Thursday, August 02, 2007

Look to Gov. Pawlenty

It is one of those coincidences that can destroy political careers. Exactly three months before the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed transportation spending bills that would have repaired infrastructure such as the I-35W bridge. The very same day that the bridge collapsed, Republicans in the state legislature sustained those vetoes.

It is just a coincidence, the bridge would have collapsed regardless of whether the bills passed or failed, were signed or vetoed. But, it will not go without notice that the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota wanted to fix the bridge while the Republicans went that extra mile to ensure the bridge would not be repaired or replaced.

There are six reasons a man-made structure like that bridge falls down:
1) Deliberate human attack (terrorists, Canadian air force bombing mission)
2) Act of God (earthquake, tornado, flood)
3) Unavoidable accident (such as a barge breaking loose its moorings and hitting the bridge)
4) Shoddy construction (at 40 years old, we can conclude the initial construction was sound)
5) Slipshod inspection
6) Knowingly avoiding needed repairs (The principle reason for not making repairs is a lack of money)

Initial reports point to number 6. There have been inspections that reported the bridge had stress fractures and it had been rated as "structurally deficient." What will be interesting is what the state, what the Governor's office, did with those inspection reports.

My best guess is the government made the conscious decision to retain a structurally deficient bridge rather than raise taxes. In the cold cost-benefit rational of government, the bridge would have to be replace when it collapsed anyway so replacing it earlier would be a waste of money. As for the risk to human life, that is a minor economic factor not worth considering.

TOTH to PissedonPolitics for leading me here.

Additional Nasty Bit of Kismet: The 2008 Republican National Convention will be held in the Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota. A short six miles away from the fallen I-35W bridge. Think anyone will notice?

1 comment:

PoliShifter said...

The problem with the Conservative Republican mantra is that they don't want to spend the money on repairs. They would rather let a private company, even a foreing company, figure out a way to do it for-profit.

When Republicans point to Government Waste, what they are saying is "there's money that could be making someone a profit".

So they go down this road of cutting taxes and rejecting infrastructure projects hoping that somewhere down the road the project will have to be financed and the gummint will turn to the private sector with a bond offer.

They gambled and this time the lost big.

We need to get back to the idea of The Commons, as Thom Hartmann would say, that certain things for the greater Public good should not be done for-profit.

We need safe roads, bridges, electricity, clean water, clean food, and safe work environments. Areas like these should be not-for-profit but for the betterment of society.