Friday, July 2, 2010

A Nation Lost in the Woods and Stupid


Call me strange and suffering from a multitude of character flaws but there are times I find the putrid smell of American politics irresistible. Usually I grovel in the verbal political emissions of my own pomposity at someone else's blog making comments on current events since I increasingly find delving deeply into the meat of some subjects deeply depressing. I offer the routine political activities of elected officials here in South Carolina as my prime example. Digressing just a little here but most sane people would be upset at all the attention the local and state media paid when our Appalachian Trail walking governor and his cougar ex-wife, both attending a political function, hugged and kissed before running away from each other to the farthest corners of the auditorium they happen to be sharing. Given how the media covered it you would have thought their ceremonial appearance culminating in the brotherly and sisterly hug and kiss had some political significance.

However, since the proverbial squirrel that runs the little spinning wheel in my head, which supplies the wattage to my feeble brain, has up and gone on vacation I'm stuck pondering the state of the American economy and the lack of real action to address unemployment. Barring divine intervention, a huge number of Americans will be out of work for a number of years which really is not good for anyone but here is Bob Herberts take on the subject:

"Fifteen million Americans are unemployed, according to the official count, which wildly understates the reality. Assuming no future economic setbacks and job creation at a rate of 200,000 or so a month, it would take more than a decade to get us back to where we were when the Great Recession began in December 2007."

Wow!!! More than decade to replace the jobs lost since the beginning of the Great Recessions, seems like that might be a great time to come up with some sort of national plan to prime the job creation pump. But what could we possibly do that might justify a huge public works project that would ultimately pay huge national benefits down the road justifying the cost? Could we send humans back to the moon for exploration and scientific inquiry? No, it would be really super duper cool as far as I am concerned but realistically its national benefits are rather abstract. Could we go on some international crusade of nation building in some poor third world country bringing the benefits of democracy and consumerism? Never mind, finishing one such project and going back to square one on the other, neither is supplying warm fuzzies and the money spent on both countries would have been better squandered loading it up on Air Force cargo planes and using it to bomb those nations directly into affluence.

Hey here is a radical idea, let us all get together and develop a national project that nation builds this country. But why would we want to do that you might ask? Well I'm damn glad you did sir and or ma'am. Unrecognized by many Americans preoccupied by the importance of who Tiger Woods was screwing, whether the president was born in Kenya and is secretly a Muslim, or if Blago's hair is real and the outrageous comparisons he makes of himself to truly great people makes him insane but our national infrastructure if graded has the GPA of your average college football linebacker. Click on the report to link over to the American Society for Civil Engineers.

Aviation D

Bridges C

Dams D

Drinking Water D-

Energy D+

Hazardous Waste D

Inland Waterways D-

Levees D-

Public Parks and Recreation C-

Rail C-

Roads D-

Schools D

Solid Waste C+

Transit D

Wastewater D-

America's Infrastructure GPA: D

Now we did not get this way overnight and it would be useless and counter-productive to fling partisan mud but honestly that is all American politicians are really good at these days. But I will again let Mr. Bob Herbert address how this situation was an opportunity that was squandered:

"Mr. Obama and the Democrats have wasted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity handed to them in the 2008 election. They did not focus on jobs, jobs, jobs as their primary mission, and they did not call on Americans to join in a bold national effort (which would have required a great deal of shared sacrifice) to solve a wide range of very serious problems, from our over-reliance on fossil fuels to the sorry state of public education to the need to rebuild the nation's rotting infrastructure.

All of that could have been pulled together under the umbrella of job creation — short-term and long-term. In the immediate aftermath of Mr. Obama's historic victory, and with the trauma of the economic collapse still upon us, it would have been very difficult for Republicans on Capitol Hill to stand in the way of a rebuild-America campaign aimed at putting millions of men and women back to work."

Now I am not here to throw stones at a man that has to endure the extreme hate and the vilest of venom on a daily basis nearly amounting to a racial lynching but yes, he did screw the pooch on this one. Before anyone gets upset, I am in NO WAY saying that senile McCain could have done any better. In fact, a sick part of my mind would have loved to see how McCain would have handled the same issues and the mess he would have made of them. Having VP Palin walking around offering her advice would have been even more uproarious but that would approach a level of sadism uncomfortable to me.

President Obama is a very intelligent man dealing with a whole host of crises that the little shit who occupied the White House before him either created or made far worse. Still President Obama wanted the job and campaigned like a bat out of Hell on "change" and the idea that "yes we can". For that reason I was highly pissed at the guy when he flew down to the Gulf coast, suffering from the worst ecological and societal disaster in American history, walked around for a couple of hours without talking to the locals only to rush back to the White House so Paul McCarthy could serenade Michelle and the kiddies. No, he can't don scuba gear, swim down a mile, and stick his finger into the ruptured well but dammit he can at least seem a little more involved.

The vice president does have a nasty habit of inserting his foot and the better portion of the attached leg down his mouth but a recent statement he made about the jobs the country lost to the Great Recession never coming back is true. A "patriotic business person" is real close to an oxymoron so depending on them to do their duty and help bring back any jobs is like expecting Santa to save the day for us.. Watch any of the cable business news channels and it's all about profit and keeping the stockholders happy, which usually means transferring the good manufacturing job that pays enough to build a family to some country where the workers are paid next to nothing.

There are new green industry jobs and new technologies that hold promise but they are years away from employing meaningful numbers. This is where the short and medium term opportunities involved in rebuilding our infrastructure could have bridge the difference until those new green industries came online. And like Mr. Herbert said, the Republicans would have been slitting their own throats to oppose a plan that would have created so many jobs and at the same time leave huge and lasting benefits to the country. Curse me if you want but given how the "recovery" is showing signs of faltering, I believe there is a real chance the president and his team could force-feed such a plan down Republican throats even now, as oppose to living with the 1000 pound gorilla of continued high unemployment.

Truthfully my biggest fear is not the failure of our elected officials but a people who are deeply divided and apathetic. A recent NPR report I heard suggested that a re-engineering of the Mississippi River that would again allow the river to deposit the sediment it carries to the Louisiana delta building up the marshes and barrier islands both cleaning them out of oil and increase the protection from hurricanes, such a mammoth project would provide jobs to that ravaged area. Apparently, the sediment has long been dredged and flushed straight out to sea to aid shipping resulting in heavy erosion of existing barrier islands and increasing the hurricane risk to inland areas as they islands decay and marshes are destroyed due to development. After making a comment on the website about how cool it would be to kill several birds with one stone benefiting everyone I was surprised at how many Gulf locals later complained on the same website about how such a project would hurt their narrow concerns.

I understand how the project would disrupt existing lives that but it did remind me of something I read many years ago. Please bear with me now because I promise I am coming to a conclusion but as part of a global strategy game I owned back in the 1980's supposedly a retired CIA analyst wrote a report to go along with the game explaining the behavior of nations in seeking power and prestige. The reported essentially stated that a country could have huge supplies of natural resources, advanced technical expertise, and money but it was all nothing compared to national will. If there was no sense of national unity or willingness to sacrifice for the greater good that country, even with all its other advantages, was royally screwed. I'm afraid that is the current condition of the United States, yes our patriotism is a mile wide but only inches deep. We have epic problems and everything we need to face and defeat them but all we seem able to do is sit with our thumbs up our asses and whine.


22 comments:

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Double b, I had 3 main complaints against the stimulus bill. 1) It contained no payroll tax holiday (something that would have given much more purchasing power to the poor). 2) It DID contain a tax rebate (something that Mr. Bush tried and something that simply blows a bigger hole in the deficit. And 3) there wasn't enough emphasis on infrastructure. We have bridges and schools all over the country that are severely under frigging code. Fix the sons of bitches, I say.

David Barber said...

Beach, I'm not great when it comes to politics but what I do know is, whatever the reptilian bastards tell you, they mean the exact opposite and then some. Our new gaffers are in the process of throwing us right back into an even bigger recession than the one we were supposedly climbing out of.

There was even talk of them putting a new 'law' into power where they can't be voted out of parliament any time soon. (Don't know if that came off because I stopped listening about 5 seconds into the report.) It would mean a general election can't even be called if they are really fucking it up, which is bound to happen beacause that's what they are all good at.

What countries need is to have someone in power who has actually lived a "normal" life, without being born into money and going to private school etc. These politicians don't know about everyday life, or if they do they don't give a toss.

Regards mate, David.

PENolan said...

I'm struck by the idea of National Will juxtapositioned with image of a nation of supersized gluttons riding in gas guzzling SUVs to Independence Day barbecues where they can stuff themselves with lard, salt and high fructose corn syrup.

I have faith that little by little more individuals will think globally and act locally until we all live in a peaceable kingdom Not in my lifetime, but still.

Jack Jodell said...

Beach,
Great job on listing and grading our response to the many major problems we face. We so desperately need near-immediate action on all of these fronts, but we are indeed mired in apathy and division. Corporate America has become so greedy, self-centered, and short sighted that they have thoroughly corrupted government and business alike and are destroying the country to meet their end of quarter goals. They, together with the GOP, have sabotaged our recovery. Both hate Obama to an unnecessary and unreasonable degree and are acting as saboteurs to ensure his failure. These are very dark and perilous days for our country.

Tim said...

Maybe I'm a little under the weather,but right now I'm thinking we done screwed the pooch. I think it's to late to fix anything. Obama had his chance and from my perspective had bad advisers. I think he's a very good man with the weight of the world on him. His priority was skewed. Soon it will be the Republican's chance to screw us and I'm sure they will. The good thing is we'll all have guns to blow our brains out.
This weekend as you know is the firth of July and I couldn't be more depressed. What the hell do we have to celebrate. Were good at Wars? We have empathy for the less fortunate? We are environmentally friendly? What exactly are we number one in, oh yeah crime..
Some would say to me, if you don't like it leave.. My response would be okay....

TomCat said...

Beach, this is great analysis. All the economic growth of the Bush/GOP regime, before the Republican Recession hit, was on Wall Street. We have been chasing paper profit with no true economic value, while ignoring real growth and maintenance that has true economic value. I have the same beefs with the stimulus package that Will expressed. But watering down authentic stimulus was the price it took to keep the GOP from blocking it.

We need to invest heavily in research and development for tomorrow's manufacturing and green energy opportunities. In the meantime, we need to invest heavily in infrastructure to jump provide employment now and keep our nation from crumbling.

Liberality said...

We are screwed as a country. And we deserve it for getting fatter and dumber year by year. Sorry, that's not very patriotic is it?

Beach Bum said...

Will: You what puzzles me is that both sides talk about fixing the infrastructure they know is falling apart but somewhere along the way if anything is done the scope is very small.

David: "What countries need is to have someone in power who has actually lived a "normal" life..."

Damn straight, most of these buttholes don't have any idea what its like to actually work ofr a living.

PENolan: Like I said at your place, I figure Mother Earth will force us to correct our behavior. The only problem is that both the good and the bad will suffer.

Jack: "Corporate America has become so greedy, self-centered, and short sighted that they have thoroughly corrupted government..."

Which is amazing because I still remember being taught as a child that you could not get something for nothing. You would figure that highly educated corporate types would understand that even more but like you said its all about greed. Greedy human nature is far more scarier and damaging than any serial killer could every hope to be.

Tim: I completely agree, the United States is just an empty shell of what it once was, truthfully I hear tons these days of how we are great for what we once did, next to nothing about what we can do or will do to stay great. Of course that dove tails back in to corporate greed and wanting something for nothing and a people to self absorbed to know they are committing suicide.

Maybe the Chinese will be kind masters.

Tomcat: For me it always comes back to the corporate types that are screwing us all with their fake games with money. The republicans are just mindless lackeys hooked like junkies to "easy money" and racist nightmares that originate back to pre-Civil War times of slave uprisings. The constant fear as they lay in bed hearing the slaves sing that slaves might slit their throats at night and then rape their wives and daughters.

Liberality: Don't worry, I'm not very patriotic these days myself. In fact for the last several years some part of my mind keeps screaming as I watch the news that I need to get my kids out of this country because the lemmings are approaching the edge of the cliff. I truly feel something very bad is coming.

Vigilante said...

Mr. Obama and the Democrats have wasted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity handed to them in the 2008 election. They did not focus on jobs, jobs, jobs as their primary mission, and they did not call on Americans to join in a bold national effort (which would have required a great deal of shared sacrifice) to solve a wide range of very serious problems, from our over-reliance on fossil fuels to the sorry state of public education to the need to rebuild the nation's rotting infrastructure.

No guts, no glory.

Vigilante said...

I hope all of Beach's readers clicked on the graphic in the heading of this post: very 'graphic'!

Vigilante said...

Happy 4th, Beach!

Randal Graves said...

Fix infrastructure. Hmmm hmm heh heh ha ha HA HA HHHAAAAHAAAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Seriously, what's your politically (read: corporatist) viable solution?

Beach Bum said...

Vigil: For what it is worth Happy Fourth to you as well. Not celebrating here though, really whats the use? As far as I am concerned the only people celebrating should be the CEOs and other assorted corporate acolytes adn ass kissers since their monolithic entities were magically determined to be "people" by the Supremes.

Randal: Seriously? None my friend, the little people are screwed.

TomCat said...

It always comes down to that, because that's who the GOP represent.

Rhiannon said...

It seems the rick and "comfortable" are whining from the party of "no" including "no moving towards change, stay "stuck" in the past and stick with the "ole rules" blah blah.

As up mentioned going green and new technology and maybe active companies now and those "big CEO'S" working on new plans new ways for our nation to change, hire more people to make the change happen, get rid of dependence on oil, and other such "nasty" things...but alas the party of "no" who are going out of their extreme" way to try to make sure Obama's plan for change's don't happen..why? Not to help the economy or to help the people of this nation and not to help the country..but the part of "no" is only wanting to continue to make sure their money comes in from the same companies and lobbyist...so they can make more money...and the oil companies lobbying? Well I won't even go there.

The tea party needs to get their tea bags out of the hot water and trash them..and realize if we did all they wanted (or rather "go back" to the "older ways or stay "stuck" in the now, or whatever, we would lose everything..and this nation would have much more people in poverty and the other 2/3 would only be rich people.

I feel that bigots are trying to take over under the guise of the name "Tea baggers" who seem to have such a fear of a black man who is president and wanting "their white rights" for so called "Freedom" from taxes...raise the taxes on the rich...let's do it now..it will not hurt them, the selfish whining complaining big spoiled babies...money talks but tears and pain people look and turn the other way...we are now becoming as David Gilmore said "Comfortably numb"...

Hey BB did you hear and see the Jewel song and video my second post below the top one? I forgot to mention it's her song "Hands" and a great video that to me says a lot about humanity.

Waiting for this 4th of July to end"...I don't have much respect for my country..we are so behind of other countries because of our supposed wanting to have our cake and eat it too" and we are not willing to make the sacrifices we must in order to make the changes needed. We may become a 3rd world nation. "Superpower" USA my A**! more like super idiots if you were to ask me. People in this country thrive on anger and fear and most of all in the mode theme of "whats in it for me"...

Looking forward to Tuesday when we stop puffing out our chest with the holier than though "God bless America" I hate those signs and bumperstickers...every time I see one I think to myself why doesn't it just say "God bless the world"?..what makes us think we are any better than other countries on this earth...sigh...okay I could go on and on...sorry..


Blessings for a better day!

Rhi

Rhiannon said...

p.s. wow I just read my own comment above and I just cannot believe all my stupid typos...I sound like an illiterate person! Well, at least I can spell illiterate...go figure...weird.

So, don't feel alone on the typos BB...often I've met people that spell perfectly in person or on paper and they often seem to have the IQ of a nat..or ant...but then I have read and hear that ants are rather intelligent..they can carry a big load too!..:o)

Hope your 4th of July went well with the kids and wife.

Rhi

TomCat said...

I typo more than you do. :-)

TRUTH 101 said...

What you advocate would mean sacrifice, no matter how small it really is to those that have safe jobs. Or are in the higher economic classes.

Our nation is moved more by the words of movie characters like Gordon Gecko who said "Greed is good" than JFK wha asked not what our country could do for us. But what we could do for our country.

The pure selfishness and greed of the right has molded me into the character I am in blogdom.

Beach Bum said...

Rhia: You are fine, trust me my typos are far worse. Yeah, I'm glad the Fourth is over as well. looking forward to the kids heading back to school and cooler days. This summer is brutal.

Tomcat: I dare anyone to attempt to break my record on typos. If I didn't leave typos I probably did not write the post, although I do correct along the way.

Truth: "Our nation is moved more by the words of movie characters..."

LOL!!!!! That is so true, its very bad but true. I don't think a people can exist for long who think that way.

goatman said...

I am never surprised by greed, my friend!

Beach Bum said...

Goatman: That does seem to be the one true human constant.

Teresa said...

Back from vacation and checking in, and as usual I agree!