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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Made In China: A Bridge California Couldn't Afford To Build, Because It Went Broke Paying Unemployment Benefits

The next time that crappy thing you bought that was made in China breaks after a few uses, consider this:

The Bay-Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland is being replaced because officials have determined the span was not sufficiently quake resistant. It was sections of this bridge that collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. The total cost of the replacement will be $7.2 billion, making the span one of the most expensive structures ever built. Nearly bankrupt California decided not to apply for Federal funds because of "Made in America" provisos, thereby allowing the California Department of Transportation to accept bids for cheaper steel from overseas. CA DOT's plan is to pay for the bridge using bonding and tolls.

The two American companies that are building the bridge in a joint venture contracted with a company in China to produce twenty-four steel modules that will be fabricated and shipped and then placed on the superstructure by American labor.

Tony Anziano, a program manager with CA DOT said “They’ve produced a pretty impressive bridge for us," after touring the manufacturing facility near Shanghai.

It's important to note that the following quote was not reported in the American media, I tagged it from the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia: ''I don't think the US fabrication industry could put a project like this together,'' the project director for the American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises joint venture, Brian Petersen, said. ''Most US companies don't have these types of warehouses, equipment or the cash flow. The Chinese load the ships and it's their ships that deliver to our piers.''

Pan Zhongwang, a 55-year-old steel polisher, is a typical Zhenhua worker. He arrives at 7 AM and leaves at 11 PM, often working seven days a week. He lives in a company dormitory and earns about $12.00 a day. ''It used to be $9.00 a day, now it's $12.00,'' he said last week, while polishing one of the decks for the new bridge. ''Everything is getting more expensive. They should raise our pay.''

California saved approximately $400 million on fabrication costs by outsourcing to China. According to a Los Angeles Times report on November 6, 2010, California was spending $40 million a day on unemployment insurance disbursements, which equals $14.6 trillion a year, or $400 million in ten days. Now I'm no genius, and I don't like government meddling in the private sector, but I'm thinking California could've developed their own internal bridge building conglomerate for, I don't know, $1 billion, and saved maybe $8 billion in unemployment disbursements.

So basically, America is not capable of producing the oil to power the vehicles we can't produce that drive over the bridges we can't build. Yet America is capable of taxing people beyond their abilities to pay to help pay benefits for people who can't find jobs.

All I can say, is you people better start considering who you vote for more wisely because we've obviously lost our way.

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