Monday, November 02, 2009

Crumbling America

Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge open again after week-long closure. Seems a piece of it fell off and smashed some cars, injuring one of the passengers.

This is the eastern span, which is in the process of being replaced by a span that has been under construction for eight years and is scheduled to be completed three years from now. Building the entire Bay Bridge took only three years back in 1933, but that was in 1933, when we were a real nation that knew how to build shit. Today... not so much.

It was a good run, America, but a nation that no longer has the capability to keep its basic infrastructure up and going is a nation that is in irreversible decline. The Roman Empire fell in part because their infrastructure collapsed, and nobody knew how to fix it anymore, or cared. So it goes.

-- Badtux the Collapse Penguin


  1. Part of the problem is the budgeting equation. Folks are all for paying money for something tangible and new, like a bridge, but forking out the required money year after year to maintain it tends to gather less support. And so maintenance gets cut to the bone, or wiped out to 'save money' for other budget items.

    And over the years the deferred maintenance starts to show - in sometimes headline making fashion. Then there are suddenly funds available to 'fix' the problem, but there still wont be money down the road to continue to keep it in anything but 'good enough for now' condition.

    Part of the stimulus is being spent on infrastructure, but I'd bet most of that is 'new' infrastructure, not stuff that has needed work for years. And where will we go for money to maintain the new 'stuff' we're building, not to mention the stuff we already have?

  2. Money is pieces of toilet paper with pictures of dead people on it. What it takes to build or maintain a bridge is:

    1) People
    2) Steel
    3) Concrete
    4) Paint.

    Well, and the tools for working with the steel, concrete, and paint, but we already knew that.

    That's it. It's handy to exchange pieces of toilet paper in exchange for those four things. But if we are in a Great Depression and toilet paper is in short supply but we have a surplus of people, steel, concrete, and paint, there's other ways to handle it. The fact that we haven't figured this out is because of ideology and a lack of imagination, not because there's a budgeting problem.

    - Badtux the Toilet-paper Penguin

  3. Well, the way we do things, it also requires taxes. We know St Ronnie said they were anathema. So, no new bridges. No maintained bridges.
    If you have to be on the other side: swim.

  4. Care for a war? New or used?

  5. (1) California budget process (need I say more).
    (2) It takes usually way longer to replace something that's working than to build a new thing.


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