Reminding Us of the Obvious

President Obama made an important speech yesterday, focusing on economic policy.

Much of the coverage has focused upon his insistence that a robust economy grows “from the middle out” and not from crumbs “trickling down” from the 1%–that when the middle class lacks disposable income, otherwise known as the wherewithal to buy things, the economy stalls.

That should be obvious.

It was another “should be obvious even to an idiot” part of the speech, however, that most resonated with me.

We’ve got ports that aren’t ready for the new supertankers that will begin passing through the new Panama Canal in two years’ time. We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare. Businesses depend on our transportation systems, our power grids, our communications networks – and rebuilding them creates good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. And yet, as a share of our economy, we invest less in our infrastructure than we did two decades ago. That’s inefficient at a time when it’s as cheap as it’s been since the 1950s. It’s inexcusable at a time when so many of the workers who do this for a living sit idle. The longer we put this off, the more expensive it will be, and the less competitive we will be. The businesses of tomorrow won’t locate near old roads and outdated ports; they’ll relocate to places with high-speed internet; high-tech schools; systems that move air and auto traffic faster, not to mention get parents home to their kids faster. We can watch that happen in other countries, or we can choose to make it happen right here, in America.

Given the choice of representatives they have sent to Washington, I can only conclude that a significant number of voters are less concerned about crossing those aging bridges or driving on those crumbling roads than they are about what I do with my uterus. Despite the jingoism and “We’re number one” protestations, they really don’t care that wireless access,  citizens’ health and children’s education in other countries  far exceed ours.

Those of us who do care about such things–those of us who were raised to believe that part of our obligation as human beings is to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren–look helplessly at a Congress controlled by childish buffoons who seem to have only one goal: say no to anything this President wants.

We can debate forever whether this behavior is rooted in excessive partisanship, fear of change or the color of the President’s skin, but those who insist that they just have “policy differences” with the administration cannot cite “policies” that justify allowing America to disintegrate. I can attribute opposition to healthcare reform to policy differences (but not 39 useless votes to repeal it–votes taken in lieu of doing the nation’s business.) I can  understand different approaches to education reform. But what “policy” argument is there for allowing our roads and bridges to crumble? What “policy” prevents us from putting people to work repairing and updating our aging electrical grid?

Recessions cause all kinds of pain, but they also offer us an opportunity to fix things “on the cheap.” We will lose that opportunity because–thanks to gerrymandering and political gamesmanship– we have sent a group of bratty children  to Congress instead of thoughtful representatives who are willing to work for the good of this country’s future.

A genuine opposition party picks its battles. It doesn’t throw a tantrum and scream “no” no matter what is put before it. It doesn’t block administration nominees or initiatives simply because it can, without regard for their merits.

We are at a crossroads. We can emerge from this toxic time a better, more mature America, or–as seems increasingly likely–we can go the way of other empires. Down.

Wherever we go, we evidently won’t be able to take our roads and bridges to get there.


  1. “A genuine opposition party picks its battles. It doesn’t throw a tantrum and scream “no” no matter what is put before it. It doesn’t block administration nominees or initiatives simply because it can, without regard for their merits.”

    This paragraph from today’s blog states what Sheila and I have said time and time again about what the Republican party used to stand for and the fact that it stands for nothing but obstructionism in all its forms today. Mayor Hudnut was not a perfect man or a perfect Mayor but his administration made the last and most forward movements and improvements in Indianapolis and Marion County. It was the last conservative but progressive Republican leadership this city has seen; just as the last progressive Republican leadership the state of Indiana saw was under Governor Bowen. Both strong Republicans; one a former minister and one a former doctor. Ballard has seen to it that bits and pieces of local infrastructure have been repaired (band-aids on gaping wounds in this city); this appeases enough people in spotty areas to believe he is doing a good job. He is a former Marine which is an honorable past but not a basis for leadership of a city and county of this size.

    The federal government is even worse as they are responsible for the entire country’s safety and livelihood. NO to President Obama is NO to 99% of this country and to 100% of next the generations who will have only GOP leavings to live with…if they can survive the destruction.

  2. When we have multinational corporations running our government with their puppet candidates…this is how things will be. They care for nothing except their own profits. Fix our roads, they fly over them anyway in their jets so they don’t care. Our tax dollars go to paying banking dept like the Federal Reserve holds over our currency. A privet bank in charge of our currency that makes money through interest simply by distributing the currency they are paid to create. Money for nothing for them and nothing left for us.

    They could care less if they turn this country into Bangladesh, now they are on to China to fleece.

    During the turmoil period before the revolution that created this country, these same type of people were tarred and feathered than kicked out of town.

  3. Have a look at this and the people (a Bank) who fleece this country:

    “Wachovia’s Drug Habit,”
    “Authorities discovered that the accused drug money launderer and airline broker for the cartels controlled 23 accounts at the Wachovia Bank branch in Miami and that it held some $11 million, subsequently frozen by U.S. investigators.”

    This is a story that needs more attention since MSM rarely reports on the big banks laundering drug money…your political connection is Dan Coats who was busying lobbying for Wachovia during this time and a defending voice in Washington as to why “NO” bankers went to prison for financing the drug trade.
    After Wachovia went belly up after the 2008 crash, they were absorbed by Wells Fargo (taking their bail-out money with them) who invests in the privet prison industry, “get them hooked and profit, send them away to prison for being hooked and profit”.
    …and what type of capitalism do we call this?
    ALL should be outraged by this…why is Elizabeth Warren and Berni Sanders the only elected officials trying to do something?

    Years and years ago George Carlin said; “Want to end the war on drugs? String up a few of the Wall Street bankers financing the drugs in Time Square and the drug war will end tomorrow”

  4. Off topic but…Shelia…was noodling around your “BookPage” and found you researched stats on the “Faith Based Initiative” programs. Have you looked into how many prison ministries use this cash to force conversions onto inmates?
    Not only that, here is a link to how these inmates must continue their attendance during reentry programs. Read about how they work with addicts…prayer is the answer with them as every fault a human has is caused by demons. WTF!

    She gravitated to Christian megachurches that she now calls “sub-cults.” The trauma, emotional abuse and manipulation Lyons suffered at the hands of Total Freedom Program were familiar to me because of the two years I spent investigating the Christian right for my book “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” In the closed world of the Christian right, pastors, “disciplers” and “prayer partners” define all doubt, questioning or “backsliding” as a sin and the work of Satan. Submission to authority becomes the only proper way to serve God. Critical judgment is abolished. Religious clichés shut down independent thought. All other ways of living become a compact with the demonic. A persecution mentality is pounded into adherents, making them deeply distrustful of outsiders. It is an ideology of fear and abject obedience to authority. And all those who walk away are condemned and branded as apostates. Lyons’ story is the story of millions of Americans who live or have lived inside these hermetically sealed systems of “Christian” indoctrination.

  5. The book you reference–Charitable Choice at Work: Faith-Based Job Training in the States–was primarily focused on claims that faith-based nonprofits would be more effective in training and placing welfare recipients. That claim was not supported by the evidence. In the chapter on constitutional issues, we did reference the significant constitutional issues raised by prison ministries, especially the Iowa case that was then in the courts.

  6. The neglect of infrastructure shouldn’t be surprising. For decades we have been told that government can never do anything right and the the private sector is all perfect and all knowing. If anything needs to be done, the private sector will do it; if it doesn’t get done, it wasn’t needed.

  7. Are you really contending that building a Colts stadium and Banker’s Life venues didn’t bring enough money into Indpls. and Indiana coffers to repair everything? Pshaw!

  8. “In the chapter on constitutional issues, we did reference the significant constitutional issues raised by prison ministries, especially the Iowa case that was then in the courts.”

    That would be Prison Fellowship Ministries…Chuck Colson’s religious prison org. they run the PLUS program at IWP, and I’m sure others at different prisons. What is disturbing is the religious reentry programs that are also so popular in Indiana. From what I read goes on there as in the link i posted…they are creating masses of x-offender religious zombies. Not good for a civilization based on education and critical thinking.
    I’m especially concerned with their teaching that anything bad an individual does is caused by demons. Why would a violent inmate change their way of thinking and behavior when a demon is responsible for their actions? How long until “The Demon defense” is accepted in our courts? And a sentence of exorcism will be accepted for such crimes as murder?

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