Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Blaming others... again

I just finished reading nine letters to the Free Press editors scatter-shooting blame for the collapse of the I35W bridge in Minnesota. After reading them I was reminded of a saying, "Those that say what they think should be careful to first think." The same can probably be said of writing letters to the editor (or blogs for that matter).

A writer from Farmington Hills complains elected officials are too busy bringing pork back to their districts to attend the mundane task of maintaining roads and bridges. The writer conveniently ignores how too many Americans believe their representatives are in Washington for the purpose of bringing home as much bacon as possible, rather than addressing themselves to the job of acting and voting in the country's best interest and not just their district's.

A man from Lansing blames a right-wing philosophy advocating tax cuts and smaller government, then exploits the tragedy of the bridge's collapse to complain the rich aren't paying enough taxes. He's certain if only the top 10% of income earners would pay more than 65% of our country's taxes all our roads and bridges would be made safe. Besides being blatantly partisan it is also non sequitor because it matters little from where the money comes--it matters where it goes. But why should anything like a bridge collapse require we start thinking logically now?

Southgate blames the federal government and points to Hurricane Katrina as proof. The feds knew the levees weren't up to the challenge just as they knew the bridge would collapse last Wednesday, killing at least 5 people. Apparently, all the residents living below sea-level, their mayors and state representatives have no responsibility to think or act for themselves and must wait for instructions from Washington. It may make you wonder why people bother with local government at all.

A Wayne State University professor of engineering blames it on--engineers! Actually, I'm not certain what his point is because he's one of the guys teaching. The bridge was constructed in 1967, when America was arguably at one of its engineering peaks. As far as anyone knows its design wasn't out-sourced to China. And if he thinks we should graduate more scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians (STEM) he should protest secondary and college curricula long on political correctness and short on academics.

Finally, after a letter from Lake Orion placed the blame squarely on Minnesota's Scrooge-ish Republican governor and legislators for twice rejecting a tax increase, Royal Oak's Kevin Lucas writes:
The bridge collapse in Minnesota was tragic, and adding even more to the tragedy are the media and politicians claiming it happened because Gov. Tim Pawlenty didn't raise taxes on gas to fix the roads.

Pawlenty vetoed the tax because the state had a $2.1-billion surplus. The state is instead building new stadiums for the Twins and the Vikings, building bear exhibits at zoos, light-rail systems, fixing a theater, building a Viking ship, and subsidizing ethanol producers to the tune of some $950.5 million. I don't know which party controls their Legislature, but somehow all this was more important than fixing the roads.

All the states, including Michigan, scream about the roads and infrastructure. But the states decide what gets fixed and what does not. So look at your state budget and tell the governor and the legislators what you want your taxes to go for.

Put another way, Mr. Lucas said government is run by the people that show up; the people that show up to vote and the people that show up to be voted for. Remember that. You'll be hearing it again in a few days.


  1. Ah, modern political dialogue.

    The rush to blame, the angry words, the hate and vitriol.

    Gotta love it.


  2. I'm always amazed at how quickly people are to place blame for disasters. This seems a modern phenomena we've become conditioned to by the profiteers of litigation.

    Every tragedy is not without its green-back lining. When life gives you lemons, sue the laundromat for $64 million!

    Somehow I don't think "The Greatest Generation" would have been so quick to presume something sinister behind the collapse of a bridge that stood strong for 40 years. I suspect they would have looked at themselves and wondered that if infrastructure was being neglected, that perhaps it was so because sprawl had created so much more of it that each road, ramp, and bridge would get progressively less attention as tax dollars and tax-payer's priorities were distracted elsewhere.

    Just a thought, but the difference to me is today people look for someone else to blame rather than admit they may have been accessories to the alleged neglect, and were themselves partially responsible.

  3. I completely agree there needs to be an end to the "blame game," but I find it odd that this post ignores how the President placed the blame squarely on the Democrats in Congress. He spent just a few moments his post-collapse speech expressing sympathy for the victims and the balance complaining how Congress hadn't passed spending bills.

    "The Greatest Generation" had wars with clear battle lines and well-known enemies. Our parents and grandparents weren't fed a steady diet of fear, speculation and suspicion. They didn't know every single detail of every twisted, sick crime committed, everywhere in the world.

    We scramble to find who is at fault because we are afraid. And what we fear most is looking too closely at our own level of responsibility. We blame the government we elected. We chide people for angry, hate-filled dialogue - right up until we're angry about something and do the same.

    Research the issues. Dig deeper than the mainstream media. Embrace a variety of opinions and ideas, instead of slapping on the blinders, whether liberal or conservative. Admit there is some truth in every system of belief. Acknowledge the thread of humanity, the spark of creation that unites us all.

    It's scary, I know...

  4. "I find it odd that this post ignores how the President placed the blame squarely on the Democrats in Congress. He spent just a few moments his post-collapse speech expressing sympathy for the victims and the balance complaining how Congress hadn't passed spending bills."

    Then shame on President Bush for playing the Blame Game. Had President Bush written a letter to the Free Press in-time for yesterday's edition blaming congress I would have criticized him too.

    You have a good point about the Greatest Generation perhaps not having as much to fear as we do. But were they not fearful enough or are we too fearful? Have cable news networks with 24-hour coverage of our planet's tragedies and tyrants become our generation's Pandora's box?

  5. Thomas Sowell's, A bridge too far gone, does a great job tying together the ideas that a) there was enough money already, b) it wasn't spent properly, c) politicians spend to get re-elected and d) voters prefer candy over eating their vegetables.