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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Lack of Taxation Did Not Cause the I-35W Bridge Collapse

Quite predictably liberal politicians at all levels of government, along with their willing accomplices in the mainstream media, are blaming the Pawlenty administration "no new taxes" policy for the I-35W bridge collapse. Like most liberal ideas and rhetoric, the claim does not hold up to even the most rudimentary honest analysis. It's obvious that many liberals are looking to use this tragedy to promote or further entrench their misguided ideas and agendas.

At the most fundamental level, the bridge collapsed because the force of gravity overcame the resistance of the bridge structure to keep itself standing. There are several things that possibly could have contributed to this, including but not limited to:
  • Poor design of the bridge
  • Inadequate maintenance
  • Inadequate frequency of inspection
  • Inadequate inspection techniques
  • Faulty workmanship during construction or maintenance
  • Defective materials in construction or maintenance
  • Deterioration of the infrastructure by the forces of nature
  • Deterioration of the infrastructure by man-made causes
  • Deterioration of the infrastructure through over-loading
  • Deliberate sabotage
Note that I did not include "lack of funding" in the list. This is because there was demonstrably plenty of funding or potential funding available as the state had a surplus of over $2 billion dollars. We the voters also approved a constitutional amendment that ostensibly provides additional funding for roads (please don't take this as my endorsement of the amendment as it was weasel worded to siphon off a large portion of the revenue for goofy liberal "transportation" boondoggles instead of all going towards roads and bridges).

The governor and the legislature could have, and undoubtedly would have, shut the bridge down and allocated sufficient funding to repair or replace it had they known that the bridge was in danger of collapse. Regardless of the wide range of political views in Saint Paul, I cannot believe the governor and the rest of the politicians in this state would have allowed the bridge to remain in service with the knowledge it was in danger of collapse. Politicians of all ideologies, as well as their families and friends, crossed that bridge on a daily basis. Regardless of all of the downright stupid and reckless ideas and agendas of many in the legislature (from both parties), I can't believe that our elected officials would allow this to occur.

On the other hand, misplaced priorities could have very well, albeit unintentionally, contributed to one or more of the factors that did cause the actual collapse. What is done is done. We cannot bring those who died in the collapse back to life. We can, however, look at the policies and procedures relative to our transportation infrastructure and maintenance to reduce the chances of a similar disaster in the future. We need to patiently let the people who are determining the cause of the collapse do their job without pressure from politicians and, if their findings indicate a deficiency in the inspection or monitoring process, make whatever changes are necessary so that our elected officials are given the proper information to make informed decisions.

First and foremost, we cannot allow the tragedy of the bridge collapse to be manipulated by liberal politicians and their media cheerleaders to goad the governor into signing a gas tax increase (or other tax increases) into law. The media blitz has already started. For example, yesterday on the "WDFL-TV" Pat Kessler, the openly liberal cheerleader who purports to be a "political reporter", was brimming with excitement as he relayed the almost virtual certainty that Governor Pawlenty would call a special session to address road infrastructure funding and that an increase in the gas tax was "on the table". On KSTP-TV, the anchor opined during what was supposedly a news cast that an increase in the gas tax was "inevitable", the only question being "how much". Liberal political hack columnist Nick Coleman shamelessly paints the picture that the governor's tax policy was directly responsible for the collapse of the bridge. Undoubtedly the useful idiot liberal activists are eating this stuff up and mobilizing for action.

Conservatives need to be just as aggressive in applying pressure to the governor and the conservatives in the legislature to stand strong in opposition to tax increases and to get any needed funds to replace the I-35W bridge and for necessary maintenance and improvements to other road infrastructure from cutting some funding from wasteful programs such as the education rat-hole, the "health and human services" welfare scam, or stuff like this (as reported by Rush Limbaugh on Friday on his radio show):
  • $97.5 million for the North Star commuter rail line
  • $34 million in subsidies to ethanol producers that have seen a 300% increase in profits in the last year
  • $30 million for bear exhibits at the Minnesota and Como zoos
  • $12 million to renovate the Schubert Theater in downtown Minneapolis
  • $1 million for a replica Vikings ship in Moorehead
It would also be a good idea abandon light rail and other goofy liberal "transportation" ideas in general. Although lack of funding did not cause the I-35W bridge to collapse, suspending the light rail boondoggle would relieve the pressure on legislators to increase taxes in the name of road infrastructure maintenance and improvement. Additionally, how wise is it to create a vast new transportation infrastructure that will require constant maintenance and funding just to keep it operable at a time when our roads and bridges need immediate attention?

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