Monday, August 06, 2007

Collapse of bridge in Minneapolis, USA

There are 70,000 bridges in the USA. One bridge in Minneapolis collapsed last week, killing a few people. Some are still missing.

Is this an isolated incident? A bad accident?

Apparently, it seems that the condition of many of the bridges are unsatisfactory. There is a wider problem.

Many years ago, it was considered to be the duty of the government to provide the public works and utilities. There was no issue about the costs (although the government do manage them quite prudently). These public expenditure were considered to be necessary and beneficial.

The priority changed during the past 20 years. The governments tried to adopt business principles, using cost-benefit analysis. Some of the expenditures were reduced, as they were felt to be unnecessary. Some activities, e.g public transport and hospitals, were privatised to be runned by profit-driven entrerprises.

The outcome was a deterioration in the quality of the infrastructure and public services in many countries. There was a focus on cutting costs and increasing profits, instead of the public interest.

I hope that there will be a change in thinking, and that governments will move away from the concept of adopting business principles for public service.

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