Among other projects vying for money in the catch-all pork binge known as the bonding bill is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (MSG), the landmark park just southwest of downtown Minneapolis. The organizations that run the MSG seek $2 million already approved by the Minnesota Legislature to reverse years of deterioration from age and heavy use in the MSG.
It is always ironic to see the sorts of needs that manifest themselves with large projects following their completion, particularly when government gets involved. The life cycle of events in the MSG story sound all too familiar in the context of large, bureaucratic enterprises.
To understand these issues, it is important to know that it begins with the large bureaucracy, almost out of hubris, spending immense time, talent, and treasure to raise something truly impressive, such as the MSG. Then, without fail, the impressive project is deemed finished and is never touched again, usually out of forgetfulness or hope that the project will somehow be maintenance-free. No arrangements or allowances are made for the dull and mundane tasks of fixing wear and tear since 1) those tasks do not draw the same glory or attention of the finished project and 2) the added expense would cause electorates not to support reelection efforts.
However, when it does come time to do any maintenance or repair, it is always too late and never the money to do it.
All of these things should make the public ask about the sustainability of any project undertaken on its behalf with their money taken from them under pain of civil and criminal penalties. Are many of these large, impressive projects raised only to become unaffordable to maintain, thus dooming the projects to lives of languishing and decay? Would anybody else in their right mind create any of these things on their own, knowing the prohibitive expenses associated with upkeep?
If these projects are indeed unsustainable as described, why are elected officials permitted to undertake them?