Minneapolis’ Bridge Of Reality And America’s Wake Up Call
I have never felt comfortable flying. It’s not that I feel flying is unsafe. My discomfort is based on not trusting the mechanics to properly maintain airplanes, or builders to properly construct them without fundamental flaws. Airplanes in the United States can be kept in active use for twenty five years or more. Are the proper stress tests being performed by competent mechanics, using up to date machinery?
New York City has underground pipes that are more than a century old. The subway system was completed in the very early part of the Twentieth Century. The water supply and sewer systems have not met with the increasing demands of the Tri-State area.
In the South West, the need for water is putting enhanced demands on the Colorado river. Not enough attention is being paid to finding the resources that increased growth brings. Inspections of both foreign and domestic food is not being performed adequately or as often as it should. That’s why we are being told to cook meat, chicken and fish thoroughly.
Health Care in this country is not about prevention. Who goes to the doctor anymore for an annual check-up? Most visits to a physician are when there is an acute problem or a chronic illness that requires management. For those who can’t afford doctors, it’s the ER.
What happened with the bridge in Minneapolis is a symptom of a disease that is occurring as we speak and becoming endemic over the United States in many areas: Neglect of the infra-structure – an illustration that preventative measures do not seem to exist in the consciousness of this country until something happens. Imagine if this occurred to the George Washington Bridge? It’s a big drop to the Hudson River below. Every time I go over the Queensboro bridge at 59th street, I feel the vibrations. The Brooklyn bridge was built in 1869. Is the unthinkable possible?
Republican philosophy would take the position that the best way to handle all these questions is to throw it into the arms of the private sector by encouraging them to compete within their respective expertise, thus magically lowering costs and improve services through a competitive advantage, hence the HMO concept. According to Republicans, all the Government should do is to oversee all this “stuff” and step in only when mismanagement becomes an issue or when it threatens the public.
The problem with this Republican thought is that it’s grossly over simplistic and takes no account of personal and corporate greed that is at the heart of all the incompetence in regulatory agencies. Add to the fact that any decrease in budgets force them to prioritize goals. We hear this all the time at Senate and Congressional hearings when failures in the system become obvious.
Corporations are about cutting costs while maximizing profits. They are not accountable to the American Public or even the government. Their allegiance is to their investors and stockholders who hold them accountable for decreased revenues. The answers to Health Care or any of the above issues, which come from the same source, will never result from privatization alone. This is the basic flaw with most Republican thinking. That is not to say that the Democrats are any better.
The answer is not solely in the government. There has to be debates in every field: medicine, epidemiology, urban and rural architecture, bridge and road construction, aviation building and maintenance, in order to envision new ways of dealing with the challenges brought on by an increasing failure of the infra-structure in every field while reflecting an ecological philosophy that recognizes the limitations of natural resources and respect for the planet.