Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Home Stretch

Greetings good citizen,

Some things continue to amaze me and one of them is how some people can display such a firm grip on the problem only to reveal they are utterly clueless to the solution.

Sadly, tonight’s offering provides both as poignantly as imaginable. This piece is so spot on in identifying what is amiss with our so-called leadership and so clueless when it comes to the solution that it is a wonder his head doesn’t explode!

Um, when you get to the end of the piece you will be sure of one thing…one of us has a problem.

Without further adieu,

Welcome to tonight’s offering

Time Is Running Out

Published: February 5, 2010

Palo Alto, Calif.

We’ve now lost 8.4 million jobs in this recession, and a vast majority of them are gone for good. The politicians are clambering aboard the jobs bandwagon, belatedly, but very few are telling the truth about the structural employment problems in the U.S. and the extremely heavy lift that is necessary to halt our declining living standards and get us back to an economy that is self-sustaining. [This is perhaps one of the most colossal ‘open secrets’ ever perpetrated on an entire nation. To Mr. Herbert’s credit, he tells it like it is, instead of giving our politicians the ‘benefit of the doubt’, he rightly accuses them of lying, which they are.]

We don’t hear a lot that is serious about the sorry state of the nation’s infrastructure or the trade policies that crippled so many American industries. Or our inability (or unwillingness) to compete effectively with China(‘s) [Currency manipulation] when it comes to the new world of energy for the 21st century. Or our abject failure to provide a quality public education for the next generation of American workers, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs.[ Okay, that little bit of ‘mis-direction’ aside, the failure is not one of education but of opportunity, our economy wouldn’t be ‘broken’ if not for the greed of financiers! This is treason of the highest order!]

Speaking at a conference here on Wednesday, Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania said that if we don’t act quickly in developing long-term solutions to these and other problems, the United States will be already is a second-rate economic power now by the end of this decade. A failure to act boldly, he said, will result in the U.S. becoming “a cooked goose.” [What ‘bold acts’ do you suppose it will take to save the US economy? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?]

Neither the politicians nor much of the mainstream media are spelling out the severity of these enormous structural problems or the sense of urgency needed to address them. Living standards are sinking in the United States, and there is no coherent vision or plan for reversing that ominous trend over the long term. [Understand what this means good citizen, ‘welcome to the world’s newest ‘Banana Republic.’ Where the rich screw the poor with impunity!]

The conference was titled, “The Next American Economy: Transforming Energy and Infrastructure Investment.” It was put together by the Brookings Institution and Lazard, the investment banking advisory firm.

When Governor Rendell addressed the conference on Wednesday, he used words like “stunning” and “unbelievable” to describe what has happened to the nation’s infrastructure. His words echoed the warnings we’ve been hearing for years from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which tells us: “The broken water mains, gridlocked streets, crumbling dams and levees, and delayed flights that come from failing infrastructure have a negative impact on the checkbook and on the quality of life of each and every American.” [The ‘problem’ is much deeper than ‘incompetence’ and it’s important to recognize that capitalism itself is directly responsible for the decay. None of this will be fixed using the bankrupt politics of greed.]

The conference was sparked by a sense of dismay over what has happened to the U.S. economy over the past several years and a feeling that constructive ideas about solutions were being smothered by an obsessive focus on the short-term in this society, and by the chronic dysfunction and hyperpartisanship in much of the government. [Um, have you heard any ‘constructive ideas’ lately? I haven’t. We tried what the ‘Party of ideas’ laid out and it only made a bad situation worse, what other ideas are there?

I was struck by the absence of grousing and finger-pointing at the conference and the emphasis on trying to develop new ways to establish an economy that is not based on financial flimflammery, that enhances America’s competitive position in the world, and that relieves us of the terrible burden of reliance on foreign energy sources. [Ironically good citizen, even renewable energy won’t save us beyond the immediate future and, more importantly, this ‘competition bullshit’ has to go! It only serves the ‘owners’, the rest of society gets nothing!]

I was also struck by the pervasive sense that if we don’t get our act together then the glory days of the go-go American economic empire will fade like the triumphs of an aging Hollywood star. One of the participants raised the very real possibility of Americans having to get used to living in an economy “that won’t be number one,” an economy that perhaps is more like Germany’s. [The fucking horror! I don’t know how people can stand the idea! WTF! Understand good citizen that there are far worse things than not living in the world’s leading economy…and we’re about to experience them for ourselves!]

Rescuing the U.S. economy will require a commitment, and undoubtedly sacrifices, that need to start now. And it will require leadership that pulls together the best talents from all sectors of the society — not just business, not just government, but from everywhere.[Um, I couldn’t agree more with the ‘sacrifices’ although I doubt we’re on the same page regarding who needs to make them. We should, logically, start with the fat-heads responsible for this cluster fuck!]

Bruce Katz, the director of Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program, discussed some of the steps that need to be taken to remake an economy that has been thrown completely out of whack by frantic, debt-driven consumption, speculative bubbles, exotic financial instruments, and so on.

A new, saner, more sustainable economy will have to be more export-oriented, powered by cleaner fuels, bolstered by innovation that comes from a renewed focus on research and development, and committed to delivering a better-educated, more highly skilled work force. [Uh, how many of you are shaking your heads with disbelief thinking ‘good luck with that!’ ?]

Mr. Katz believes this is doable, but by no means easy. The nation’s infrastructure, he said, will have to “shift from 20th-century models of transport and energy transmission to rapid bus, ubiquitous broadband, congestion pricing, smart grid, high-speed rail and intelligent transport.” [Um, what the fuck is ‘intelligent transport’? There are several things this could imply with only a couple of them being actually ‘intelligent’.]

New ways of financing such transformative changes will have to be developed, linking public and private capital, preferably through the creation of a national infrastructure bank, [WTF! Haven’t the banksters done enough?] among other things. The nation’s political leaders and the public at large will have to grasp the difference between wasteful spending and crucial investments in the future.

It’s time for serious people to step forward and help lead on these critically important issues. Time is short.

Hard to say where to begin here good citizen, isn’t the President’s stimulus plan designed around this nation’s crumbling infrastructure? Here we are a year later and roads that were paved a year ago have a fresh layer of asphalt on them…not for any particularly good reason, maybe it was done because the permits were still in place?

But understand good citizen, nobody got a ‘new job’ out of the deal. The same contractors who did the work the first time did the job they just finished, again.

I’ll bet my state wasn’t the only one to play this game, I’m sure a lot of other contractors got the same deal. Rather than laying off their crews this winter they were kept working.

Um, so we need a ‘new way’ to finance public works projects. Here’s an idea, considering Mother Nature doesn’t have a cash register, meaning the materials to do the job are free…ironically, ALL of the materials, dump trucks, bulldozers and all are free. Maybe we don’t need to think up a ‘new way’ to pay for them. Maybe we should do what we always should have done, allocate the resources and the manpower and get the damn job done! (It’s not like we don’t have 50% of our workforce sitting idle, do we?)

Then there’s the ‘competitiveness’ issue to deal with. Remove price from the equation and the playing field becomes perfectly level…it’s not about price, its about doing what needs to be done!

There is no such thing as ‘we can’t afford it’ unless we’re talking about the ‘currently impossible’. The issues facing us in the near future are issues we can’t afford to NOT address!

If we are to save our species from self-annihilation we need to become mighty thankful that Mother Nature doesn’t have a cash register…and we have to put a stop to those who would try to convince you otherwise.

Long-time readers know that we would still need cash but the reason why would change. Your money is for you. You, you and only you.

At the end of the day, civilization/society has no use for money, only the individual needs it…and that’s the ‘change’ we can’t make soon enough!

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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