Rich Tucker

But we can't agree to build new power lines to supply these technological wonders. Even in New York, where the lights went out just a few years ago, "No one wants massive towers and power lines cutting through the Upper Delaware Scenic River Valley, or their backyard for that matter," claims Rep. Maurice Hinchey. He's a Democrat who represents an upstate district and is fighting to block a project that would build a 200-mile power line from Oneida County to Orange County, New York.

A similar battle is happening in other states. For example, Dominion Virginia Power wants to build a 165-foot high, 65-mile long electrical transmission line to deliver energy to the booming Northern Virginia area.

Not so fast, say local politicians. "I don't believe we're in a crisis situation," Prince William County Supervisor Wally Covington announced at a public hearing. But we should be building new infrastructure before we reach a crisis. Why wait until there's another blackout? And, rest assured that if the power fails in New York or Virginia next summer, politicians will be the first to howl and demand hearings to determine "why this happened."

In many ways, Americans today are, to use Newton's phrase, "standing on the shoulders of giants." Earlier generations left us great things (such as the Brooklyn Bridge and an electrical grid) that were so well made we've been able to put remarkable demands on them and still use them today. But unless we relearn how to build such things for ourselves, we could be dooming future generations to a bleak future.

Shrinking the size and influence of government would be a good start. Note that it is politicians who're blocking new power lines, and government engineers who inspected the Minneapolis bridge each year and allowed it to remain in service.

Maybe if Americans were again made to feel that we needed to do things for ourselves, we'd surprise ourselves again with what we could do.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for