Thursday, August 2, 2007

Real Cause of 35W Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis

Tax cut obsession is the underlying cause of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, as well as the massive and pervasive trouble with much of America's aging infrastructure. That same obsession could also be called the mother of all political sell-outs. Tax cuts are popular in both political parties. Tax cuts are effective; tax cuts get votes and win elections. However, those tax-cutting politicians never tell you about the real costs of all those popular tax cuts.

Our public schools, roads, bridges, water and sewer systems - all the infrastructure we take for granted everyday - are old and aging across the country and yet we get more talk of tax cuts. When will we learn that there's no free lunch! Unfortunately, we cannot count on our elected officials to have the vision and courage to step up and do what's necessary. Their vision extends only as far as their next election and the ear-marked, ribbon-cutting pork projects necessary to win it.

Instead of pork-built bridges to nowhere, we need to fix the bridges we have. But to invest in the unnoticeable and far less glamorous work of maintaining and repairing the infrastructure that drives our way of life, elected officials will have to raise taxes and risk losing their next elections.

Only government repairs bridges. The estimate of overdue work on our infrastructure is three trillion dollars! How can government - state or federal - hope to repair our bridges or the rest of our aging infrastructure when all we hear is no new taxes, no tax increases or promises of hefty new tax cuts?

The 35W bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis was deemed to have significant deficiencies in a 2005 inspection. It's two years later, yet no major structural repair or replacement has even been scheduled. We need to understand the bottom line behind the tax-cutting, anti-government rhetoric. There are some things only government can do.