Tuesday, September 4

Depreciation Lacks Constituency

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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?

7 comments:

Thomas said...

Couldn't agree more. I seem to be fortunate, living up here in Sweden. "Only" No. 8 in the list of richest countries in the world, but certainly a great sense of living together - and hence taking care of things.

Your photo - as usual - makes even that ruins look gorgeous and special.

...Friday is approaching, hm? I'll certainly keep my fingers crossed!

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

First, and foremost, That photograph could consume hours. Thanks for the new hobby, blast you.

Secondly, democracy in any group larger than two is a disease. Thankfully we live in a constitutional republic, and there is some small hope in that.

Bread and circuses my friend.... bread and circuses. The main goal of most governments, ours included, is to gather power and grow itself, Not to protect the general welfare and provide for common defense.

As long as the 'public' chooses to be satisfied with bread and circuses, government may do as it pleases to reach it's goal.

So a bridge falls.... all the better to feed the goals..... new laws, more government, higher taxes..... 'for the children'.... yippee!

I am in such a pessimistic mood this afternoon....

Nice photo though, thanks for sharing.

Ted Byrne said...

(Thomas) I'm off to Italy early next month and I'm anxious to get a sense of this question of upkeep versus depreciation. I think it is human nature to avoid shoring up the bridges until someone hears a splash. Bad human nature mind you... but sort of natural.

(Art) Actually the photograph took only an instant... but the image... ahhhh... the image took more time. Actually I try to strictly limit myself to no more than seventy five minutes from the time I open a photo for post processing until I have finished the posting here on ImageFiction. Which includes writing the text. As for the distinction between democracy and constitutional republic, point well taken... until you try to accomplish something and discover that the smallest group can stop it :)

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

I meant it could consume hours of MY time, looking at it.

Image vs Photo, point understood.
Nice work, either way.

If you don't mind the questions...
What pixel density and format do you shoot in, for a photo such as that?

pnfphotography said...

awesome image...and powerful topic indeed....

Thomas said...

I'm not sure, whether Italy will be a real improvement... Certainly not its southern part.

And yes, general "human nature" for the most part. But heavily influenced by cultural heritage. And maybe that's what makes the difference.

John Roberts said...

All true, but nice, shiny, new, modern bridges aren't nearly as interesting to photograph as this one. I guess that's a selfish viewpoint, but then, selfishness is the root problem, right? So much in one photograph!