Sunday, August 5, 2007

AMERICAN BRIDGES FALLING DOWN

When I was a boy (the 1940s and '50s) the USA was the marvel of the world, not just for winning the war, but for the Marshall Plan, which included money to help the war torn nations of Europe rebuild their infrastructure. We helped Japan too.

Meanwhile, at home, the USA was becoming a shining example of how a country could improve the lives of its citizens, as well as create the basis for a booming economy that benefited everyone, not just the wealthy.

Part of what made the USA such a shining example in those years (in many other ways it was a lousy example, i.e. racial prejudice, but these were the years when that began to be seriously challenged by the few that by the ‘60s became the many) was its amazingly new and well maintained infrastructure.

By the 1970s and ‘80s, that was no longer the case as things began to deteriorate.

And now, forget about it.

Ireland, which when I was a boy was still pretty much the way it had been for centuries—impoverished and without almost any infrastructure—is now generations ahead of us in that regard, which is a large part of the reason why Ireland has one of the most successful economies in the world.

That these two countries have exchanged places, in terms of infrastructure, would have been unthinkable when I was a kid. But nonetheless, it’s mostly true.

Not to oversimplify, but highways and bridges and tunnels and phone and electricity lines, etc. are to a country what the bones and muscles and nervous and circulatory systems etc. are to the human body.

The USA is like an aging human ignoring her health, and instead of using what money she has on doctors and medications and procedures to keep her alive and healthy, instead she spends it all on lawn flamingos and kitchen gadgets and gives the rest to the wealthy few who already have access to the best doctors and hospitals, and in the case of infrastructure, rarely travel in anything other than their private jets and helicopters.

I wonder if the Secret Service has a list of the most dangerous bridges and tunnels etc. that they avoid whenever Cheney emerges from his cave to address his faithful.

Any true “conservative” would be a staunch supporter of “conserving” not only the environment—including our native plants and trees and animals etc., and all our natural resources, as well as in discovering new sources of energy etc.—but also in maintaining and improving our infrastructure, the engineering marvels that once made us the model for most nation’s futures, but now too often seem to be just crumbling monuments to a past that is quickly becoming the history of a nation’s decline.

2 comments:

Another Lally said...

If you can lose the Socialist mentality from your writings, you would see that the "Conservative" ethic is what built and established the same quality of maintenance and concern that you are longing for.

In your youth you would either have gone to a city hospital or clinic for the majority of your health care needs. The privately financed hospitals were for the most part for those who could afford them. Why are there fewer and fewer city hospials with each passing year? Is this the federal government cutting back or is this the local governments ?

Our interstate highway system was designed and built by the federal government and then turned over to the states so that the states would maintain the roads and bridges. It is again the failure of state and local government that allows the infrastructure to fall into disrepair.

The problem may very well be that the new wealthy are the problem. In the past, the wealthy and other Conservative groups and fraternities organized, built and maintained services for the poor and built structures that would last forever with reasonable maintenance. Look at the Brooklyn Bridge as an example along with the many other eighteenth century bridges.

It is in reality good state and local government that you are yearning for.

There are other reasons to disagree with the federal officials and their actions, but condemning them for the failures of state and local government just serves to cloud what is actually their responsibilities. Blaming the president because my toaster broke or because my garbage wasn't collected or because my local city hospital is being closed in favor of a new region serving mega-medical center complicates the real issues that we may have with the president or other federal officials.

As we have found in the past and with "No Child Left Behind" when the federal government is handing out monies, there are always conditions that are required to be met to be eligible for that money.

We should always be careful when inviting Big Brother into our lives on a daily basis.

g3 said...

michael d lally-i know you have email and probably a phone number-this is gene harris from donaldson afb, under the washingtion monument harvard square/charles street meeting house, and the khoutek carving tying to get in retouch. i'm in st louis for a little while longer but would like to her from you in some form or fashion. my phone is 314-521-2129. leave a message. i remember bambi and max roach on a weekend in the village......