The Goring Of Whose Ox

by Curt Kovener

There are a good number of people in congress and the statehouse whose answer to all things financial is to cut government spending and not raise taxes.
They oppose those “job killing tax increases.” But I wonder if all taxes were cut, would I have a line of employers at my door with multiple job offers for me?
And in light of some events over the past few weeks, it has been interesting to hear some of the heretofore “cut, cut, cut” characters modifying their tune.
Gov. Daniels took quick action early in September when a main beam on the Sherman Minton Bridge was found to have a crack. He ordered the bridge immediately closed. Traffic that formerly used the I-64 Minton Bridge now adds to the traffic on the Kennedy Bridge on I-65 and the nearby Clark Memorial Bridge going into Louisville.
Engineers determined that the cracked beam was damaged shortly after the bridge opened in the early 1960’s. Hmmm…so how did Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) inspectors miss such an egregious crack for 50 years? And did it really require closure until it is repaired? I suppose if you don’t travel on that bridge it was safe enough for travel but those who do use it probably welcome the inconvenience of the better safe than sorry closure.
It will be Indiana government spending that will fix the bridge and get the traffic flowing again. Southern Hoosiers think it needs to be fixed as quickly as possible but folks in Lake, Allen and Marion County probably couldn’t tell you anything about the Sherman Minton. They probably don’t even know he was a U.S. Senator from Indiana.
About the only thing on Marion County’s mind is lamenting the Colts so far winless season.
Closer to home, the town of Crothersville just tentatively awarded a contract to update the town’s wastewater treatment plant. It will remove some of the surface water that flows to the sewer plant resulting in spills of raw sewage called combined sewer overflows.
At one time the conventional engineering wisdom was that it was good to have storm water “flush out” the sanitary sewer lines to keep our toilets and bathtubs draining. That was probably the same engineering wisdom that assured us in the 1950’s that Orangeburg pipe-essentially compressed tar paper formed into a roll-would make an excellent sewer line from your home to the sewer main. Everyone who has replaced their collapsed 1950’s product with PVC sewer pipe knows of the folly of some engineering ideas.
The local government is under a mandate from another government agency -IDEM-to reduce the rainwater flowing to the sewer plant and causing the raw sewage to flow down stream.
Interestingly, it is another state agency-INDOT-that is the biggest contributor to the surface water flowing to the sewer plant. Water flowing off US 31 south of town, surface water from homes and businesses, all flow north to a drain which takes it to be treated at the town owned sewer plant.
So one government agency (INDOT) prompts another government agency (IDEM) to force the town government to clean up its act. Lacking sufficient resources to do so, the town applied for and received a grant-a government grant.
No doubt, the folks living outside the town limits whose flushings flow into their own septic system would not approve of this government spending. But folks in town who have experienced flooding and sewer backups during periods of heavy rain would no doubt call it responsive government.
We can complain about government spending and demand that government spending be cut. But government does not manufacture a product and we can’t curtail production. All government is a service industry. They provide service to us, our neighbors, and neighboring communities.
To support cutting government spending is to cut the services we come to expect. So what do you want cut first? Sewer service? Bridge Repairs? Road resurfacing? Fire or ambulance service? Close the jail & lay off police?