America Should Go Wireless

<b>Andy Rooney</b> Thinks Poles And Wires Are Marring America's Countryside.

This segment was originally broadcast on Oct. 9, 2005.

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney.

We all talk about how much we love nature. You don't hear anyone saying they love the city better than the country. Even though we profess affection for nature, though, we keep driving out wild animals, plowing the fields, damming the rivers, carving out our mountains to build roads up them and cutting down most of our trees.

It would be wrong, though, to condemn everything we've done to alter what the Earth looked like before we started changing it because some of the changes we've made have improved on nature.

Many of our bridges are magnificent. The Hudson River between the towering buildings of New York and the great rock Palisades of New Jersey looks twice as good with the George Washington Bridge spanning it.

The Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1869 and it's still one of the best-looking things on earth. The Golden Gate Bridge enhances the beauty of a beautiful area, San Francisco.

Some of our cities are better looking because of the great buildings we've put up in them - New York, Chicago, Los Angeles. Philadelphia.

All this is an introduction, though, to a complaint I have about what we've done to the land we live on.

How in the world did we ever allow the power companies and the telephone companies to disfigure our landscape with their tangle of wires displayed on 50-foot tall poles? New York City has laws barring these monstrosities, but that's rare.

Eighty percent of the cities in the United States have no restrictions on putting up wooden poles with wires and cables hanging from them.

They dominate our skyline. If there are good, natural, full-grown trees in the path of the pole-borne wires, power companies regularly disfigure the trees by cutting holes in the foliage. They chop off limbs to let their wires through.

Wires bring us the magic of electricity and voices from far away. I know that, but 90 percent of the time they should be buried and invisible. Instead, they're what we always see looking up.

Power companies argue that it's too expensive to bury wires and cables. Well, it's never too expensive to do the things that absolutely ought to be done.

Everything these days is wireless. I should think it won't be long now before we can do away with overhead wires. Maybe we could build log cabins for the homeless out of old telephone poles.

By Andy Rooney