districts or states and, if they have the political acumen of Robert Byrd, can also name after themselves. If you've never had the pleasure of traveling through West Virginia--and it is truly one of the densest collections of natural beauty there is--you've also never had the pleasure of listing all of the things dear Senator Byrd has named after him. Of course, there is little glory in appropriating more money for upkeep, so it often goes by the wayside.
I heartily agree with Fox's analysis--and I just threw up a little. Having spent more than a decade on university campuses, I have watched as blackboards cannot be replaced, as classrooms and offices are taken away, even as another Dr and Mrs Hiram P Lucre Center for the Study of MIcronesian Opera at the Mary X O'Coin Institute of Rather Irrelevant Matters in the F J Mercantile Building. No one ever wants to give money for mundane matters and everyone likes to see his name on a wall or stationery or a building. That's human nature, I suppose.
But Fox misses the irony that for 6.5 years we have had an administration beholden to the "starve the beast" mentality of cutting taxes, even during a time of war--for while it is perfectly reasonable to ask soldiers to sacrifice their lives for us it is too much to ask taxpayers to pay for a war as it is fought, much better to put it on credit to be paid for by the next generation--and only instituting policies as unfunded mandates to be paid for by the states, as they themselves are pushed to cut taxes by the same political pundits who have cut them at the federal level. Levies fail and bridges break--by some reports as many as 25% of the highway bridges in the US are in serious need of repair--when there's no money to fix them. And there's no money to fix them when our government wants to make sure that the citizens (or some of them) get to keep as much of their money as possible. When you starve the beast, sometimes it won't do the work you wanted it for.
For now, we should pray for those lost in Minneapolis and their families and friends. And, we should work for a wiser electorate and government that at least realizes the costs of cutting the government in all its functions.