|The 'Golden Gate"|
“We’ve lost our ambition, our — our imagination, and — and — our willingness to do the things that built the
Obama, 2011. Golden Gate
He was likening our failing ability to get things done as a people unwilling to commit to big Federal projects. The problem is the
was not one of them. Golden Gate Bridge
In fact, it was the ‘One Percenters’, as is the term coined of the rich and powerful these days, that built the Golden Gate, not government. More importantly, it was government that posed more obstacles for the building of the bridge than any other entity and if the Department of Defense had their way it never would have been built at all.
Some basic research into the building of the bridge indicated that the original architect of the bridge, Joseph Strauss (who also designed a bridge to be built over the
faced numerous obstacles from government after his original proposal to them in
1921. Several years earlier the government had done a study about building a
bridge in those waters and had come to the conclusion that it was impossible to
build a bridge from the city to . San Francisco
City Engineer Michael O'Shaughnessy had requested the Marin
and Geodetic Survey to make soundings of the channel bottom. The U.S.S. Natoma
completed the sounding of the channel in May 1920, and after receiving the
Natoma's survey data, O'Shaughnessy consults engineers from around the country
about feasibility and cost. Many say it cannot be done, and if it can be the
cost would exceed $100 million. The idea was then shelved until Strauss
comes forward with his design. United States Coast
O’Shaughnessy, Strauss and others form a special commission to look into the building of the bridge. It takes them years of wrangling with the government until 1923 when they finally get the state to agree to a meeting in
to finally decide the feasibility of the bridge. The Department of Defense
(then called the Department of War) kicked and screamed saying that the bridge
would be dangerous and block the channel from ships going in an out of the
Presidio base. Since the DOD owned the land on either side of the channel,
there was no way to build it without Federal approval, and they refused to grant it. Santa Rosa
After another year of wrangling, and some heavy support from the fledgling automotive industry lobbying (yes, they had lobbyists back then too), the DOD finally relents and allows construction of the bridge, but only sells the land back to the state commission and does not participate in its construction.
Construction did not go as smoothly as planned. It takes another FIVE years for the government and the architects to come to agreement on the design. Furthermore, Federal contractor unions wanted the contracts to build the bridge and stalled the government on the issue, demanding they take action to halt construction unless they got the contract. Fortunately, local authorities insisted that as part of the contract only local labor would be used instead of Federal union contracts, insuring the area had work during Depression era unemployment.
A second problem in 1929 when the US Stock Market collapsed made for more problems. The Golden Gate committee now has trouble issuing the bond needed for the construction of the bridge, even though the citizens of the surrounding area had put up their own personal lands and farms as collateral. It takes 3 more years and the wealthy President and founder of Bank of America, A.P. Giannini, to personally buy the 35 million dollar bond which he then finances through the bank. Without the bank and the intervention of private industry fueled by personal wealth, again the bridge would not have been built. By 1937 the bridge is completed—and Strauss delivers the bridge 1.7 million UNDER budget, using local non-union labor and private contractors.
is not a symbol of government planning or a government project—it is a bridge
built DESPITE government setbacks and government intervention and is the sole achievement
of individuals working in and with the private sector to overcome these obstacles. Golden
The worst part is that Obama never figured that out when he either wrote or was handed that speech. Anyone with a good understanding of what built this nation would have immediately rejected that sentence out of hand, but Obama embraced it with relish. Why? Because of his natural distaste for private industry and his liberal sensibilities which have overcome his love of country.
The telling part of this speech was not Obama’s love of Federal planning and projects as has been expounded upon by many pundits, but of his hate of American capitalism and what made America great—the strength of individual achievement and private industry, not government.
One last thing-- the DOD wanted the bridge painted black with yellow stripes instead of International Orange. They still considered it a safety hazard after it was built.