The news from Minneapolis sheds a disturbing light on the chances of a positive contribution from America to our unprecedented new problems.
Minneapolis suffered a perfect storm of nightmares Wednesday evening, as anyone who couldn’t sleep last night can tell you. Including the parents who clench their jaws and tighten their hands on the wheel every time they drive a carload of strapped-in kids across a steep chasm or a rushing river. Don’t panic, you tell yourself. The people in charge of this know what they are doing. They make sure that the bridges stay standing. And if there were a problem, they would tell us. Wouldn’t they?
What if they didn’t?
The death bridge was “structurally deficient,” we now learn, and had a rating of just 50 percent, the threshold for replacement. But no one appears to have erred on the side of public safety. The errors were all the other way.
Would you drive your kids or let your spouse drive over a bridge that had a sign saying, “CAUTION: Fifty-Percent Bridge Ahead”?
Apparently between tax cuts, subsidies to people who don’t need subsidies, and random military interventions, we apparently aren’t able to keep up with perfectly ordinary problems.
The type of problem that is easiest to treat negligently is the type of problem where very bad things happen at some time in the future but nobody complains until then. Falling bridges, collapsing levees, failing ice sheets.
My fellow Texans, left and right, are so unimpressed by politics that they all trust in individual action. Such ideas are misplaced.
A dramatic increase in the competence of the public sector is urgently needed.
No matter how well-intentioned you personally are you can’t replace a dam, a bridge or a levee on your own, never mind the West Antarctic freaking Ice Sheet, which, in case you didn’t know, is about six times the size of Texas.