Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Freedom Bridge.

In October this old covered bridge joining the communities of Upper Stone Ridge and Morehouse Corner in New Brunswick was burned to the ground leaving only a treacherous hilly road joining the two. The residents were outraged as it appeared that this old covered bridge, like so many others, had been the victim of arson.

Now the residents of Upper Stone Ridge are outraged once again, the government of the province has decided that the dangerous road link will provide sufficient ingress and egress from the tiny community and the bridge will not be replaced.

Now as petty as the Government of New Brunswick appears to be in this case, $275,000 being a drop in the proverbial budget bucket, what annoys me most is that not a single resident has suggested that the residents or the business's of the town get together to build the bridge themselves.

I grant that in our heavily taxed society that we as citizens ought to be able to expect that government would provide such a necessary link (otherwise why are we paying them so much money), but obviously we can't. The reason is simple political economics, the government doesn't give a rats ass about some tiny backwater village, it won't cost them the election next time around and therefore the wishes and requests of that small minority are unimportant.

Sorry, those are the facts, that is the deal our social contract has become. Big = important, small = ignored.

So what are these people to do? Apparently the choices they have accepted as of now are.
  1. Suck it up
  2. Bitch and moan and in the end suck it up
So what happened to option 3? The one that says when the government won't provide then the private sector or private funding will? Like they used to do it in the old days.

Apparently that idea hasn't crossed anyone's mind. But what if it did...

Could the people of Upper Stone Ridge and Morehouse Corner pool their resources and build their own bridge? Sure, why not it always used to be done that way. In the old days it was the need for the thing that was the impetus to get it done, not the will of government.

So for arguments sake lets say that they did build the bridge, well then they would have to pay for it, and the most sensible method of payment would probably be by toll. Now seeing that the bridge would in fact be private property then no police car, ambulance, fire truck or any other vehicle would be entitled to cross without paying the toll...

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Right. All those agencies which according to the article claimed that "the bridge wouldn't affect the service given to the public" would have to spend more money to go the long and dangerous way around or pay to use the private bridge.

In the end it's up to the people of Upper Stone Ridge and Morehouse Corner to see if the idea is workable, if it is viable or even preferable. But given ownership of some suitable land, the construction of the bridge ought to be the choice of those people affected, and outside of the power of government to dictate.

My advice to the people of Upper Stone Ridge and Morehouse Corner is to build it. Take charge of your own lot in life, and when the government comes calling, when Constable Joe or Postal Worker Jim want to use your bridge tell them to pay up or piss off.

And if you build it... I'll definitely go out of my way the next time I'm in that part of New Brunswick to pay your toll and salute your claim of freedom

Picture courtesy of New Brunswick Covered Bridges Blog

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