Monday, October 5, 2009

CI #24 -- America's Crumbling Infrastructure

On a handful of occasions, I've encountered the same ideas (dare I say themes) in some far-flung and unexpected places. I'd call it Fate, but I doubt Fate has the time or inclination to insert bull fighting into my life three times within one month (September 2006: Almodovar's "Talk to Her," The Sun Also Rises, and some short story not easily recalled from The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005.)

That happened again last week, this time with coal ash, which apparently is pretty much the worst substance ever. My first encounter with coal ash was on a 60 Minutes follow-up about the 2008 incident that spilled toxic coal ash all over Kingston, TN.

The second came when I watched the History Channel special "The Crumbling of America," aka "The least sexy two-hour programming block ever to be broadcast." You laugh now, but what about when the decades-old water main beneath your very feet starts to crack, causing runoff to mix with waste from a hog lagoon, in turn allowing harmful bacteria to leak into the water supply, KILLING ONE THOUSAND BUNNIES IN THE PROCESS!!!

That might as well have been the tone of the show -- sensible and scary as hell on its own, but way over the top in execution. Long story short, we're screwed but not necessarily immediately. Our bridges, canals, levees, damns, overpasses -- you get the idea -- are way out of date and, guess what, funding for maintenance for these projects is disappearing faster than the public option.

The problem is, infrastructure isn't sexy. Most people don't care to think about it, and fair enough. But I'm wondering (cq) Is there a way to make infrastructure sexy?

No, regardless of what Fergie says.

Coincidentally, Happy 100th birthday to the Manhattan Bridge.

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