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07 August 2011

Dam, Rachel Maddow

MSNBC is promoting Big Government, and Rachel Maddow jumped on board.  In her 30 second clip, Maddow boasts the glories of public works projects like the Hoover Dam.  This leads me to believe that Maddow chose to promote something about which she doesn't know a damn thing....  That, or her values are waaaay off base from what she otherwise promotes.

"You can't be the guy who builds this.  You can't be the town who builds this.  You can't even be the state who builds this.  You have to be the country who builds something like this.  This is a national project."

Yeah.  Well, ahem, tell that to Frank Crowe, the Hoover Dam chief engineer -- without whom the project would never have been completed.  Hell, without the water-cooling pipes in the concrete, the concrete would still not be fully hardened today.  Also, did you know that people died during the construction of the Hoover Dam?  And attempts to unionize the workers were stamped out?  Funny how Maddow just glosses over that part.  (OR, could it be that she wants new public works projects to literally mimic the Hoover Dam?)

The government sold the Hoover Dam (then named Boulder Dam) contract to Crowe and his privately owned "Six Companies" outfit.  Crow couldn't afford the price to place a bid on his own, so he gathered investors ("Six Companies").  The idea of building a dam for this river was not new.  The government sold the rights to build the dam to the lowest bidder, Crowe, who also had the reputation for finishing projects ahead of schedule.

The story of the Hoover Dam is not a story of Government doing something amazing.  All the government had to so was write the $600 million dollar check ($50 million then).  To the lowest bidder.  That is pure capitalism at its finest.

There were no special favors or deals regarding who got the contract.  There were no investigations into which political parties the contractor's company had supported.  Crowe was free of virtually all regulations that stifle capitalistic growth today.

I'm not saying that all regulations are bad, nor am I saying that Crowe was an angel.  He ignored some regulations that put men's lives at peril.  He did not hire Chinese workers.  The workers were segregated.  Different teams of workers were separated and pitted against each other....  But this was all done in the name of progress and "public works", no?  Do you think the dam could have been completed under today's union rules and government regulations?

When wages were lowered and workers went on strike, Crowe not only held his ground and refused to give in to their demands, he also booted a thousand presumed union agitators.

Also, people died when making the Hoover Dam.  Did you catch that?  People died.  Rachel Maddow is celebrating a project that was completed at the cost of human life.

Please note:

  • People died during construction while Crowe's leadership, ingenuity, and capitalistic drive (and his staunch eye set upon the end goal and bottom line, regardless of the cost to his workers) awarded him a $5 million government paycheck.  ($5 million of today's money.)
  • Crowe disregarded state regulations, resulting in men being "gassed" (poisoned).  
  • Crowe's workers looked up to him, some staying with him from job to job for twenty years.  
  • Crowe's attitude was that he would help you (by giving you a job), but keeping it was up to you.

Was Crowe a bad man?  I don't think so, but I don't know.  He was an engineer.  He was a capitalist.  He was a brilliant engineer that made the made the Hoover Dam possible.  To erase Crowe's role, for better and worse, from the creation of the Hoover Dam -- as Maddow has done -- does a great disservice to the man, the dam, and the real America that made it all possible.

It was the government that built the Hoover Dam.  It wasn't the state.  It wasn't the town.  It was the guy.  Sure, the government gave him the money for the materials, but the rest was up to Frank Crowe.  You don't credit Edison's investors for the lightbulb.  You give that honor to the man, to Edison.  You don't credit the government for the Hoover Dam.  You give that honor to the man, to Crowe.

Upon his death, The American Society of Civil Engineers said
"His projects will stand forever as monuments to his great ability as a constructor, but he will be best remembered by his many friends and close associates for his ever-present human understanding, his extreme fair-mindedness, his wonderful sense of humor, and his absolute integrity -- once his word was given it was carried out, no matter what his personal sacrifices might be."
Today's government may be too mighty for Crowe's level of ambition and production.  Today's workers might not be willing to take dangerous risks for food, fame, and national development.  Today's Americans might be unwilling to unleash the shackles that bind innovation and prevent innovators from saving us from ourselves.  All of that may or may not be true.  But don't you dare take credit away from the individuals who made real American progress a reality.  Don't you dare forget the great minds that made it happen.  Don't you dare float responsibility to the government, who never had to get their hand dirty.  Lastly, don't you dare gloss over the realities of the day -- the different working conditions, the different laws, the different regulations, the different workers' expectations, the different public perception of ambition/greed.

If you value unions, you cannot value the Hoover Dam.  If you are unwilling to lift today's environmental regulations, you cannot value the Hoover Dam.  Hell, screw valuing it.  If you want to have contradictory values, that's all on you.  But don't you dare force the highest level of market restrictions ever known by this county onto its market -- and then say that projects like the Hoover Dam will save us.

The Hoover Dam simply could not be built today.  For all of the the new innovations that have developed over the past century, they are not enough to overcome the regulations and laws.  A modern day Hoover Dam is simply impossible.  Did you hear that, Maddow?  It is impossible.  Your PSA is a crock, and you are "leaning forward" into a chasm of impossibility.  When you fall, don't grab America by the ankle and pulls us into despair alongside you.

But, yeah, don't pay attention to history, or to facts.  Listen to Rachel Maddow instead.  She's wearing a hard hat in her clip, so that means she must know what she's talking about.  The Hoover Dam is too mighty to be attributed to the great mind of a single person; it must be credited to the nation.  I mean, she's wearing a hard hat.  It must be true.

(If Rachel Maddow does this good of a job researching the accurate story for a pro-govt PSA, imagine how good of a job she must do when researching facts for her own show on MSNBC...)