Friday, August 3, 2007

The Blame Game

It’s been about 36 hours since the collapse of the 35W bridge in Minneapolis and we’ve reached the funnest part of the modern American disaster cycle: the finger pointing stage.

Yes kids it’s time to dive into that truly awesome new American sport: the blame game! Pick a side and play!

On the right we have racist James Buchanan, who blames minorities and liberal political correctness:
One picture of the bridge shows massive rust on the I-beams making up the arch support. It seems the liberals running Minnesota were too busy providing welfare for the Blacks in Minneapolis and the huge Hmong population. Spending taxpayer money on basic bridge maintenance apparently didn’t make the top ten list for the liberals mismanaging Minnesota.
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Giving building contracts to minority-owned businesses has become commonplace for our government. Trusting an important civil engineering structure to a company which was chosen on the basis of a racial set-aisde can be a disaster waiting to happen.

Yes when anything bad happens, it’s always convenient to blame the people with the least amount of power, blacks and other minorities.

Anyone want to guess how long before Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson jump on the bandwagon and blame gays and abortion? Hey, after Michael Savage blamed Democrats for John Roberts’ seizure this week, I wouldn’t be surprised.

On the left side of the aisle we have Digby, whom I happen to think is the brightest liberal blogger on the internet. However, I also happen to think she’s wrong when she blames years of Republican fiscal conservatism:

Again, you cannot look at something like this and not wonder if the years and years of infrastructure neglect at the hands of GOP propagandists who have been starving government for decades now is finally coming back to haunt us.

Plenty of people on the left have also wondered if we’d have more money for infrastructure were we not spending billions in Iraq. It’s a fair question: “make levees, not war” has been my mantra since Hurricane Katrina.

But Congress has passed huge highway infrastructure bills every year. The problem with our infrastructure is not lack of funds, it’s simple greed and childish irresponsibility. Am I the only one remembering the pork-laden $286 billion transportation bill of 2005?

We’re a wealthy nation. We’ve got all the funds we need to repair bridges and roadways. Instead, we choose to spend the money on feel-good, ego-enhancing projects like new baseball stadiums.

Here in Nashville, Chamber of Commerce types have been trying to ram a new convention center and a new baseball stadium down our throats, uprooting low income families in the process. These kinds of showpiece projects are favorites of the economic development folks, who love to say these kinds of things will broaden our tax base and “trickle down” to prosperity for all. But Nashville isn’t a hick town lacking in entertainment amenities; we already have a baseball stadium and a convention center. We have an arena and a football stadium. We have museums and auditoriums and a symphony hall.

These are all nice things that make living in Nashville so wonderful. But it’s time to get down to business and focus on people, not money. It's time to set some sensible priorities.

We need housing for the homeless. We need healthcare for our low income families. We need to work on our sewage treatment plant. We need to give inner city kids something to do in the summer so they will quit setting dogs on fire.

While we’re at it, let’s finally fix the Wolf Creek dam so we don’t get washed away after the next heavy rain.

Blaming liberals or conservatives for these disasters is just stupid. We all bear the blame for behaving like children who want to eat ice cream instead of vegetables. And trying to score political points when disaster strikes only makes the problem worse, not better.

Grow up, America. Fix your bridges, roads and dams.