<- Click here
Curious thing about democracy. Voters want new things. Voters want low taxes. Maintenance is the residual. People have no sense of upkeep when they buy a bridge. They figure the thing's massive and made out of stuff that's eternal. Look at this bridge in front of the Pequea Yacht Club way down in rural southern Lancaster County. It spans the Pequea Creek just before it meets the Susquehanna river off stage-right in this image. I guess there's a marking around somewhere which gives the date it was erected. Judging by the iron work, I'm guessing sometime in the early part of the 20th century, about a hundred years ago.
Regardless, the skin's fallen away and the skeleton's hanging out. Only a minute or so before I took this photo, a school bus clanked over the thing. How long do you think before it drops into the creek? Or before a school bus summersaults down? The point is that governments in the United States generally lack a sense of what businesses call depreciation. There are no funds established when public works are created which will maintain them into the future. Each new generation launches a number of pieces of apparatus into a time stream where they sail through the ages. Unfortunately future generations fail to respect the gift, or even find it to be a nuisance - something that can sop up tax dollars they want to spend on new apparatus, or on payoffs for votes... their legacies are new bridges and smiling citizens.
There's no legacy in repair. No real bragging rights. No new plaques get pasted onto the sides of bridges. No new names go onto the things honoring the politicians who fixed the cancerous rebar. Not to worry, when a school bus gets dunked, panic will set in. And the President him/herself will fly to Pequea to promise federal dollars will be taken from folks in Texas, California, and the Dakotas among other places to rebuild this bridge over this creek. Lets me sleep at night here in the richest nation in history. You?