Pharyngula

Bridge collapse update

The place to go if you want to track the media responses to our Twin Cities bridge disaster is Minnesota Monitor. There are regular updates as new information comes in.

If you’re looking to know where the responsibility is going to fall, Nick Coleman has the answers.

For half a dozen years, the motto of state government and particularly that of Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been No New Taxes. It’s been popular with a lot of voters and it has mostly prevailed. So much so that Pawlenty vetoed a 5-cent gas tax increase – the first in 20 years – last spring and millions were lost that might have gone to road repair. And yes, it would have fallen even if the gas tax had gone through, because we are years behind a dangerous curve when it comes to the replacement of infrastructure that everyone but wingnuts in coonskin caps agree is one of the basic duties of government.

I’m not just pointing fingers at Pawlenty. The outrage here is not partisan. It is general.

Both political parties have tried to govern on the cheap, and both have dithered and dallied and spent public wealth on stadiums while scrimping on the basics.

After citing that ghastly quote from Grover Norquist, “My goal is to cut government in half … to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub” (especially after Katrina, that quote deserves to be Norquist’s epitaph), Phoenixwoman seconds that suggestion:

It’s possible that delayed maintenance — delayed because of budget cuts, as the Republican Pawlenty would rather chop off his own genitals than undo his tax cuts for the rich — may have been a factor.

I think we can safely say that the Republican party platform has been a catastrophic and costly failure. Let’s hope one positive result from these recent disasters is that people realize that taxes ought to be used for investments in infrastructure rather than propping up the obscenely wealthy and funding wasteful foreign military adventures.


Spot makes an interesting observation: he reminds us that the Republican convention is in Minneapolis next summer. This disaster is not going to be corrected by then. Can we all remember to rub their noses in the debris when they come around?

Now we just need an opportunity to tell the Democrats that they’d better set their priorities appropriately, too.

Also read BldgBlog: Infrastructure is patriotic.

It’s interesting to point out, then, that the Federal Highway Administration’s annual budget appears to be hovering around $35-40 billion a year – and, while I’m on the subject, annual government subsidies for Amtrak come in at slightly more than $1 billion. That’s $1 billion every year to help commuter train lines run.

To use but one financial reference point, the U.S. government is spending $12 billion per month in Iraq – billions and billions of dollars of which have literally been lost.

Comments

  1. #1 CalGeorge
    August 2, 2007

    Time to pay the piper, Pawlenty.

  2. #2 Corey Schlueter
    August 2, 2007

    This is a problem here in Canada, too. A bridge collapsed last September in Montreal killing one and they found that many other bridges were not up to standard.

  3. #3 Caledonian
    August 2, 2007

    Tax cuts have to be for the rich – poor people don’t pay ‘em.

  4. #4 Ike
    August 2, 2007

    Republicans always talk about taxes and are willing to run the deficit to over ten trillion. Sooner or later someone is going to pay that bill. Hopefully their grandchildren but not them.

  5. #5 Curtis Anderson
    August 2, 2007

    Pawlenty? I thought 35W was a part of the interstate system funded by the federal governmet. Wouldn’t this bridge failure fall at the feet of congress?

  6. #6 Stogoe
    August 2, 2007

    Congress will release the money for this disaster, certainly, but our crumbling infrastructure won’t be addressed – the rich have to be kept happy, or they might not invite the senators to their parties.

  7. #7 Fernando Magyar
    August 2, 2007

    Caledonian,

    Just curious, what are you, rich or poor? I don’t consider myself to be either of those categories and yet I still find myself paying all kinds of taxes.

  8. #8 tony
    August 2, 2007

    Fernando:
    Caledonian is both: Rich in invective, asnd poor in spirit

  9. #9 sil-chan
    August 2, 2007

    I work for a city in Texas. As a result I have direct access to a lot of national infrastructure databases (since I am a computer science engineer and all)… That bridge was listed as structurally deficient. In our city, if an inspector lists a bridge as such, that bridge is IMMEDIATELY closed down and is not reopened until it has passed inspection. That bridge had been listed as such for TWO FRIGGIN YEARS. This mistake is going to end up costing more in lawsuits than fixing the bridge could have ever possibly cost (hell, more than tearing it down and building a new one could cost even). So here’s to lower taxes!

  10. #10 MF
    August 2, 2007

    Thirty five is falling down
    Falling down
    Falling down
    Thirty five is falling down
    Blame Paw-lenty

  11. #11 Zeno
    August 2, 2007

    New slogan for Minnesota:

    Governor Pawlenty for Bridge Troll

  12. #12 Moe
    August 2, 2007

    No need to wait until next year’s Republican convention — Perhaps when it comes to rubbing people’s noses in things, you should consider focussing your attention on those that vote for politicians that promise to cut taxes. Surely the voting public has a responsibility to connect services with taxes that finance those services.

  13. #13 K. Engel
    August 2, 2007

    Here in the last 29% land, aka West Michigan, not a month goes by without some libertardian or republican finding out that gee, maybe they should have voted yes for funding the fire department or some other service they they ended up needing.

  14. #14 John Danley
    August 2, 2007

    They need to learn the physics of ice.

  15. #15 The Physicist
    August 2, 2007

    PZ

    Since I work with the feds, and saw the the actual failure on the security camera, this exactly mimics a metal fatigue failure. I work in civil engineering for the Feds in the National office, which we are often called out on. Since I am not a structural engineer, I won’t be called, but I have a feeling we are going to lose at leasts one of them of the two we have over the next few days.

    But we all have seen models of metal fatigue failure, and this mimics it to a tee. When we all saw the security camera, we had a good idea what happened and why. The only thing we don’t know is where the initial failure was.

  16. #16 The Physicist
    August 2, 2007

    I am however glad to hear you are well.

  17. #17 andy
    August 2, 2007

    This is a terrible tragedy. My heart goes to all who have lost loved ones. Yet the latest from CNN is 4 confirmed dead and 8 missing. 12 dead at most. Train derailments, bridge failures etc in less developed countries like India and Pakistan have resulted in hundreds of deaths. Minneapolis is an infrastructure failure with remarkably few casualties. Probably due to the excellent emergency management programs N. American cities have in place. Good emergency planning, exercises, and response does save lives, and is worth investing in. As an emergency management professional, I find the (relatively) small loss of life in what could have been a major disaster to be a “kudo” to Minneapolis’es emergency managers.

  18. #18 Greta Christina
    August 2, 2007

    Yes, yes, yes.

    Here’s the thing. What government is — or at least, what it’s supposed to be, and what it at least sometimes is — is the method by which a society pools its resources for projects and services too big to be handled by individuals or small groups… and the method by which a society makes decisions about how those resources should be allocated.

    When people reflexively say they’re against taxes and government, it’s like they’re saying pooling resources is a bad idea. It’s like they’re saying that society itself is a bad idea. It’s like they’re saying, “Atomization of society? Woo-hoo! Bring it on!” It’s the philosophy of “Screw you, Jack, I’ve got mine.”

    I’m not much of a tinfoil hat conspiracy ranter. But I really think that the anti-government sentiment in this country has been deliberately drummed up by (a) the rich, as a way to get their taxes cut, and (b) by the politically powerful, as a way to make people feel alienated from their government, so they won’t participate in democracy and will leave it in the hands of the powerful.

    Government is not “them.” It’s us.

  19. #19 Caledonian
    August 2, 2007

    When people reflexively say they’re against taxes and government, it’s like they’re saying pooling resources is a bad idea.

    Like the Soviet collective farming system. Yeah, that really benefited the people.

  20. #20 andy
    August 2, 2007

    Caledonian: WTF??? So society=Stalinism? You’re nuts. I’m not gonna answer to your right wing woo.

  21. #21 andy
    August 2, 2007

    One more thing. Pooling resources. Ever heard of the Communist idea called “insurance”? I guess you’re against that too.

  22. #22 Ian B Gibson
    August 2, 2007

    Surely the voting public has a responsibility to connect services with taxes that finance those services.

    Yep. The old cliché that ‘you get the politicians you deserve’ is sounding increasingly accurate.

    Anyone prepared to predict an increase in a more forward-thinking, enlightened self-interest from either the voters or the politicians, based on events like this, though?

    Thought not.

  23. #23 another
    August 2, 2007

    Perhaps Caledonian and those of his political bent really cannot see the difference between good government and Stalinism.

    This would explain why they are such fanatics about destroying good government. It also makes it plain why the rest of us who can see the difference should never again allow that sort near the levers of power.

  24. #24 Azkyroth
    August 2, 2007

    Caledonian:

    Like the Soviet collective farming system. Yeah, that really benefited the people.

    I suppose you think that because sharks occasionally attack people, all cetaceans should be wiped out?

    (Seriously, this is that level of reasoning. We both know you’re smarter than this.)

  25. #25 zydborg
    August 2, 2007

    From the first quoted excerpt:

    [...]we are years behind a dangerous curve when it comes to the replacement of infrastructure that everyone but wingnuts in coonskin caps agree is one of the basic duties of government.

    I don’t know, I think the fact that the electorate perennially elects people who don’t maintain infrastructure suggests that that there are a lot of people out there who don’t think it’s a particularly important function of government.

    Both political parties have tried to govern on the cheap, and both have dithered and dallied and spent public wealth on stadiums while scrimping on the basics.

    That’s because politicians do what gets the votes: they give the people what the people want.

  26. #26 Christian Burnham
    August 2, 2007

    I’m sure Caledonian refuses to drive over government funded bridges or to use roads paid for by tax-payers. I can’t imagine he’d be hypocritical about this sort of thing.

  27. #27 Kseniya
    August 2, 2007

    As anyone whose last name ends in “-enko”, “-aizuk”, or “-ysyn” can tell you, Collectivism sucks. Everyone should have their own farm. Their own roads. Their own bridges. Their own FAA, FDA, FBI, CDC, and ATF. Then we wouldn’t have these kinds of problems. Except maybe if there was a bit too much of the “A” and the “F” going around at the same time. However, those with their own DOD needn’t be concerned.

  28. #28 Kelly
    August 2, 2007

    Would it be too crass to post billboards of the ruins of this bridge and the caption “No New Taxes”

  29. #29 Kseniya
    August 2, 2007

    I don’t know, I think the fact that the electorate perennially elects people who don’t maintain infrastructure suggests that that there are a lot of people out there who don’t think it’s a particularly important function of government.

    You know, that’s an interesting observation, and I think you’re on to something. However, I think the truth is ever so slightly different: There are a lot of people out there who don’t realize it’s a particularly important function of government.

    That’s because politicians do what gets the votes: they give the people what the people want.

    Perhaps. Or maybe it’s that they give the people what the people think they want – which may be pretty much whatever an effective campaign tell it it wants.

    Pol: “The people want lower taxes and less waste in government!”

    People: “Damn straight!”

    If (Lower taxes) = (less waste) then nothing important is being sacrificed to the cause of saving a few bucks.

    But what the Pol is really saying is more like this: “The people are willing to live with substandard services and decaying infrastructure as long as they save money on taxes, because they rarely connect the two.” But who in his right mind would campaign on that platform?

    I realize I am of “the people” too and that I have blind spots and lack a comprehensive view of the big picture. But isn’t this sorta what happens?

    In my state, the rallying cry has been “Fiscal responsibility!” which translates to “We’re going to make ourselves look good and put a trivial amount of money back in each taxpayer’s pocket by cutting or reducing funding of human services for those who need the most help”. Seems to work every time. *mutter*

  30. #30 thalarctos
    August 2, 2007

    I suppose you think that because sharks occasionally attack people, all cetaceans should be wiped out?

    Azkyroth, I was about to be pedantic about how you confused chondryichthyans and cetaceans, but your original is actually even better than the correct term, in a surreal sort of way.

  31. #31 MAJeff
    August 2, 2007

    Would it be too crass to post billboards of the ruins of this bridge and the caption “No New Taxes”

    Hell, I’d have Paris Hilton on the other side of the screen “But she got several tax cuts.”

  32. #32 eric
    August 2, 2007

    I suppose you think that because sharks occasionally attack people, all cetaceans should be wiped out?

    Of course not, especially since sharks aren’t cetaceans.

  33. #33 Azkyroth
    August 2, 2007

    Azkyroth, I was about to be pedantic about how you confused chondryichthyans and cetaceans, but your original is actually even better than the correct term, in a surreal sort of way.

    Of course not, especially since sharks aren’t cetaceans.

    That’s the point. They sort of look like them, though, to the clueless or willfully obfuscated. Ditto with Stalinism and “pooling resources” in the sense that Greta Christina meant.

  34. #34 Kseniya
    August 2, 2007

    Eric: That’s exactly the point – they’re not! Neither are “taxes and public works” of the same order as “Soviet farming collective”.

    Azkyroth’s word selection was intentional – I’ll eat my shapka if it wasn’t – and rather brilliant. Well done, Az.

  35. #35 phat
    August 2, 2007

    I’m not much of a tinfoil hat conspiracy ranter. But I really think that the anti-government sentiment in this country has been deliberately drummed up by (a) the rich, as a way to get their taxes cut, and (b) by the politically powerful, as a way to make people feel alienated from their government, so they won’t participate in democracy and will leave it in the hands of the powerful.

    That’s not tinfoil hat. That’s the Republican party playbook.

    phat

  36. #36 Azkyroth
    August 2, 2007

    That’s not tinfoil hat. That’s the Republican party playbook.

    Make up your mind. ;)

  37. #37 thalarctos
    August 2, 2007

    Then bravo and well-played, Azkyroth, and my bad for not recognizing it before your wit wooshed right over my head.

  38. #38 Guest
    August 2, 2007

    There are two structural causes (pardon the phrase) for America’s decaying infrastructure. The first is the dominance of Calvinist-derived Christianism and the second is voter demographics.

    As a product of its Calvinist history, there is a strong but frequently unconscious belief among the Christianist majority that wealth and poverty are respectfully gifts or punishments from god. In this light, any attempt to redistribute wealth is akin to blasphemy because it is questioning god’s allocation of resources. This leads to a complete rejection of taxation as taxes are perceived as funding the poor–challenging god’s will by attempting to undo his divine punishment. Without adequate taxation, there’s no money for infrastructure upkeep.

    The dominance of Christianist ideology also means that the population would far rather see what taxes it will tolerate spent on killing unbelievers and heretics (in current terms, ‘Muslims’) in foreign religious wars than seeing the proceeds of taxation spent on domestic projects.

    As for voter demographics, the majority of American voters are among the old. As a result, the political process tends to address the needs and wants of the aged before it considers the needs of anyone else. Unfortunately for most of the population, the needs and wants of the 65+ incontinence brigade do not lie with funding the upkeep of public goods. For the aged, there is no benefit in supporting the allocation of public money into maintaining infrastructure (or, indeed, paying for much of anything) when the payoff for success or the costs of failure will not be felt for longer than the aged expect to live. Add to this the fact that old people get more conservative (or, as it’s formally called, ‘senile’) and the result is a recipe for public infrastructure that’s comparable in places to that found in the third world.

  39. #39 Chairman Mao
    August 2, 2007

    Holy shit, Caledonian, makes me look well adjusted by comparison. Thank you, Caledonian, for being so nutty that I, Chairman Mao, seem like a perfectly reasonable thinker with downright good political views.

  40. #40 Zaphod Beeblebrox
    August 3, 2007

    No new taxes, bridge collapses.
    Republican rule, incredibly cruel.

  41. #41 LeeLeeOne
    August 3, 2007

    Whether city, state, county, or federal – we as taxpayers are ALL responsible, ultimately, for anything that happens, good or bad.

    Have YOU personally written/contacted anyone in any of your elected government? They are YOUR representatives, whether your single vote actually elected them or not, and you are a part of this country.

    If you have voted, I pat you on the back. If you have voted and taken a stance on any issue as a voter, I pat you on the back.

    If you have voted, and taken a stance, AND actually contacted (physically as is your legal right – mail, e-mail, phone call, appointment), you deserve the highest praises!

    I hate politics with a passion, one side pointing fingers at the other side or another or another but we are supposed to be the UNITED STATES! (UNITED – does anyone get it?!)

    If you did not vote for something and were offended by it, did you speak out? If you did not vote for an elected official and they did something to your disdain, did you contact them about it?

    Please, don’t allow any POLITICAL BLAME! WE are ALL ultimately responsible!

    I beg of each of you, as someone who may have been personally affected by the collapse of the I-35 bridge and I don’t mean any death of any particular individual; I mean the entire metropolitan area, the entire encompassing counties and other cities, the state and adjoining states, OUR country, and literally the world.

    (FYI: this was one of my regular bus routes I enjoyed and used when in the cities, regularly.)

    I hate the blame game – it gets no one anywhere, it divides instead of unites, it keeps the world immature and ignorant. Blame someone, something instead of yourselves… seems to be the status quo…. blech, blech, blech!

    If you did or did not vote for any tax hikes or amendments did you let your representatives in any city/state/federal system know about YOUR voice?!!!! Did YOU???!!!

    Yes, there are many things I thoroughly enjoy on this particuar website, as with many of the links the participants provide. Yes, this is information!

    This is what I and so many others depend upon. BUT… it’s the “blame game” I despise, and equally on ALL websites (including dawkins – gasp!)

    Why oh why oh why does anyone ascribe to playing the “blame game” when they themselves cannot prove to themselves they did what they could?

    I could give a “rat’s arse” if you can verify and document anything you may have done. That’s not the point!

    Any humanist not need rely on such “documentation” for their own humanistic verification. But, instead: Honestly, deep down inside (and that means don’t lie to anyone including yourself), have YOU been the best citizen that you can be under the US CONSTITUTION and AMENDMENTS? If you are a US citizen and don’t like the US CONSTITUTION and/or AMENDMENTS, or anything else – have you voiced YOUR opinion to your elected representatives?

    No, please, no sides! NO sides! Death is final, it’s forever, its the end – no political party really, honestly gains or loses because of any tragedy (man made or natural)!

    No sides. No politics. We are ALL responsible… ultimately.

  42. #42 Zeno
    August 3, 2007

    Greta: I’m not much of a tinfoil hat conspiracy ranter. But I really think that the anti-government sentiment in this country has been deliberately drummed up by (a) the rich, as a way to get their taxes cut, and (b) by the politically powerful, as a way to make people feel alienated from their government, so they won’t participate in democracy and will leave it in the hands of the powerful.

    One of the gimmicks of the powerful is to pretend to share the concerns of the general population. Multimillionaire Rush Limbaugh pretends to speak for the common man and a lot of them fall for it. He delivers a talking point about the dreadful “death tax” and people with nothing to leave their heirs shudder in horror.

    In the sixties I observed the growing incursion of corporate culture into California agriculture — guys in suits pretending to be farmers — and noticed how easily they could drum up political support from the family farmers they were supplanting. The agri-business guys would whine about limits on irrigation subsidies (subsidies designed to promote family farms) and family farmers like my father would line up right behind them. I never did understand that. [Link]

  43. #43 Ick of the East
    August 3, 2007

    I really don’t know what all of you are going on about.
    Didn’t you see President Bush’s speech?
    He said he would be praying for the survivors and families of the victims.

    Why can’t that be the final word on the subject?
    If you got Jesus, you don’t need to think about these things.

  44. #44 bigTom
    August 3, 2007

    A lot of infrastructure neglect is a time horizon effect. Politicians seek to minimize short term taxes, and maximize services that are immediately visible (and wanted) by voters. It’s more than just a republican thing, politicians of all stripes feel the same pressures. So whether it’s levees, or bridges, or water infrastructure, the pressure is to defer expenditure until the next guys term. Bonds help a bit, pass a bond, and you can do the work, while making contractors fat& happy, and …defer the expenditure.

  45. #45 archgoon
    August 3, 2007

    I can’t help but finding it odd the mood of the forums here.

    Elected representatives fail to fund public maintained bridges adequately to ensure that they are safe, and yet the rage of this forum is being directed towards people who argue that the government can’t be trusted to maintain bridges.

  46. #46 archgoon
    August 3, 2007

    sil-chan, your post interests me. Are the databases you have access to publicly available? Also, just to make sure that I’m understanding you correctly, are you saying that the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota was listed as structurally deficient for the past two years? Who performs the analysis?

  47. #47 archgoon
    August 3, 2007

    Yep, two years ago. As verified in the Star link on the Minnesota Montitor. Though this article says they had until 2020 to replace it.
    http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Edmonton/2007/08/02/4389449.html

  48. #48 bernarda
    August 3, 2007

    From an industry report in 2006. This is about roads in general and not about bridges, but you get the picture.

    “Many of the professionals who manage the road and bridge assets of North America have a much tougher year ahead because even though funding is generally on the increase, it falls far short of what they need to maintain pavement conditions and deal with congestion.

    For these men and women, the year ahead is another exercise in deciding what fraction of necessary work gets done and what gets pushed aside.

    One North Carolina city road manager said his biggest challenge is politicians’ unrealistic promises to voters not to raise taxes. “We have a decaying road infrastructure,” he wrote. “It’s failing faster than funds become available for saving it or reconstructing it.”

    His agency has invested in more training for crews to increase productivity, which has helped, but they also have a hard time retaining employees because the private sector pays more.

    Many agency people said they were responding to inadequate funding by putting more emphasis on preventive maintenance for good roads; one added the observation that pavements in poor condition will continue to decline.

    Several of those facing severe budget shortfalls traced part of their problems to their agency’s use of “creative financing” solutions in the past. Wrote one, “Our DOT has funded new construction by borrowing money (bonding) and not by a gas tax, and (now) the bonds are paid for with federal dollars and with layoffs of DOT personnel.”"

    http://www.hwycontractor.com/articles/jan06c.htm

    You get what you pay for.

  49. #49 Sean
    August 3, 2007

    Filthy fucking scumbag, and typical goddamned despicable Democrat, rushing to exploit a tragedy for his wretched beliefs.

    Just remember folks, only one of the above words is mine.

  50. #50 Loc
    August 3, 2007

    bigTom said:

    “A lot of infrastructure neglect is a time horizon effect. Politicians seek to minimize short term taxes, and maximize services that are immediately visible (and wanted) by voters.”

    I completely agree. I think that’s exactly right and the major issue. I’m going to elaborate on it a little. The reason for the horizon effect is due to the short term gain that the politician need to remain in power. They’re not there indefinitely. The system is flawed…but how to fix it?

  51. #51 Loc
    August 3, 2007

    Sean,

    What’s your problem? Don’t you think you should have capitalized (G)oddamn?

  52. #52 Sean
    August 3, 2007

    Sorry, not my (G)oddamn.

    As I said, those words belong to someone else. I only changed one proper noun.

  53. #53 Azkyroth
    August 3, 2007

    Elected representatives fail to fund public maintained bridges adequately to ensure that they are safe, and yet the rage of this forum is being directed towards people who argue that the government can’t be trusted to maintain bridges.

    Actually, a substantial amount of rage is being directed towards people who think that the government shouldn’t be able to tax citizens in order to obtain the money it needs, and/or who think that spending tax money killing brown people somewhere else is more important than maintaining our own infrastructure. And/or people who are stupid enough to believe that private enterprise (accountable to its shareholders) is MORE trustworthy than the government (accountable to the people, many of whom have unfortunately become the equivalent of a passed-out-drunk babysitter).

  54. #54 Azkyroth
    August 3, 2007

    Sean:

    If you look at what Philos actually said and compare it to what others here have actually said….

  55. #55 Tatarize
    August 3, 2007

    You can’t have guns and butter. Butter in this case being basic bridge maintenance, guns being an intractable worthless unneeded and poorly planned occupation of Iraq. Heck, if you look at the US’s finances it doesn’t even look like we can afford guns at all.

  56. #56 Graculus
    August 3, 2007

    Good boy, Caledonian, have a cookie.

  57. #57 Fernando Magyar
    August 3, 2007

    How about a road sign on structurally deficient bridges something along the lines of: “Crossing this Bridge may be hazardous to your health proceed at your own risk”. At least give us fair warning. Or maybe a color coding similar to the ones we are subject to when our good government is warning us of impending terrorist attacks. Imagine coming around the bend and seeing this big sign that says this bridge is now under a yellow alert! But don’t worry go on with your life as normal, there’s a sale at your local shopping mall. Oh and don’t forget to buckle your seatbelt lest you get a ticket.

    BTW maybe Caledonian has a point after all.Just because Rush Limbaugh says it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I thought this was quite rich: http://blog.myinvective.com/2007/06/only-rich-pay-taxes.html

  58. #58 Chris
    August 3, 2007

    Just a little side note here. This particular bridge collapse seems to me like a bit of a red herring in the larger infrastructure issue in that it was a relatively young bridge. Maybe it failed as a result of a lack of basic maintenance, maybe it was an imperfection in a truss element, or some other species of fluke, but either way it doesn’t really fit in to the big picture. We have two problems. Most of our critical infrastructure is a few times the age of the I-35 bridge. Many bridges are simply terminal. They’re old enough that no amount of maintenance is adequate; they simply have to be replaced. The fact that we’ve basically substituted trains with tractor trailers compounds the problem. Structures break down more quickly, and we’re more severely hobbled when they fail. It seems to me, then, that we’re in for a project of massive proportions. The discussion ought to be about obtaining the resources to repeat some large fraction of the industrialization process rather than just getting what we need for basic maintenance.

  59. #59 Caledonian
    August 3, 2007

    It’s the responsibility of the people to ensure that their resources are used properly – and that requires withholding their resources from a pool if the people who expend the pool aren’t worthy of doing so.

    So: do your societies permit you to withhold your resources from the pool, or does it take those resources by force if you try to withhold them?

    It’s remarkable that you can’t tell good government from theft-by-force.

  60. #60 Caledonian
    August 3, 2007

    Regarding the rich-poor-taxes:

    It’s worth noting that the “middle class” has been eroding steadily in the US for the past fifty years or so. Traditionally, the poor don’t pay taxes, and there are very few rich, so the majority of taxes come from the middle class.

    As that middle base shrinks, eventually there is only a vast majority that pays no taxes and a wealthy minority that does.

  61. #61 Kseniya
    August 3, 2007

    Eventually, yes, if the trend continues to its extreme conclusion, but you speak as if the middle class were already non-existant – an implication that adds little value to the current discussion, given that the majority of taxes still come from the middle class. *shrug*

    Were you just kinda… makin’ a joke? :-)

  62. #62 Kseniya
    August 3, 2007

    bleh… “existent” … (hypothesis: spelling accuracy increases in direct proportion to caffeine intake.)

    So: do your societies permit you to withhold your resources from the pool, or does it take those resources by force if you try to withhold them?

    Good question. Tough one to answer. How’s this for an answer: “Yes.”

    We can withhold to the extent that we can vote, in advance, for tax policy or for representatives who advocate the tax policy we favor. However, we cannot then arbitrarily decide on an individual basis to withhold paying whatever taxes result without facing the possibility of negative consequence (i.e. financial penalties or prison).

    We can vote for, or against, politicians who promise lower taxes. At the local level, we can vote or, or against, tax overrides to fund (or not) particular budget items, such as school funding. This may work at the state level as well. I guess it depends on the state.

    My home town has a “town meeting” format, in which citizens who wish to engage in the process gather in the field house at the HS to debate and vote on a series of issues. Everyone is welcome to speak, and everyone gets to vote.

    I like it. I won’t claim it’s perfect, it can be mind-numbingly dull at times and downright amusing at other, and the relatively small number of people who do show up act as de facto reps for the majority of their fellow residents – for better or worse – but it’s active participation that goes beyond showing up at the polls once a year.

    It would be kinda hard to implement that format in a big city, or state-wide, or nationally, though.

  63. #63 Loc
    August 3, 2007

    Kseniya,

    My home town has the same thing and it works relatively well, most of the time with conclusions that I disagree with. But still the majority of the town have a vote (although…we only have 2500 people). But with communications expanding exponentially, I hope for a better forum than a HS gym to hold these issues so certain aspects of “townhall” meeting can be brought to larger governing entities.

  64. #64 DSM
    August 3, 2007

    Oh, f.u., p.z. How do you (and the rest of you jackholes) explain bridge collapses in overwhelming liberal states like, oh, California.

    California Bridge Collapse Injures 2

    Is that the fault of the Republicans, too? (Somehow, I think you will find some way of blaming them for it.) See, if I were a moronic liberal like you, Coleman or the commenters here, I’d make stupid comments about how that bridge collapse was the liberals’ fault because they spend more on saving some sea turtles than on the infrastructure. Or they spend more on gay indoctrination in public schools. Or they’d rather line the pockets of their rich friends (and if you don’t think liberals do it as much as Republicans, you’re dreaming).

    In short, STOP TRYING TO MAKE THIS A PARTISAN ISSUE. It only shows how desperate and pathetic you all are.

  65. #65 archgoon
    August 3, 2007

    Ksienya, you’re wrong. Claiming that withholding a vote is comparable to withholding payments on a bill is ludicrous. For one thing, if your chosen elected official does not get elected you don’t get to say “Oh! I didn’t vote for you! I guess I don’t have to pay taxes.”

    Furthermore, there is _zero_ guarantee that your elected officials will do what they claim. I seem to recall that Bush said that he would be humble in his foreign policy. Can people who voted for him on that basis say “Hey! I want my tax money back? No money for foreign adventures!”

    However, we cannot then arbitrarily decide on an individual basis to withhold paying whatever taxes result without facing the possibility of negative consequence (i.e. financial penalties or prison).”

    Well, you could if you could if it were actually an option to “withhold resources from the pool”. Granted, there are tons of reasons why we can cheerfully argue why we shouldn’t be able to arbitrarily decide to withhold funds in our system, but don’t go pretending that we can.

  66. #66 Loc
    August 3, 2007

    DSM,

    I don’t think its a partisan issue…but you could have chosen a better example. California, last time I checked…has a REPUBLICAN Governor!!

    Nice try though.

  67. #67 Brian F
    August 3, 2007

    Re #43

    I heard a woman on the radio talk about how she just thanks god that she was a few cars back from crossing the bridge when it collapsed, and she praises god for all the people being there to help. I couldn’t help wondering if god really saved some people and not others, so I slapped a quick poll up on my blog to see what my friends think. Of course, the sample size is inevitably small and probably biased, so I’m not sure how valuable the information will be in the long run.

    It always amazes me how people can be this short-brained. Is it even remotely possible that people are there helping out of simple human decency?

  68. #68 DSM
    August 3, 2007

    California, last time I checked…has a REPUBLICAN Governor!!

    ROFLMAO!!!! Ah-nold is a Republican when it comes to some fiscal matters, but he’s very much a liberal in social matters.

    And do you honestly think the governor runs everything exclusively? The California legislature is very much Democrat.

  69. #69 SteadyEddy
    August 3, 2007

    I bet Republicans secretly want the roads to deteriorate enough to where they’re the only ones that can use them- in their Expedition-, Denali-, and Hummer-grocery getters. Selfish bastards. Has anyone forced Pawlenty to address his gas tax veto since the collapse?

    On a whim, I changed my haircut appointment to 1630 that day, otherwise I very well could have been on that bridge to meet an 1830 appointment. So I went across that bridge, bumper to bumper, just a little after 1600 (vs. a little after 1800). I feel very fortunate, but I’m not thanking god. He was too busy meddling with other people’s lives at the time.

  70. #70 MartinM
    August 3, 2007

    ROFLMAO!!!! Ah-nold is a Republican when it comes to some fiscal matters, but he’s very much a liberal in social matters.

    Because it’s not like fiscal matters have anything to do with road maintenance.

  71. #71 K. Engels
    August 3, 2007

    Everyone knows that Ah-nold doesn’t actually read the plans put in front of him, he just picks a number… “I pick 3.”

  72. #72 Kseniya
    August 3, 2007

    Archgoon:

    Claiming that withholding a vote is comparable to withholding payments on a bill is ludicrous.

    Indeed. But where did I claim that?

    Explain how me saying “we cannot then arbitrarily decide on an individual basis to withhold” is equivalent to me stating that we’re “pretending that we can”? I should think that “we cannot” is a pretty definite statement.

    Perhaps you misunderstood what I meant by “Yes.”

    Other than that, I agree with what you say. There’s no guarantee our elected officials will follow through on campaign promises. That much is painfully obvious, and hardly seemed worth mentioning.

    Loc:

    But with communications expanding exponentially, I hope for a better forum than a HS gym to hold these issues so certain aspects of “townhall” meeting can be brought to larger governing entities.

    Yeah. Interesting thought. Maybe we can try out a pilot version of that on something with less gobal reach or importance – like, say, an ongoing televised talent show.
    :-)

  73. #73 Loc
    August 3, 2007

    Yea…lets start it. I can say the alphabet backwards!

  74. #74 Pablo
    August 3, 2007

    BTW, folks, if you think that infrastructure issues are too often ignored and we need to focus on them more, you should listen to Rachel Maddow on Air America (evenings from 6 – 8 pm Eastern). She regularly talks about the importance of infrastructure, and has done so long before this or Katrina.

  75. #75 Kseniya
    August 3, 2007

    Sigh.

    California has a similar profile to Massachusetts. Republican guv, Dem legislature. (Until recently, anyway. Until Patrick was elected, MA has a Repub guv as far back as I can remember.) I think people may believe having a fiscal conservative up top will keep taxes at a tolerable level, but having a more liberal legislature will help ensure that overall services won’t go to hell and that the necessary amount of money will go where it’s needed: that is, to the individual voter’s district.

    This should tell us something about a) human nature and b) the obvious difference between the characteristic fiscal policies of each party. Fiscal conservatism tends to yield budgets that disfavor human services and infrastructure maintenance. However, any parties or persons who enable the adoption of these budgets are culpable for the results. In that sense it is, in states like MA and CA, very much a bipartisan (as opposed to non-partisan?) phenomenon. I can’t speak for Minnesota.

    It’s not clear to me that any of this has anything specifically to do with the bridge collapse. Isn’t the jury still out on that? (An answer of “yes” doesn’t mean that topic of infrastructure maintenance is inappropriate. The relentless finger-point, however, might be. I really don’t know.)

  76. #76 archgoon
    August 3, 2007

    My pardons Kseniya. Apparently by ‘Yes’, you meant ‘No’.

  77. #77 archgoon
    August 3, 2007

    With an appropriate “however” attached to the no. (rather than a “yes” with a however attached.)

  78. #78 uncle frogy
    August 3, 2007

    < >

    If by republicans is meant the rich than no. Why? because it is the rich who benefit the most for the upkeep of the infrastructure without which commerce would grind to a stop no increase in commerce no wealth.

    If is meant the resentful “conservative voter” then yes. Not speaking German I could not understand the rise of the Nazism until I was forced by work to ride around in a truck listening to what my “boss” wanted to listen, Rush the hypocrite. Then I could understand that it was really easy to do just feed the common mans resentment of “others” and than point at anyone else and blame them true or not.

    business wants lower taxes to maximize short time gains

    “resentful voters” do not want to pay for someone else’s “benefit” i.e. roads, schools, medical care, retirement, or anything else you can name.

    those politicians who seem to get elected more often do not try to sell the “public” on the greater good, responsibility and benefits of those things but much easier get elected by not doing so

    the result is what we can plainly see today.

    mounting national debt
    crumbling infrastructure
    a mounting healthcare “crisis”
    a failing education system
    a growing retirement problem
    and an intractable foreign war

    and general distrust of government and politicians

    Does anyone see it differently, help me out show me how to see it in a better light.

  79. #79 Kseniya
    August 3, 2007

    Archgoon: Yes! I think you’ve got it. Sort of a “No, not really, but…” :-)

    It’d be silly for us to bang heads on this, cuz I’m sure we pretty much agree on the principles and realities.

    I answered Caledonian’s question, for Caledonian, in a way I thought might give him a chuckle. The question was in two parts:

    do your societies permit you to withhold your resources from the pool,

    .OR.

    does it take those resources by force if you try to withhold them?

    The answer to the second part is clearly “Yes”, therefore the answer to the whole question can only be “Yes”, regardless of the first part is answered. (Sophomoric, perhaps, but there it is. Heh.)

    My answer to the first is “Yes, but ONLY in the sense that we have some limited voice in determining, before the fact, approximately how much will go into the pool and what it may be used for. Otherwise, no.”

  80. #80 archgoon
    August 3, 2007

    Kseniya:

    And to think that I thought I was the only one to be obnoxious enough to actually mess around with ORs. Serves me right for not reading carefully enough. :)

    For those arguing that California should be thought of your typical republican run state because of Arnold, I’d like to point out that at the moment the California republicans are in a bit a revolt against Schwarzenegger at the moment with regards to the California budget.

  81. #81 Sonja
    August 3, 2007

    Since no one has mentioned it yet, I blame Reagan.

    I’m so tired of him being lionized. I’m picking Reagan because that was the first time I learned about this country’s infrastructure crisis and the deficit of “deferred maintenance”. Yes, the Reagan years racked up huge deficits by turning over our treasury to the rich and the weapons manufacturers. But these deficits were much larger when the cost of deferred maintenance on our country’s road, bridges, dams, etc. were included.

    I blame Reagan because he made it acceptible and mainstream for people to believe that the role of government is to cut taxes for the wealthy, cut government spending (except for the military-industrial complex), and run up deficits. Bush and Pawlenty are just more of the same.

    And it’s sad (and ironic) that Minnesota, the only state that never voted for Reagan, Bush I or Bush II, had to experience the tragedy to finally bring the issue to light.

  82. #82 pumpkinpie
    August 3, 2007

    St. Paul! St. Paul! The Republican convention is in St. Paul! Boy, we always get overlooked…..We’re the *twin* of Mpls, not the little sibling!

    (I plan to be on vacation that week.)

  83. #83 Kevin
    August 3, 2007

    Rick Perlstein has a blog (not sure the address, called “The Big Con”) that has been dealing with this for quite a while now. He calls them “E-Coli Conservatives” and has been particularly paying attention to sink holes and infrastructure failure around the US. He has been hammering home at this point, the no taxes conservative platform and how it is ruining the country.

    His main point is one that should be picked up by more progressive blogs. It isn’t the failure of Bush or the Republican Party. It is a failure of the entire conservative foundation, the idealogy that says taxes are bad, government is bad, and things would be better without them. I believe the entire infrastucture of the US is rated a D-, and one only needs to look at Katrina, the New York pipe, weekly stories of sinkholes opening up and swallowing people and buildings, and now this bridge collapse to see that this is a much bigger problem then the media is making it.

  84. #84 lawilson200
    August 3, 2007

    Raising taxes to keep the bridges up in Minnesota is bad, but raising taxes to pay for a new baseball stadium for the Minnesota Twins is good. Did I understand this correctly? What good is a new baseball stadium if the roads are falling apart?

  85. #85 Kseniya
    August 3, 2007

    Kevin, those are signs of the Return of the Old Ones.

  86. #86 thalarctos
    August 3, 2007

    Kseniya, you mean we’re going to get some grownups in government and the media for a change? Cool!

  87. #87 Graculus
    August 3, 2007

    Would it be too crass to post billboards of the ruins of this bridge and the caption “No New Taxes”

    Well, I vote “coffee on monitor”.

    It’s a certifiably crass and wonderful idea.

  88. #88 DSM
    August 3, 2007

    Because it’s not like fiscal matters have anything to do with road maintenance.

    And if, like in California, the legislature is funneling money into liberal social projects with Ah-nold’s approval… Well, it’s still the Republican’s fault, because Democrats are never to blame for anything.

  89. #89 DSM
    August 3, 2007

    Folks, why not just admit that this isn’t a partisan issue. Everyone takes some of the blame, so it’s pointless to point fingers. Besides, while you’re pointing fingers, nothing is being done. Why not withdraw that finger and instead help out by wrapping it and your other fingers around a shovel (figuratively speaking)?

  90. #90 Kevin
    August 3, 2007

    But it is a partisan issue. When one party is obsessed to the point of taking oaths to never raise taxes, and then the starved government can’t afford proper maintenance, it is a partisan issue. It is the complete and utter failure of the conservative ideology.

  91. #91 Caledonian
    August 3, 2007

    Peculiar that the same groups of people that complain so loudly about the abuses of corporations are so enthusiastic about “pooling resources” in the form of governments.

    They’re essentially the same thing, only on different scales. Governments also tend to reserve rights to themselves that corporations (usually) don’t have. The basic principle of the thing is the same, though.

    Regarding the middle class – sure, it still exists, but you have to look at the trends.

    The original point that everyone was so concerned about was that the poor don’t pay taxes. Any shift in taxation practices that doesn’t affect the poverty threshold will inevitably affect the rich and not the poor.

  92. #92 MAJeff
    August 3, 2007

    The original point that everyone was so concerned about was that the poor don’t pay taxes. Any shift in taxation practices that doesn’t affect the poverty threshold will inevitably affect the rich and not the poor.

    Let’s assume that the disaster takes place in one of the states that does not have an income tax (yes, they do exist), and instead decides to increase revenues through a sales taxes hike. In such a case, the poor would definitely be paying taxes, and the hike would have a disparate impact on them.

  93. #93 sil-chan
    August 3, 2007

    archgoon: The databases are kind of publicly available. You can get access to them from the Library of Congress, but mostly cities keep them on file and up to date. There are a lot of places that sell access as well, and there are public web sites that give access to it (in a rather cumbersome format).

    As for the bridge being listed as structurally deficient, it has been at least 2 years. The database I looked at had it listed as inspected two years ago so I said two years. I have since read in a newspaper, however, that is has in fact been listed as such since 1990.

  94. #94 ????? ??????
    August 3, 2007

    Caledonian is simply jealous of my awesome moustache! That explains his nutty political arguments.


    ????? ??????

  95. #95 ????? ??????
    August 3, 2007

    Caledonian is simply jealous of my awesome moustache! That explains his nutty political arguments.


    ????? ??????

  96. #96 Caledonian
    August 3, 2007

    In such a case, the poor would definitely be paying taxes, and the hike would have a disparate impact on them.

    Doesn’t affect food. Everything else necessary can be acquired quite cheaply.

  97. #97 Caledonian
    August 3, 2007

    In such a case, the poor would definitely be paying taxes, and the hike would have a disparate impact on them.

    Doesn’t affect food. Everything else necessary can be acquired quite cheaply.

  98. #98 Robin Levett
    August 3, 2007

    DSM

    Would it make any difference to your argument if the Californian bridge to the story of which you linked was being built at the time – ie represented new investment in infrastructure – rather than collapsing because of poor maintenance as a result of reduced investment in infrastructure?

  99. #99 Stephen Wells
    August 3, 2007

    Did Caledonian really just claim that the poor don’t play taxes? Last time I did a tax return everything after the first couple of grand was taxed. Maybe he meant that the destitute don’t pay taxes?

    Personally I’m with Thomas Paine on this one. Wealth is an effect of society, and we all owe something back to society.

  100. #100 Foo
    August 4, 2007

    And what about the $1B spent on light rail that only delivers minimum-wage workers from downtown Minneapolis to the airport and the Mall of America?

    Ah, yes. That was the DFL-controlled state House and Senate, signed by the lunatic in the feather boa.

    I wonder what that $1B could have done for the roads and bridges, instead of building an underutilized, overbudget rail “system” with one line and three stops?

  101. #101 MAJeff
    August 4, 2007

    Doesn’t affect food. Everything else necessary can be acquired quite cheaply.
    Posted by: Caledonian | August 3, 2007 09:41 PM

    Have you ever been poor? Christ, I’m so sick of deciding which bills can wait a month, of thinking of a haircut as a luxury, of all those little things. And I’m so sick of sanctimonious middle-classers who think they’ve got a fucking clue.

  102. #102 gwangung
    August 4, 2007

    Doesn’t affect food. Everything else necessary can be acquired quite cheaply.

    Depends on the state. And everything else DEPENDS.

    Anything else you want to look foolish on?

  103. #103 Robin Levett
    August 4, 2007

    Foo

    I wonder what that $1B could have done for the roads and bridges, instead of building an underutilized, overbudget rail “system” with one line and three stops?

    Would that be the seventeen station, within budget $715.3m Hiawatha line that has been exceeding its traffic forecasts that I find on Google?

  104. #104 j.t.delaney
    August 4, 2007

    And what about the $1B spent on light rail that only delivers minimum-wage workers from downtown Minneapolis to the airport and the Mall of America?
    Ah, yes. That was the DFL-controlled state House and Senate, signed by the lunatic in the feather boa.

    I wonder what that $1B could have done for the roads and bridges, instead of building an underutilized, overbudget rail “system” with one line and three stops?

    Wow.

    If a minimum wage worker can budget to live in downtown Minneapolis, then they are economic geniuses… After all, what business do working-class people have at airports and malls, anyways? Surely, you would rather pay white-collar employees six-figure incomes to clean toilets, shovel snow, wrap sandwiches, and load and unload airplanes? Or, are you making an arguement for a hourly wage that will afford entry-level service workers to buy SUV’s? That doesn’t sound very “fiscally conservative” to me…

    Let me guess: you’ve not familiar with the housing market in downtown Minneapolis, are you? Likewise, let me make a second guess: you’ve never been on the Hiawatha line, have you?

    Unfortunately, the Hiawatha rail line really is one just line (you got that part right), but it makes seventeen stops (not three), and ridership has been double the originally expected volume (9.6 million passenger/year.) Hopefully, the Hiawatha line will be the first of several to connect the cities again (downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul would be really nice.)

    Once upon a time, roughly 50 years ago, the Twin Cities had a world-class street car system that was efficient, reliable and cost-effective. Unfortunately after WWII, it was decided that highways were the wave of future, and it was scrapped. As it turns out, highways aren’t a very cheap solution either, and require more maintenance than Republican governors are willing to spend.

  105. #105 Caledonian
    August 4, 2007

    of thinking of a haircut as a luxury

    They ARE.

    Anything else you’d like to look foolish on?

  106. #106 j.t.delaney
    August 4, 2007

    It’s the responsibility of the people to ensure that their resources are used properly – and that requires withholding their resources from a pool if the people who expend the pool aren’t worthy of doing so.

    So, in your system, if an individual decided they disagreed with how the government was running things, regardless of the circomstances, they should not be expected to pay their taxes, and everybody else should be fine with this? Neat. “Sorry, I’m not paying taxes this year. You see, I’m just too high-minded and idealistic to buy into that sort of thing. I’m sure the rest of you will understand…” This is the same gambit Kent Hovind tried to pull recently, and I think most reasonable people found it unpersuasive then, too.

    So: do your societies permit you to withhold your resources from the pool, or does it take those resources by force if you try to withhold them?

    “Your societies”? Well, I can’t speak for everybody, but when it comes to tax cheats, “my people” (i.e. tax-paying permanent residents of Planet Earth) tend to get a little angry about that sort of business, since the rest of us have to cover the costs of their free ride.

    To get a clearer idea of what you’re describing, be sure to book your next vacation to a tax-free, small government Libertarian paradise like Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau or Somalia, where basic services like bridge construction, public sanitation, and public security are handled by “The Invisible Hand”. There are plenty of young, red-blooded entrepeneurs taking up the noble profession of “road maintenance”, and I’m sure paying these keen businessmen for the priveledge of passing their way will be a uniquely empowering, life-affirming experience, which will fill you with a sense of appreciation for the human individual, as well as hope for the future. Let us know how it all grabs you…

    It’s remarkable that you can’t tell good government from theft-by-force.

    One could say the same about you…

  107. #107 Zarquon
    August 4, 2007

    of thinking of a haircut as a luxury

    They ARE.

    Anything else you’d like to look foolish on?

    Not when you can be fired for being untidy.

  108. #108 Sean
    August 4, 2007

    Personal grooming done professionally is a luxury and a choice.

    Scissors and a mirror. A friend or relative and a pair of scissors. Both work quite well for only a small initial investment which can be shared and prorates to near nothing.

  109. #109 Kathryn Cramer
    August 4, 2007

    In response to the bridge collapse, Stephen Wolfram has written a blog post on how to design better bridges (though not on how to design better Republicans).

  110. #110 MAJeff
    August 4, 2007

    What a suprise, classist asshole libertarians who think poorp people are simply below them and need to be taught how to live.

  111. #111 Stephen Wells
    August 4, 2007

    I’m still reeling over his “Stalinist collectivisation proves that you can’t share resources” shtick. In other news, people have been known to drown in too much water, therefore nobody can be allowed to drink water.

  112. #113 Caledonian
    August 5, 2007

    Oh, people CAN share resources profitably. But when people are being forced to, the group doing the forcing is unlikely to be utilizing them properly.

    More to the point, simply throwing one’s resources into a communal pool is a poor way to manage them. It takes more than community spirit to invest resources wisely.

  113. #114 Loc
    August 5, 2007

    simply throwing one’s resources into a communal pool is a poor way to manage

    I don’t think that’s the solution either. But again…I don’t think ANYONE thinks that.

  114. #115 Caledonian
    August 5, 2007

    I don’t think that’s the solution either. But again…I don’t think ANYONE thinks that.

    Considering that there’s a great enthusiasm for collectivism and socialism here, but little concern for the feedback processes necessary to keep a society functioning and healthy, it’s clear quite a few people DO think that.

  115. #116 Robin Levett
    August 5, 2007

    Caledonian

    Disdain for “Fsck you, I’m all right Jack” as a political manifesto != “Socialism”

    (PS – bowdlerised to avoid automatic moderation)

  116. #117 Caledonian
    August 5, 2007

    “Fsck you, I’m all right Jack” != ANY political manifesto

    Which is to say, that may well be the attitude of some people, but it’s not the basis of any political system, theoretical or practical.

    Proclaiming your concern for your fellow human beings while not concerning yourself with what leads to actual benefits leads to incalcuable harm. “Let people suffer, as long as I can flatter my ideological prejudices” isn’t the basis of any political system, either – but it’s an extremely common attitude.

  117. #118 Robin Levett
    August 5, 2007

    Caledonian

    Your political manifesto had seemed indistinguishable from “Fsck you Jack, I’m all right”, but maybe I’ve wronged you.

    So perhaps you could identify the uniquely “socialist” and “collectivist” positions that apparently many commenting on this blog are enthusiastic about. I note your view stated immediately above that no government that levies compulsory taxes can possibly be using the taxes thus raised wisely; presumably therefore anyone advocating compulsory taxation is a socialist? Or are they just a collectivist? And where does Stalinism come in this spectrum, or is there no spectrum? Does socialism=collectivism=stalinism=compulsory taxation? Do you actually know what socialism is?

  118. #119 ?. ?. ?????
    August 5, 2007

    Caledonian is merely upset by the fact that my socialist state lasted for about 80 years before collapsing. Caledonian’s ideal libertardian state wouldn’t last 80 DAYS without imploding.

  119. #120 ?. ?. ?????
    August 5, 2007

    Caledonian is merely upset by the fact that my socialist state lasted for about 80 years before collapsing. Caledonian’s ideal libertardian state wouldn’t last 80 DAYS without imploding.

  120. #121 karen bademan
    August 12, 2008

    I dislike the word retard .

  121. #122 Ben
    December 11, 2008

    Does anyone have an update on this issue?

  122. #123 Nick Gotts
    December 11, 2008

    Tax cuts have to be for the rich – poor people don’t pay ‘em. – Caledonian

    You’re either an idiot, or a bare-faced liar. Sales tax, for a start.

    Peculiar that the same groups of people that complain so loudly about the abuses of corporations are so enthusiastic about “pooling resources” in the form of governments. – Caledonian

    The difference is that (in democracies at least) we get to vote for the government.

    It’s remarkable that you can’t tell good government from theft-by-force. – Caledonian

    What’s really remarkable is the existence of so many halfwit “libertarians” who can’t tell the difference between theft-by-force, and taxes legally levied by an elected government.

    little concern for the feedback processes necessary to keep a society functioning and healthy – Caledonian

    And your evidence for this is…?