Let’s begin with the necessary caveat that advocates and government agencies have incentive to make problems seem critical and to make increased funding seem to be the solution. That said, Alex Kuffner’s reporting for the Providence Journal does raise a red flag worth noticing:
Environmental organization Save The Bay blames the disrepair of the state’s dams on inadequate staffing in the dam safety program, a problem that plagues the DEM as a whole, resulting, the Providence-based advocacy group argues, in a diminishment of the agency’s enforcement capabilities and an increased threat to public safety.
“We are literally one storm away from loss of life,” said Kendra Beaver, staff attorney with Save The Bay and a former chief legal counsel at the DEM.
So, here’s the next question we must ask: Where is all the money going? The state has a $10 billion budget. Rhode Island must be doing something wrong if the condition of dams has reached the point of near certain catastrophe.
To be fair, Kuffner’s very long article does moderate Beaver’s assertion, but in doing so, it only amplifies the relevant question: What’s the point, if it isn’t the need for more resources? And that brings us back to: Where is all the money going?
Read mainstream news stories for long, and you’ll become very familiar with the “here’s a problem in need of more taxpayer dollars” genre. Maybe what we need is more skepticism about what the priorities of government should be.