Friday, August 03, 2007

Tragedy happens and the press incites panic

In writing about this week's tragic bridge collapse over the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, some of you may think that I am demeaning the significance of the event in saying that the mainstream press is engaging in a festival of panic inducement and over-reaction, but all we really need to do is examine how the national press is dealing with the story to see that in the wake of the terrible tragedy the mainstream press seems to enjoy spreading panic.

To believe CBS News, all of our bridges are going to collapse and we are all going to die since our national infrastructure is crumbling. We shall daily read of headlines that this or that bridge has collapsed. NBC tells us that so many of our bridges are old and decrepid that none of them are safe to travel on. Indeed, not just the bridges, but the entire highway system is in need of repair, and the only way to solve the problem is to raise the gas tax. Meanwhile, ABC warns us that the disaster in Minneapolis may intensify a widespread phobia of bridges, while just above that story they ran one warning everyone that their local bridges may not be safe (I suppose ABC News thinks that their story will somehow not contribute to the phobia they speak of). CNN also adds to the climate of fear, and of course U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada got his licks in:

"There is crumbling infrastructure all over the country," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

To be fair to Senator Reid, he joins a bipartisan chorus of leaders all over the country now calling for bridge inspections and highway scrutiny. I do find it funny that we weren't hearing this kind of talk much at all (especially from Democrats) until the Minnesota bridge collapsed. Now it is point-the-finger and shift-the-blame time, so let us use the opportunity to score cheap political points for ourselves off of the injuries and deaths of innocent people, shall we?

Don't get me wrong, I am glad that our State government has finally found the time to inspect East Tennessee bridges. It took a bridge collapse almost 1,000 miles away to trigger what should be a routine inspection? TDOT has work crews all over the place around here working on all sorts of road projects, not all of which are necessary (here in East Tennessee, we are in a perpetual state of Road Construction Eternal), and yet we are just now getting around to a bridge inspection? I can smell the pandering from here.

The bridge collapse in Minnesota was not only a terrible tragedy, but it has triggered a much needed discussion on the state of our bridges and roads. Let's not let this important moment turn into a needless exercise in fear and cheap political point-snatching.

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At Friday, August 03, 2007 1:51:00 PM, Blogger Coco said...

"I do find it funny that we weren't hearing this kind of talk much at all (especially from Democrats) until the Minnesota bridge collapsed."

Actually, Dems have criticized the GOP over infrastructure problems for years. A quick Google search yielded this and this.

I'm sure there's more out there as well.

At Friday, August 03, 2007 3:10:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

But the Dems (and for that matter, the Republicans) were hardly making an important issue of the nations infrastructure. It just wasn't something we were hearing about from either party, even though care of the basic infrastructure is the primary function of government at the local and State level.

Now we go to the other we are all going to die and our bridges shall all collapse if today's press reports are to be believed.

At Friday, August 03, 2007 3:46:00 PM, Blogger LeftWingCracker said...

Brother Oatney,

You have a point about the media coverage, but that also validates what Coco says.

If the media had been PROPERLY covering this all along, something might have been doen to shore up the I-35W bridge, along with others.

We have two bridges over the Big Muddy here, at its widest point. the "new" bridge (opened 34 years ago YESTERDAY) is in early middle age, while the "old" bridge is 58 years old. Did I mention that they are the only 2 bridges between Caruthersville, MO, and Helena, AR?

This is why the type of government that says we can't spend money or raise taxes is WRONG. We have an infrastructure to rebuild all over America.

I agree that we cannot use NO-BID contracts, and we have to regulate the process, but that's what government can DO, when it is properly funded.

At Friday, August 03, 2007 5:20:00 PM, Anonymous Todd said...

As a former structural engineer it really bothers me that the media and liberals want to blame this on engineers. The fact is engineers know about these issues, they do their inspections, make their reports and then some politician decides that the cost is too high.....such a sad time we live in....people need to wake up and insist that we repair our aging infrastructure.

At Friday, August 03, 2007 5:27:00 PM, Blogger A. Renee Daley said...


Why is it up to the federal government to fix all the problems at the State level? This continues to boggle my mind.

Liberals want to continue to fleece everyone and keep making us more dependent on their nanny state. Keep pointing the finger at everyone else just like state and local officials did when they refused to take responsibility for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Ray Nagin and the like were too busy running down the Federal government and the EVIL Republicans. President Bush and others in the GOP are somehow to blame for every terrible tragedy that has taken place over the last six years.

Democrats are just as complacent when it comes to addressing such problems, so please stop blowing sunshine up my arse.

At Friday, August 03, 2007 5:59:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

"This is why the type of government that says we can't spend money or raise taxes is WRONG."

I never said government couldn't spend money or raise taxes. The problem is that there are certain people who don't know how to spend the people's money wisely and effectively, and therefore see raising taxes as the only solution to the problem of running low on money. Very often, government should first look to how money is being spent before asking people to hand over more of what THEY (not the government) earn.

There are still others who haven't grasped the idea that we live in a federal republic, and rely on the federal government to solve all of their problems, when they should first and foremost hold their State and local officials accountable.

It isn't just about raising taxes and spending money. It is about knowing how to spend money that doesn't belong to the government for the public good, how to do it wisely, and how to do it without asking too much of the people who actually earn the money.


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