COLLAPSED BRIDGE IS JUST ANOTHER SIGN OF "THE LOSER SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT" DRIVING AMERICA TO BE A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY
By Kevin Stoda
Having lived in a 3rd world country (Nicaragua) and in several semi-developed nations (Mexico, the UAE and Kuwait) over the last three decades, I have observed with astonishment and dismay the U.S. federal government's lack of forward planning (& lack of interest in maintaining infrastructure) and its promotion of bad priorities for quite some time. This malfeasance is exemplified by the U.S. footing the defense bill of all defense contractors and defense subcontractors (etc., according to the Washington Post and other sources, to a tune of a trillion dollars a year) around the globe--at the loss of American jobs and the cost of continued social and building infrastructural short falls in the U.S.
The recent collapse of a major bridge on a federal river plain and on a major interstate highway this past week in Minnesota reminds us all again of what we already had noted in the wake of the Katrina Hurricane: The U.S. federal and state governments have been driving America into underdevelopment and disaster at a speed never experienced before in 3 centuries of American history.
In April 2007, I wrote an article, called THE LOSER SCHOOL OF GORVERNMENT STRIKES AGAIN, about the tarnishing of America's image and integrity abroad, i.e. as a supposedly fair-handed & less-corrupt-than-most-nation, and how this tarnishing continued in the wake of a series of business scandals, including the leadership debacle at the World Bank under Paul Wolfowitz. I noted at that time that the current image of the American government abroad could be likened to the modeling of a species of global free-tradism that should be known as the "Loser School of Government".
I could write a book about how this "Loser School of Government" (2000-2007) has malfunctioned and destroyed more and more of the former memory around-the-world of America being a well-run country and a land where businesses and governments know how to work together, i.e. for the benefit of all.
The attack on the poor and the middle class, for example, in the last 7-years has been unheard of in the country's history.
Moreover, over the last 5 decades, the federal government's sustained attack on the providing of minimum guarantees to workers, investors, and national infrastructure, in turn, has hurt the basis of good governance at the local and state levels which small- and medium sized businesses and farmers across the land rely on. However, in the case of the bridge catastrophe and the Katarina devastation, it is also clear that local and state governments have also certainly fallen short-due to lack of federal funds being shared by taxpayers at both the national and state levels in the USA.
Finally, the reliance on greed and private sectors to keep America's standards high has fallen flat on its face--as the I-35 Bridge Collapse showed the world. Recently a DEMOCRACY NOW program focused on this failed but popular trend in America to privatize our public highways through federal government under-funding.
Daniel Schulman co-authored a MOTHER JONES article with James Ridgeway entitled "The Highwaymen: Why You Could Soon Be Paying Wall Street Investors, Australian Bankers and Spanish Builders for the Privilege of Driving on American Roads". They both spoke about the article.
The DN piece started out by noting that the "American Society of Civil Engineers estimates it would take nearly $190 billion to fix more than 70,000 bridges deemed 'structurally deficient.'"  Here is an excerpt of their dialogue that indicates where the privatization process has been heading the infrastructure in America:JAMES RIDGEWAY: Well, you know, it's all in process. I mean, the thing is that the major Wall Street investment companies are trying to link up with various international partners in Australia, in Spain, elsewhere, to essentially buy this sort of decaying -- or infrastructure that is in need of repair. And this is -- you know, it's appealing, as Dan, I think, mentioned. It's appealing to the local politicians, because it looks like they're getting some cash from these guys on Wall Street, and they're not going to have to raise taxes to fix the roads, and there's the illusion that sooner or later these roads will get fixed. Now, you know, whether that happens or not is like anybody's guess, because when this actually takes place, when the actual improvement of the roads is done, it's going to be when all these politicians are dead and gone. AMY GOODMAN: Daniel Schulman, in the piece, you write, "Fifty years to the day after Ike put his pen to the Highway Act, another Republican signed off on another historic highway project. On June 29, 2006, Mitch Daniels, the former Bush administration official turned governor of Indiana, was greeted with a round of applause as he stepped into a conference room packed with reporters and state lawmakers. The last of eight wire transfers had landed in the state's account, making it official: Indiana had received $3.8 billion from a foreign consortium made up of the Spanish construction firm Cintra and the Macquarie Infrastructure Group (mig) of Australia, and in exchange the state would hand over operation of the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years." And it goes on from there. Talk about the political climate. How did people in Indiana, how did Hoosiers feel about this? DANIEL SCHULMAN: People were absolutely -- I went to Indiana shortly after that, and people were absolutely outraged. If you travel that toll road even now, I think, and talk to people, they still don't understand why this road that really is part of their, you know, cultural -- it's just like the rest of the roads in this country, we really feel a deep affinity for them -- why this is in the hands of a foreign consortium. And some of it is xenophobia. Some of it, they don't want foreigners running their roads. But some of it is also, they've got -- you know, they've asked really hard questions about this. "Are we getting a good deal?" And, you know, frankly, a lot of people are saying no.
You cited the figure before that some say that Indiana -- over the life of this contract, the road could have generated $11 billion. So that's a $7 billion net loss for the taxpayers of Indiana. No, people in Indiana are outraged, and elsewhere, too. You've seen in New Jersey recently, there was a backlash against the potential plan to privatize the New Jersey Turnpike, which some said could bring in as much as $20 billion. I was driving that road recently, and there was a big sign, a big billboard, you know, against this privatization plan, and the plan has been pulled at this point." 
LONG TERM GOVERNMENTAL VISION
Admittedly, the trend in America over the past decades has been to fill the different offices of congress in D.C. and our state houses (across the land) with examples or models of the "Loser School of Government"-so, the current demise certainly predated the current administration.
This administration, however, sought to use spending (and withholding spending) as particularly strong tools to speed up the collapse of major governmental departments and to discourage them from meeting their objectives. The hope in doing so has been to increase calls for privatizing ever more sectors of government responsibilities.
Further, more than any of its previous administrations, this federal government sought to fill federal (and eventually state offices) with people tied only to the largest industries and businesses in the land-neglecting the needs of medium and small businesses in terms of capitalizing infrastructural needs. Namely, the firms and the wealthiest investors who most benefit from good state and federal infrastructure ( i.e. the largest companies) have refused to support brave candidates who want to equitably fund and manage good government.