Posted by: As I See It by Arnie | August 4, 2007

The Bridge Collapse, a Wake Up Call?

We all love the new and improved, the latest, the best, and the greatest. When Apple came out with the brand new IPhone the last of June, in many places there was hysteria and long waits as the gottahaveit’s camped out in front of these stores overnight to be the 1st, or 2nd, or 12th, or 50th to purchase the dang gone thing. Couldn’t wait till next week. Had to put out the $500 to have the newest. Well, there really is nothing wrong with that if you have the cash available and the kids won’t go hungry, or whatever, hey, go for it. I’m not one wanting to spoil your upgrade ability.

But, we have become that kind of a society. Tide comes out with a new and improved formula for the older Tide that has been on the market for less than a year or so, and the words “New and Improved” are splashed over the box, across the TV commercials and a TV consumer advisor journalist gets 2 minutes of air time to showcase the new features. Cars come out with a new technology now available to the general public, like GPS systems, and the public goes bananas planning for the next vehicle purchase.

Gotta have it….Now. HG TV has a new series out called “I want that.” On the web site you’ll find the different categories of choice for the latest and newest and the best for your kitchen, the bath, and the most advanced tech toys now available to consumers. This obsession is everywhere and politics is no exception.

Just a few hours after the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, people were wanting answers as to how the State or the Feds could have let the bridge deteriorate for so long and neglect the basics of maintaining the structure. Now, we want answers. People have died, Many have been injured and now millions will be inconvenienced for a long time by the detours they will have to take to get to work and/or offices to carry on the daily lives. But politics is boring when the promises a candidate makes is only about maintaining what is already in use, to keep fixing and repairing the infrastructure now available.

That person would get nowhere.

Politics and government is also about the newest and the best and the latest. How many times has there been a war on poverty? How many times have the feds promised to end corruption in Washington? With every election, the candidates promise a new way of doing things, to change the climate of corruption, to bring the agencies into the 21st century with new equipment, technology and on and on and on.

Here in the Tulsa area, the Mayor Kathy Taylor has come up with some revolutionary new projects she thinks would benefit the city and surrounding areas. A few years ago, the citizens of the county was presented with “Vision 2025”, a compilation of projects benefiting Tulsa and the suburbs to be paid for with an additional sales tax.    The big item on the list was the BOK Center, a brand new state of the art arena and convention center located just about in the heart of downtown. It was supposed to be paid for totally out of the new sales taxes collected.   Well, low and behold, the projected cost submitted was too low, so new funds have to be found to pay the differences.

Now where do you think these new funds are coming from? Basic maintenance items around the city, like the repairs and maintenance of the streets, the utilities and the parks and recreational facilities. She wants to out source the golf courses as it does not make a profit and actually costs the government to keep it open.  Back up just a minute. It actually costs the citizens to keep it open.   Remember, taxes pay for government.   These infrastructure items are the basic things the government should handle without a lot of inquiries from the public. Right? Expected to be taken care of before anything else is proposed right?   Nope, that’s not very interesting.   Does not get a lot of attention.   Does not make many news programs that “your city repaired 385 pot holes today.”   “We take you live to the near side swimming pool and are talking with the head maintenance guy. ”  “What do you do on a regular basis to keep this pool beautiful and swimmer friendly?”   Not very exciting news when a brand new iPhone comes out on the market replacing the older ePhone.   New revolutionary features every savy person should have.

I would suspect that of the hundreds of thousands of bridges across the county, there are many more that need to be closed and repaired. Quickly. But what will we get out of Washington and out of our States? A new and improved program to set up a new agency with the responsibility to inspect the bridges and report back to the various Department of Transportation’s. Now, I’ve got nothing against the new technologies if they are an improvement and will last longer than what was there. Go for it. But what happened in Minneapolis is symptomatic of our obsession with the newest and greatest. Gotta have it. I want that. Out with the old in with the new. Thinking that if it ain’t broken don’t worry about it. But you still have to put oil in your engine on a regular basis, and it’s not broken. Maintenance first.

We should demand that the basics of maintaining the infrastructure be taken care of first and foremost before anything else is proposed. Immigration has been neglected for a long time and it’s bridge collapsed. And now, a new and improved plan is proposed to handle the mess created by not maintaining the first and foremost.

This is a wake up call. Get back to the basics.

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