We just don't know anymore. The French can build a bridge across an enormous valley, and it's a thing of beauty. We can't even keep our bridges in place.
And people die.
A friend of mine asked me recently, "how long did it take to span the country with a new railroad? And how long is it taking to build a rail line from Tacoma to Seattle?" A distance of about thirty miles. We spent seven years arguing over the cost of putting in a monorail that everyone but the political leaders in Seattle and King County wanted, had five votes on it (the first four all came out a resounding "yes!"), and the last vote was a no because they were going bankrupt. Probably due to all the political infighting to keep the project from coming to fruition. And now we find out that the Light Rail alternative (which we didn't want, but is what we're getting), will be more expensive than originally planned. Duh.
And now, a bridge over the Mississippi has collapsed, taking something like fifty cars and their occupants with it. A bridge that in 2005 was judged to be substandard (but not a danger, yet). The Democratic legislature in the state of Minnesota had brought an infrastructure spending bill to the governor (a Repugnican), who vetoed the whole thing because of a 5-cent/gallon tax increase. He could have line-itemed that out, but he chose to veto the entire bill.
Shrub was doing his press-confrence thing after the collapse, and immediately went into blaming the newly-elected Democratic Congress for not passing the spending bills that were due (and none of which would have affected whether this particular bridge would have stayed up). He also pointed out that the legislature is going into summer recess without having passed the bill onto him yet. This from a President that has spent more time on vacation than any other President in history.
It seems to me that we, as Americans, have abdicated all responsibility for everything. We don't fix things, we don't build things (unless it's private enterprise, of course). We sit back, hiding behind our hands, and hope that the problems that we think might be coming down the pipeline won't affect us, but maybe the next guy. And we wait. We need a president who is willing to tell us not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear. It's pessimistic and unpleasant, but until someone in a leadership position gives us and the Congress the scolding we so richly deserve, this country will fall apart, one piece at a time, and we'll sit back, and watch it all on CNN.
Until, of course, our own roof caves in. "Gee, how did that happen?"
I'm no better. I work my ass off to make enough money to be pretty comfortable. My job sends me all over hell and gone, so I can't reliably volunteer for anything, unless the folks involved are really understanding. Most people are worse off than I am. But we keep electing people who tell us happy nonsense. I saw a bumper sticker on a guy's car this morning that said, "Proud to be American."
I'm not anymore.