Not an act of God

The bridge collapse in Minneapolis was not an act of God. It was the inaction of Man.

From the Star Tribune:

More than a year before the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed, a consulting firm advised the state of Minnesota that the aging bridge should be reinforced with steel plating.

Instead of following that advice, state officials asked the firm to come up with other options.

Six months later, the URS Corp. did just that.

It repeated its recommendation for steel plates, but offered an alternative described as “most cost efficient”…

I just heard Tim Pawlenty on the radio talking about how he will do whatever it takes. Does that include raising taxes, Tim? Do you think we would have fixed that bridge if money wasn’t an issue? Do you think you can whittle away government funding year after year, always drive every decision by the bottom line and complain, complain, complain about how the worst possible place for a dollar to go is the government and still look us in the eye and say you did whatever it took to prevent this?

It’s not as easy as blaming the governor. I know that. Still, the Republican notion that taxes are bad and that Democrats are picking people’s pockets when they raise spending leads to institutionalized failure. Under the Conservative philosophy, resources will always be a problem.

We put Pawlenty in charge of the system and the system allowed this to happen. We need the opposite philosophy from our governor. We’ll do the right thing first and worry about cash, check or charge later.

Don’t tell me I’m “politicizing” the issue. This is politics. Who makes decisions that affect public safety is a political issue. How they do it and with what funding is a political issue.

Yes, I know, you can’t ignore financial realities. But you can put your pocket book where you mouth is. You want good things? Reliable things? Pay for them.

Not an act of God

22 thoughts on “Not an act of God

  1. micadelic says:

    I don’t think what you want is higher taxes, per se, I think what you want is higher tax receitps. There is a story out today that federal tax receipts are at the highest level ever, up 7% over last year to 2.1 trillion dollars. Lowering taxes increase tax revenue, and that’s happened every time. First by JFK, then by Reagan, and then by GWB. Raising taxes will have the effect of slowing down the economy and actually lowering tax receipts. So Michael, what do you want, higher taxes, or higher tax receipts? To me it seems like the left just wants higher taxes for the sake of higher taxes in an attempt to punish the people who achieve and drive the economy.

    I am not rich, but the Bush tax cuts did help me, less money came out of my check. Like most Americans, I’m a few missed paychecks away from the welfare line and I have to budget to pay for my mortgae, may cars, groceries, etc. I feel like I pay plenty in taxes, more than my share. If the Bush tax cuts are rolled back, it will affect me somewhat but more importantly, it will affect small, sole proprietorship type business that really drive the economy. When I do have extra money, I donate to charities, I also volunteer in my community, I do my part. That’s why I’m against the drumbeat on the left to raise taxes.

    And Michael, we have created a nanny state for a large chunk of the population, the very poor and to some extent, the working poor. They have a situation now where an entitlement mentality is now generational, we have not done them any favors. We don’t have an overall nanny state but it seems like the left is pushing it in that direction by taking away private property rights like the right to smoke in a business that you own, now they are going to impose the same types of rules on food with high fat content, etc. Maybe caffeine is next, or sugar. Where will it end?

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  2. How dare you distort my words like that! 😉

    I obviously meant grow revenue. Like I said, Republicans spend the money just as fast as the Democrats.

    We don’t have a nanny state. That’s a myth. The countries with the highest standards of livings in the world are more socialist than we are. It makes economic sense to turn tax burdens into tax payers through government support. As Wellstone said, we have an anti-welfare agenda when we need an anti-poverty agenda.

    So, if you want all the same good things I do, which I do believe, why not support higher taxes for the richest of the rich? No one is harmed by that. The ultra rich are still ultra rich, the debt gets paid down, we have money for bridges and to turn tax burdens into tax payers. What is wrong with that? Why are Republicans so against supporting the government financially?

    I don’t believe the government can solve all problems. I do believe social cooperation is why we’ve done so well. Government is a force for good in the world, or should be. Why this war against revenue by the Right? Pawlenty called it “picking people’s pockets”. Why is that not outrageous to you?

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  3. micadelic says:

    I want to grow government because we have a huge fucking debt! I want to pay off the debt.

    Gotta admit, that gave me a good chuckle. Grow the government to pay off the debt. Good one!

    I’m familiar with the bathtub quote, a piece of hyperbole in and of itself. The hyperbole I was speaking of was your statement that the right wants to “destroy government.” Two bits of hyperbole do not a cogent argument make.

    Your statement that no mater how small it is, I want it smaller, is dumb. I want it smaller yes, to say I want it infinitely smaller, as you suggest, makes no sense. We need a government to protect us, provide for the common good, etc. but not to provide us all (some yes, not all) with health care, and retirement income, and god knows what else.

    And sorry, your side has done more to harm the poor by replacing families with the nanny state. You’ve created an entitlement class and sucked the will to succeed right out of them. So I disagree strongly, it is your side that has harmed the poor, albeit unwittingly, and harmed them greatly

    Here’s something to think about, I really believe the left thinks they are doing the right thing, and they think they are helping, and their motivation is to actually pure (this is a charitable view of the left, others believe you actually want to enslave the poor and make them beholden to the nanny state to preserve power). The problem is, you don’t help, you make it worse. One of my pet peeves is that you don’t believe that I have the same motivations, that I want to help people, that I want their lives to be better, I just vehemently disagree with you on how to do it. And you do not believe my motives, you think the right is evil, racist, and full of hate for the poor, etc. About this, you are wrong. Very, very wrong.

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  4. Here’s the quote:

    “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” – The Nation, 10/12/2004

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  5. First of all, will you please shut up about this “hyperbole and distortion” bullshit? The bathtub thing I referenced is something the Right is proud of. I’m not making this up. The only government the Right supports is the military, because it protects their wealth. The military is, by the way, socialist. Your family is socialist. Socialism is not a bad word at all, unless you are a rabid right winger. Absolutely, the USA is part socialist. Look it up, dude.

    No matter how small government is, you want it smaller. Thus, my taking it to extremes is completely consistent with your argument. No matter what size, it’s too big!

    I want to grow government because we have a huge fucking debt! I want to pay off the debt. It would be easy if we could raise taxes on ridiculously rich people. Unfortunately, ridiculously rich people have undue influence on government and they are little fucking pussies who whine about taxes almost constantly.

    To prempt your predictable retort: Republicans are not better at controlling spending than Democrats. The only programs they successful kill are ones who harm the poor.

    We need more fucking money in government and rich people should ante it up gladly. But they don’t. Because they are greedy little pussies. And they are “conservatives”.

    Let’s balance the budget, something a Republican president has not done in recent memory if ever.

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  6. micadelic says:

    Sorry bud, the notion that the right wants to destroy the government is disingenuous at best. They want to shrink it, a philosophy which I agree with, but they don’t want to destroy it. I get that hyperbole and distortion is the way the left tries to argue and persuade, but it doesn’t wash with anyone who can actually think for themselves. Why the left seems to want to grow government seemingly without end really does baffle me. I don’t understand it. The government of the US is the single most inefficient manager of money in the history of the world, and you want it to keep growing it and growing it and growing it. I truly, honestly don’t get that. Unless of course, you really are a socialist, and if that’s the case, just come out as an unabashed socialist and see how that sells.

    Do you really think that conservative politicians want to destroy the government and make it go away? Are you kidding me? It’s their cash cow, their free health care, there outrageous retirement benefits.

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  7. I agree that Democrats are as crooked as Republicans. Most of my arguments are about the philosophy of Left vs. Right. I think the conservative movement is wrong on just about everything. Not everything, but just about everything. The notion we should starve government until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub is something the Right takes pride in. I think it is treason.

    Read the title of this post. That bridge would have fallen down had a Democrat been governor. No question about it. However, the Republicans can’t ever say they did all they could do. They can never say that because they have an official agenda of starving government. They never, ever do all they can do. Do they think the private sector is going to fix that bridge?

    We fucking need government and a party whose main purpose is the destruction of government is an outrage.

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  8. micadelic says:

    If Clinton, or God forbid, Al Gore would have been president at the time of 9/11, the response of the country and the world would have been exactly as it was. There would have been groundswell of support, like there was for Bush, and it would have been the same for ANY president in those circumstances.

    And where, exactly are the accusations that “Clinton did it?” Have you been in a bubble the last 6 years? Ever heard of the 9/11 “truthers?” They absolutely believe that Bush actually did do it, not that he was responsible for it, but he fucking ordered it. Nobody said Clinton did it, but certainly his failures over the previous 8 years in dealing with the gathering threat contributed to the ability of Al Qua’ada to pull it off. And gee, what were those papers that Sandy Burger stole from the US Archives anyway? Wonder what they said about the Clinton administrations handling of Bin Laden et. al.

    And, your basic premise that somehow the right never takes responsibility and I guess, by inference, the left does. Dude, any rudimentary knowledge of history or current events proves that to be absurd.

    Ted Kennedy (D) – a girl dies in his car that he drunkenly drove off a bridge, and then ran away and failed to report it for hours. Current status… US Senator

    Tom DeLay (R) – Accused of violating campaign finance laws. Was never convicted of anything. Current status… He resigned his seat and his position as Majority Leader.

    William Jefferson (D) – $90,000 in cash found in his fridge wrapped in tin foil. He says he did nothing wrong. Current Status… US Congressman

    Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R) – Pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and underreporting his income. Current Status… Resigned from Congress, was convicted, and sentenced to 8 years in prison.

    Oh, and see reference to Sandy Berger (D) above. He admitted to removing classified documents from the US Archives he received the proverbial slap on the wrist.

    I could go on and on, but the point is that there is plenty of corruption on both sides but by and large, when righties get caught, they are generally forced out of office, or resign, or imprisoned, and otherwise take their lumps. You lefties on the other hand, seem to wiggle and squirm and hang onto power at all costs and are rarely held responsible or forced out of office.

    But I suppose that’s just because the righties are hypocritical because they claim to be more moral, while on the left, there’s no such pretension, so it’s OK if they’re corrupt.

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  9. MGR says:

    For people who love to think they’re part of “a culture of responsibility,” I have to say I’ve never actually witnessed a right-winger who was capable of admitting responsibility for anything that went wrong. 9/11 is a perfect example. “Clinton did it!” or “It’s no one’s fault!”

    Imagine if Gore or Clinton had been in charge when that happened. Does anyone think for one moment that right-wingers wouldn’t have called for impeachment, nay, criminal charges against the president? Does anyone think for a moment that if the governor of Minnesota were a Democrat that we wouldn’t be hearing about how Republicans are able to keep our roads and bridges in shape?

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  10. bsherwood says:

    interesting discussion here…I am just catching up.

    There is a bridge just 10 miles from my home,while not the same design as the MPLS bridge apparently a similar history of “please fix me” followed by “no we won’t” or take the lowest band-aid bid the state can get. The bridge is not on my daily commute by for some it certainly is.

    I think you would both agree that we elect officials to serve the public. I would stress that a bridge falling down is a pretty low level of serving. Neglect to the point of catastrophe means lives were wasted by poor decision making.
    Bodies are still in the water.

    This was not a private bridge. This was a public bridge paid for by citizens who have said “build me roads, bridges, interstates, schools, etc… and do it right…here take some of our money just do it right”

    I agree with Michael on “you get what you pay for” (ie…we in ND are really happy Pawlenty is crushing the MN schools…now we have a large pool of applicants for our open positions…)

    Bodies are still in the water. After the proper length of time it would be interesting to go back through public records and find out who is slowing or stifling these needed repairs…if Mik is right and we are taxed enough, then where did this bridge money go?….

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  11. Sorry, micadelic, I have a life, you know!

    It doesn’t change my original point in the slightest. Could we have fixed that bridge? Could we have? Yes. Did we? No. We waited until it fell down and now, all of a sudden, the resources are available to figure out that it had problems. This is endemic of a resource-starved government, even as the rich get richer and richer.

    I’m writing a front-page post about “how much is enough” to smack your ass back down. 😉

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  12. micadelic says:

    Michael wrote:

    That bridge lasted 40 years without a problem, and you want to claim it was just poorly designed?

    micadelic wrote wrote:

    If you want to play the stupid card, your sentence above displays a pretty stunning ignorance of engineering. I don’t want to claim anything but the fact that it lasted ONLY 40 years COULD be a sign of poor design. This bridge was a relatively young bridge and most bridges in this country are designed to last considerably longer than 40 years without major repairs or renovations.

    The NT Times reports:
    Potential Flaw Is Found in Design of Fallen Bridge

    The Minneapolis Red Star reports:
    Possible design flaw identified

    Now, I’ve read elsewhere that this particular bridge was designed to last at least 50 years and there are other bridges in this country that have lasted 70, 80, 90, 100 years. So, the fact that it only lasted 40 is indicative of a design flaw. I would bet that this proves to be the case combined with the uneven load placed on the bridge by an imbalanced traffic pattern and the amount on construction materials placed on the bridge.

    So, when I’m proven to be correct in this, are you going to admit that you were just using this tragedy to defame the current administration and advance your political agenda? It’s obvious that’s what you, and others on the left (eg. Nick “the retard political hack” Coleman), are doing.

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  13. micadelic says:

    OK, then I’ll say your point is stupid because you think that I am not saying anything when I am. One of my pet peeves is people who won’t concede an obvious and legitimate point. It is legitimate to say that we already are one of the most heavily taxed states in the country. That is a fact which you can’t deny. I also believe your insistence that somehow “we’ll have enough when we have enough” is stupid. How much does it cost? Will it ever be enough? The state takes an average of about 11% of our incomes. Should they take 15%, how about 20%, how much is enough Michael?

    My other pet peeve is your assumptions, which are stupid. This is laid bare by your comment that “investment in non-auto transportation is not ‘useless'” as a rebuttal to my comment about the “useless light rail system.” Dude, you are making the mistake of attempting to frame your oppositions argument is a disingenuous way. I absolutely love mass transit. I think mass transit rocks, I have used it many times throughout my life and I wish there was more, better mass transit. I sit in traffic every damn day. What the retarded DFL did was put a useless rail line between the fucking MOA and downtown. Why don’t they put it somewhere where people who commute to work would actually use it. Say from the Burnsville transit station to downtown, ot from Minnetonka to downtown, or from Anoka to downtown. I didn’t say mass transit is useless, I said the fucked up poor excuse for a commuter solution that is the Hiawatha Line is useless and was only put where it is for really stupid political reasons.

    So dude, maybe you should listen, and try to understand, what other people say and not just dismiss it because you think you know everything and have all the answers.

    Guess what, I want poor people to be fed, I want people to have health care, I want our roads and infrastructure to be in good repair, I want your kids and my kids to live in a beautiful place with lots of nice amenities and public works. I just do not believe that the fucking answer to everything, all the time, is to raise taxes. To me, this chorus on the left to raise taxes, raise taxes, raise taxes, is disturbing. Not because I don’t fucking agree with you on almost everything you want for the community, I just think there are better ways to do it. I, and the right, are not stupid, evil, or retarded. We have a different world view, we don’t think the government is the answer to every problem. It’s a honest difference of opinion and not an evil plan to screw the poor. IMHO, the left has screwed the poor, albeit unintentionally, mare than the right ever has.

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  14. It’s stupid because you think you are saying something but you’re not. You are reporting only half the story. This is a major pet peeve of mine.

    For example, I say, I just spent $10,000. You say, “you’re stupid, I only paid $1000”. I say, what did you get? You say, a really nice bike. I say, oh, I got a sweet BMW.

    You can’t talk about what people pay without also talking about what they got in return. Minnesota ranks near the top of all sorts of other lists in regards to the economy, the education system, the environment, our work force. We live in a great place because of the fact that we are #11 or whatever in taxes.

    Republicans just don’t seem to realize that you get what you pay for. If you want good things, pay for them. The tax league and other retards like that always focus on any statistic that leads you to believe we pay too much in taxes. They ignore all the great things those taxes buy us.

    So, yes, I think it is stupid to imply that we “pay too much” without enumerating the great things you want to eliminate so you can keep a few more percent of your paycheck.

    The Republican war on taxes is wrong-headed, deceptive and not helpful.

    How much is enough? Enough! Enough to pay for roads, bridges, the environment, the schools. Enough to take care of our veterans. Enough to fight poverty instead of welfare. Government is hamstrung by rich people who want to be incrementally richer. It pisses me off.

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  15. micadelic says:

    sucked up and brought on… now…

    How is a fact stupid?

    Minnesota is currently ranked #11 in total tax burden.
    http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/335.html

    I state an indisputable fact, which is we are one of the most highly taxed states, and you call it stupid. I’m confused by this.

    I ask, how much do you want? That’s a question, how can that be stupid, it’s a direct question.

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  16. Sorry, my “stupid” comment was inspired by this stupid comment:

    Minnesota is already one of the highest taxed states in the entire nation, how much do you want?

    …which I will pick up another time.

    We know what the NTSB is going to say: the bridge was not adequately maintained. It’s the only possible solution. Come back here in a year and see that I’m right.

    Why wasn’t it adequately maintained? Because people were overly worried about the bottom line.

    I know you see yourself as some rational centrist, but my anger and frustration is the result of a constant war on revenue by the Right. I’m pleased to see Pawlenty is supporting a gas tax now, which is long overdue.

    Also, investment in non-auto transportation is not “useless”. It just seems so to the Right, who just want more lanes from their country estate for their Hummers. 4 deaths is less than one holiday weekend for auto deaths.

    Yes, Michael, I’m pissed off that the Right constantly doesn’t get this shit. I think the philosophy is really, really wrong and Right wingers are in denial. My attacks are not meant to be personal, but you represent the Right here and that’s why you get it. So suck it up, bitch, and bring it on.

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  17. micadelic says:

    That bridge lasted 40 years without a problem, and you want to claim it was just poorly designed? The fact that structural problems were pointed out repeatedly, year after year, under this administration — not relevant?

    If you want to play the stupid card, your sentence above displays a pretty stunning ignorance of engineering. I don’t want to claim anything but the fact that it lasted ONLY 40 years COULD be a sign of poor design. This bridge was a relatively young bridge and most bridges in this country are design to last considerably longer than 40 years without major repairs or renovations.

    To me, whatever actually happened, should be blamed more on the inspection process. This bridge has been inspected and at least deemed serviceable every 2 years. If there was a flaw in the actual structure due to metal fatigue, or corrosion, or whatever, it wasn’t discovered by the inspections. Then again, as I said in the previous post, it may have been caused by an undue amount of load placed on one specific spot due to all the construction materials on the deck at the time. In which case, the blame could be placed on the construction company.

    Finally, it may very well be the fault of this administration and the way it’s handled infrastructure funding, it’s possible. I am only saying that there is no way to know that at this juncture and to jump on the blame bandwagon before the actual cause is even know demonstrates your desire to just demonize the opposition and not actually work to make anything better.

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  18. micadelic says:

    Totally missing my point and my comments are “not littered with stupid,” whatever that means.

    My point is not to blame anybody. My point is we don’t even know what happened yet or exactly why the bridge collapsed. I’m not trying to rewind to blame anybody, just pointing out that there have been many administrations in the past 40 years and to lay the blame at the foot of only the most recent one is ridiculous.

    The left is just waiting to blame everything on the right, no matter what, without even knowing the facts. Maybe the construction company had too much material on one spot of the bridge, cement trucks, mixers, other materials, maybe it was a poor design from the get-go, maybe a bunch of things. You want to use every tragedy to your political advantage which I think is wrong-headed. There are still dead bodies in the water, including a pregnant woman and her toddler. Can you guys give it a fucking rest until you actually know what happened. For you to make all these judgments before the facts are known is what’s stupid.

    Also, I went away from this blog for a while because I was tired of just being told “I was wrong.” That is so blatantly arrogant. I’m not stupid and my points are not stupid just because you disagree. Lots of very, very smart people are making the same points as I am. Dude, people who disagree with you are not always wrong or stupid.

    I’ve got a news alert for you… You’re not always right.

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  19. Ha, ha, ha.

    So, this wasn’t preventable?

    Isn’t it funny how NOTHING is EVER the fault of a Republican! The man on top is never to blame if you happen to be Republican. You just have to rewind to the last Democrat to place blame.

    That bridge lasted 40 years without a problem, and you want to claim it was just poorly designed? The fact that structural problems were pointed out repeatedly, year after year, under this administration — not relevant?

    Your comments are littered with stupid but let me back up to my original point: under the “No New Taxes” philosophy every agency, all the time, has to go with the cheapest solution. We’re always putting it on the credit card and driving the bid down.

    Remember that laughable event on the Highway 62 project where Pawlenty wanted which ever construction company would do the work to loan the state of MN the money? They got 0 bids. One more lame attempt by this cheap-ass governor to not do his job.

    The starve government philosophy is stupid and it hasn’t worked. This bridge fell because everyone was more worried about the budget than fixing it.

    The response from the MNDot should have been: let’s get it right. Instead it was, let’s get it cheap.

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  20. micadelic says:

    Couple of points here…

    Even if the most costly repair to the bridge would have been chosen, i.e. bolting plates to reinforce it, that work would not have started until 2008.
    Even if the state had all the money in the world, and a 99% tax rate, the replacement of this bridge would have been far down the list of infrastructure improvements.
    The Governor of the State of MN when the design for this bridge was selected was Karl Rolvaag, a DFLer. Apparently there were other, better options at the time but the design that collapsed was selected. There are thousands of bridges across this country that are much, much older than the I35W bridge that were obviously built better and did not collapse.
    Tim Pawlenty has been Governor for 4 1/2 years out of the last 40. During the last 40 years, there have been about the same number of Republican and DFL governors but the legislature has been OVERWHELMINGLY DFL. Why wasn’t the bridge maintained better during those years? You can hardly place the blame for this on Pawlenty!
    Minnesota is already one of the highest taxed states in the entire nation, how much do you want?
    Florida and Texas have no state income taxes and I don’t see their bridges dropping out of the sky, and they’ve got some whoppers! Ever drive to Key West?
    How many millions (or a billion, maybe) was used to build the almost useless light rail system (which has killed 4 people in 4 years, BTW) that could have been better spent for infrastructure improvements?

    My point, this was a terrible tragedy, I heard an engineer call this a “black swan” event, an anomaly. No amount of taxation would have prevented it and to use this politically to advance the cause of raising our taxes, is disingenuous and IMHO, the worst kind of political maneuvering.

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