That quote has been attributed to Mother Jones, the feisty Irish-born labor activist/agitator who made her mark in history during the late 1800’s. It seems appropriate given the events of the last few days in Minnesota.
At 6:05 PM, Wednesday, August 1, 2007 the I-35W bridge across the Mississippi River collapsed-carrying with it it’s precious cargo; everyday citizens going about their normal business. Tragically, lives have been lost and many others were injured, physically and emotionally. Recovery efforts continue, the investigation of the cause of this bridge failure has started, and plans for rebuilding are in the works. This catastrophic event has generated a lot of interest and debate about the condition of bridges across the nation. The national media is giving the bridge issue a lot of air time now but I fear they will tire of it and move on to the next ‘big story’. That would be tragic.
The infrastructure issue is more than just highway bridges. Our roads, schools, communications, energy, water and other public resources have been ignored for to long. We need real leaders to tackle this and push for an aggressive effort to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. Not the Governor Tim Pawlenty type that vetoes a transportation bill that was supported by business, labor, cities and counties, and others throughout the state. As citizens we need to have a grassroots effort demanding an investment in our future. Correcting the infrastructure deficiencies of the past will require massive amounts of money but it will also create untold thousands of good paying jobs and opportunities. If politicians really want to help the poor, the working class, the small businessman, and hell yes, even the rich, here is the opportunity.
When I-90 was built across southern Minnesota it provided an opportunity for my father. He moved his wife and four young children to the small town of Beaver Creek, Minnesota. There as an independent agent for a major oil company he serviced the construction equipment that was being used by the companies building the road. It was hard work. There were long hours. But this opportunity provided for his family and helped him establish his business. Later, when he made a career change, he became an employee of the State of Minnesota as the manager of the Travel Information Center located on I-90. After a successful career there he finally retired with a good pension and health care benefits. He now resides in the Veterans Home in Luverne, a state run facility built with federal, state, and local dollars. Do you get my point yet? Investment in public infrastructure has had a profound and positive effect on the life of my father and his family.
At the beginning of this post I mentioned Mother Jones. I like to think that if she were alive today she would be asking, no demanding we fix our roads and bridges, fix our schools, fix our public infrastructure. Mother Jones would be fighting for the living. Shouldn’t we do the same?
Peace & solidarity,
Workday Minnesota has a special section devoted to coverage of the I-35W bridge collapse here.