Why don't they build bridges like that anymore?

My parents and I were marveling at the pretty Pittsburgh bridges, and expressing our disappointment that the new Innerbelt bridge in Cleveland is so ugly and utilitarian. My dad, I think, wondered “why don’t they build bridges like that anymore?” and his subtly veiled answer was “There’s not enough competition. Nobody cares anymore. And the government is controlled by a bunch of corrupt cronies.”

My subtly veiled answer was “There’s too much capitalism. We don’t value enough besides money and efficiency. Someone else undercuts the beautiful bid with something cheap but crummy, and in a desire to save a buck, they go for the cheap one.”

Huh. Both could pretty well explain this particular case. I guess this is the danger of building in simple, vague demons into your world view.

I do think, if we as a society want pretty buildings, we should prioritize that and build it into our plans for bridges etc. Which means they’ll cost more, and we have to be okay with that. Which means we should pay more taxes, and we have to be okay with that.
Or, maybe we’re not collectively okay with paying more taxes because so many people are struggling to get by. In which case, we should admit that the US is lagging far behind some other countries, mostly in Europe, and see what they’re doing right that we’re not.

Of course, I just introduced a few more simple, vague demons! Maybe I’ll go back to making burritos.

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