Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's wrong with you?

Greetings good citizen,

Tonight we encounter a question you really shouldn’t ask unless you’re ready to hear the answer. What’s debatable is whether or not a majority of us don’t already know the answer and this isn’t just another example of the MSM playing ‘coy’.

It’s a bit difficult to carry on this dialog without first letting you in on ‘the question: What’s Wrong With Us?

Naturally, at face value, the question is too broad for a simple answer that doesn’t come off as trite. Sure, ‘we-todd-did’ springs to mind, but there’s that ‘trite’ thing staring us right in the face. Which is to point out that the obvious answer isn’t always the correct one.

If we are to discover the answer we must first delve deeper into the context of the question.

What’s Wrong With Us?

Published: February 15, 2010

Gov. Ed Rendell likes to tell a story that goes back to his days as mayor of Philadelphia.

As he recalled, the city had a long cold snap with about a month and a half of below-freezing temperatures. Then, abruptly, the mercury rose into the 60s, he said, “and 58 of our water mains broke, causing all sorts of havoc.”

The pipes were old. Some were ancient. “My water people told me that some had been laid in the 19th century,” said Mr. Rendell, “and they were laid shallow, without much protection. So with any radical changes in temperature, they were susceptible to breaking. We had a real emergency on our hands.”

Infrastructure, that least sexy of issues, is not just a significant interest of Ed Rendell’s; it’s more like a consuming passion. He can talk about it energetically and enthusiastically for hours and days at a time. He has tried to stop the hemorrhaging of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure, and he travels the country explaining how crucially important it is for the United States to rebuild a national infrastructure landscape that has deteriorated so badly that it is threatening the nation’s economic viability.

Gegner here: Once again we are confronted with a question that has little to do with our decision-making process. The ‘us’ here doesn’t exist, just as that fictional group ‘We the People’ has no basis in reality.

Understand, ‘we’ don’t make these decisions, so it doesn’t matter what’s ‘wrong’ with us, the problem lies with those we elect to make decisions in our name without ever consulting us…that not being psychic thing just keeps biting us on the ass, doesn’t it?

Yet the media keeps on asking us why ‘we’ don’t ‘do’ anything about these glaring…deficiencies. It’s not up to us…what part of that don’t they get?

Understand, provisions were made for the ‘upkeep’ of all of this infrastructure projects…but the money keeps ‘disappearing’…and nobody is ever prosecuted for stealing from the State…we can only wonder why, just as we can only wonder why the media thinks this is our problem. Which is a mis-statement, it IS our problem BUT ‘we’ are powerless to do anything about it! (Because we arrive full circle at that ‘psychic’ problem, our representatives don’t comprehend normal thinking. Nor do they read newspapers…or watch TV, all of their information comes from their ‘aides/lobbyists’.)

Unfortunately, this leaves us without an answer to the original question ‘What is wrong with ‘us’?’

While ‘we-todd-did’ still springs to mind, I think the real answer is deeper than that.

Two years ago, a bridge inspector who had stopped for lunch in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood happened to glance up at a viaduct that carries Interstate 95 over the neighborhood. He noticed a 6-foot crack in a 15-foot column that was supporting the highway. His sandwich was quickly forgotten. Two miles of the highway had to be closed for three days for emergency repairs to prevent a catastrophe from occurring.

These kinds of problems are not peculiar to Pennsylvania. New Orleans was lost for want of an adequate system of levees and floodwalls. Lawrence Summers, President Obama’s chief economic adviser, tells us that 75 percent of America’s public schools have structural deficiencies. The nation’s ports, inland waterways, drinking water and wastewater systems — you name it — are hurting to one degree or another.

Gegner here (again): How about that? Looks like the whole damn nation is going to hell in a hand basket, and this coincides with…Geez, you don’t suppose this massive lack of spending on infrastructure has anything to do with the corresponding lack of investment in domestic industry?

What have they built in this nation over the past twenty years besides restaurants and shopping malls? Oh, let’s not forget banks and real estate offices!

Understand good citizen, they haven’t built a single new oil refinery here in forty years…what does that tell you? Power plants? Roughly the same story.

Are you curious yet? Just what the hell IS wrong with us?

Ignoring these problems imperils public safety, diminishes our economic competitiveness, is penny-wise and pound-foolish, and results in tremendous missed opportunities to create new jobs on a vast scale. [Um, you know and I know there aren’t going to be ANY new jobs created here until the wage scale sinks to the level found in most Banana Republics, pretending otherwise is…’we-todd-did’]

Competitors are leaving us behind when it comes to infrastructure investment. China is building a network of 42 high-speed rail lines, while the U.S. has yet to build its first. Other nations are well ahead of us in the deployment of broadband service and green energy technology. We spend scandalous amounts of time sitting in traffic jams or enduring the endless horrors of airline travel. Low-cost, high-speed Internet access is a science-fiction fantasy in many parts of the United States.

What’s wrong with us?

We’re so far behind in some areas that Governor Rendell has said that getting our infrastructure act together can feel like “sledding uphill.” [Uh, why not blame the ‘REAL culprits’, the investors, led by the Wall Street crowd! The people directly responsible for creating the ‘expensive American worker’ via currency manipulation!]

“When I took over as governor,” he said, “I was told that Pennsylvania led the nation in the number of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges. We had more than 5,600 of them. So I put a ton of money into bridge repair. We more than tripled the amount in the capital budget, from $200 million a year to $700 million a year. And I got a special appropriation from the Legislature to do $200 million a year extra for the next four years.”

The result? “Well, the good news is that we repaired a lot of bridges,” said Mr. Rendell. “The bad news is that by the end of my sixth year, the end of 2008, the number of deficient or structurally obsolete bridges had gone from 5,600 to more than 6,000. [You don’t suppose this says something about the practice/preference of awarding public contracts to the ‘politically connected’ does it?]

“The reason is that we lead the nation in bridges 75 years or older, and the recommended life-span for a bridge is 40 years. So every time we fixed two, three would bump onto the list.”

He said he hopes that by the end of this year the list will be pared to 4,300 bridges, which he described as “still way too high.” [Worse, the funds allocated to ‘maintain’ those bridges dwindles as inflation shreds the value of our money…thanks to our shrinking productivity…US companies are profitable, the US…not so much.]

It’s easy, especially in tough economic times, to push aside infrastructure initiatives, including basic maintenance and repair, in favor of issues that seem more pressing or more appealing. But this misses the point that infrastructure spending that is thoughtful and wise is an investment, a crucial investment in the nation’s future — and it’s a world-class source of high-value jobs. [Once again Mr. Herbert absolutely nails the problem…but is tragically wide of the mark regarding both the cause and the ultimate resolution of the problem!]

The great danger right now is that we will do exactly the wrong thing, that we’ll turn away from our screaming infrastructure needs and let the deterioration continue. With infrastructure costs so high (the needs are enormous and enormously expensive) and with the eyes in Washington increasingly focused on deficit reduction, the absolutely essential modernizing of the American infrastructure may not take place. That would be worse than foolish. It would be tragic.

Um, did we arrive at an answer to the ‘what’s wrong with us question?’

This is like the villain in a bad movie asking the bound and gagged hero ‘what’s wrong with you?’ How is the hero supposed to answer with a sock stuffed into his yap?

Short answer…he isn’t. Unfortunately that’s where the similarity ends. The hero will either break his poorly tied bonds or otherwise escape, thwarting the bad guy’s plans…

If we don’t get our fingers out of our collective backsides, we won’t survive to escape the fate that awaits us.

Let’s examine the problem a bit more rationally. We have politicians who don’t listen and contractors who don’t care (Governor Rendell being an obvious exception…if only to stave off a disaster on his watch!)

Worse, we are powerless to alter this web of deceit. Politicians may come and go but corrupt networks are permanent! At least until they are deposed by a more powerful syndicate, which does nothing to correct the problem.

It is not possible to stop corruption without first abolishing the system that supports it. Um, and the only way to keep corruption at bay is to replace the corrupt system with a system that can’t be corrupted.

This can only be done by changing the laws of money…there is no other way, our patriot forefathers tried the ‘men both honest and true’ route and that hasn’t worked out so well.

Society doesn’t need money to operate, only individuals need money and then only for access to scarce/perishable commodities.

Turning EVERYTHING into an ‘income stream’ has lead to unspeakable corruption that threatens to result in the collapse of society itself! The trouble with the ‘more for me’ game is it’s never enough! The only way to end the madness is to cut it off before it begins.

Again, I have the utmost respect for Mr. Herbert and recognize his voice wouldn’t be heard at all if he were to advocate for ‘sensible’ solutions that lie outside the ‘conventional tool box.’

You have no idea how frustrating it is to offer these practical solutions and have nobody listen.

Maybe ‘we-todd-did’ IS the answer after all…

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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