A Bridge Too Far

By Miles Leicher

“You know, we do a lot of complaining here in America. And that itself is something they can’t do in a lot of other countries.” –Bill Maher

Bill’s right; we tend give America a fair amount of shit, but it’s out of love. It’s because we’re trying to do our part in order to form a more perfect union. It’s also what sets us apart from all those shows about cake. And, most importantly, it’s because we’re allowed to. And not just HBO-allowed, but Constitution-allowed. Not only is it our right, it would be rude not to.

Look, if someone offers to let you punch them in the stomach as hard as you can, and you refuse, it implies that you don’t think they can take it. Whereas, the polite thing to do is sock them in the gut ‘til they piss blood, and then feel bad because they don’t have health insurance. At least that’s what I learned during my cagefighting days down in Mexico. Really, we just like watching America flex.

So when Bill says things like, “I understand we’re on our way to being a Third World country – could we just stop at Second World before we get there?” he’s not rooting for America to fail; he’s just rooting for America to not become Ethiopia. Because we like America. It’s the bee’s knees. The United States is one of those rare places that it’s both nice to be from and nice to live in. And, as Alexandra Pelosi said on our last episode, “the American Dream has people in every other country all over the world still wanting to come here, to live here.” Apparently they didn’t hear about our bedbug problem.

Okay. Now that we all agree that America is, like, the awesomest, I’ll say this: maybe it’s time for us to be a little more like China.

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Now hear me out. Sure, they are governed by straight-up Second-World Communists with a finger glued to the censorship button and an unhealthy obsession with children’s sports, but China’s also got some really cool stuff going on right now. And not just for people who get boners when they think about bullet trains, like Joe Biden. And me.

For one thing, they’re investing the sort of money in their infrastructure that we should be in ours. Here in Los Angeles, we’re all losing our damn minds over “Carmageddon,” which is the plan to close a major freeway for two days in order to knock down a bridge. Not to be confused with “Karmageddon,” which is when Buddha returns to Earth for the final battle between good and evil. Anyway, in contrast, China just finished building the world’s longest sea-bridge, which stretches 26 miles across the Qingdao bay. Meanwhile, our big news is that we’re blowing something up before it falls on us.

“But Miles,” you say, “What about the Bay Bridge up in San Francisco that we’re re-building. Talk about that, you red bastard.” Oh, all right. But we’re not building a bridge up there. We’re assembling one. The 2.2 miles worth of bridge decks and materials that will eventually connect Yerba Buena to Oakland are actually being built in China, then shipped the 6,500 miles to California, where they’ll be pieced together like a dresser from IKEA. I believe the epithet you’re looking for is “Cräp.”

Basically, we got lapped. We’ve spent the last ten years handing our money over to the richest people in our country at the expense of our roads, our schools and our pride. We cut taxes and started wars while China invested in infrastructure and technology. Now they’re exporting their civil engineering expertise in high-speed rail (shwing!) to places like Brazil and their bridge building abilities to places like here. And you thought it was bad when they cornered the market on sneezing baby pandas.

Just to be clear, I don’t think we need to be exactly like China. I think it’s important to pay workers more than $12 a day. I like that we don’t need to have nets outside of our buildings to catch sad employees. I don’t want to be good at Ping-Pong. But I do think that we ought to recognize that China’s investment in their infrastructure is now paying dividends. And as Americans, we have both the responsibility and the freedom to demand the same for our country. That way, come Karmageddon, Buddha will be happy.

What lessons would you have us learn from China? Infuriate Republicans by leaving a comment below!