I remember a time when people went to Washington to make deals. Say what you want about deal-making…drag in all the negatives about the power players back in the day… but they got stuff done! Were it not for the deal makers, we never would have had the interstate highway system built. Now, this is a topic near and dear to the heart of this old Midwesterner, because my street was U.S. 51, and it was a busy street. And then, the deal was struck to put Interstate 80 north of my hometown, and my family was the direct beneficiary of the guv’mint’s largesse, thanks to deal making.
Back in the day, we made a lot of cars and people were, as their post-war economic situations improved, starting to acquire those cars. In fact, it was common for them to trade in every two years for a new model. It was a heyday for Detroit, and the best part was, there were a LOT of jobs up there. They paid well and had increasingly good benefits in return. Credit the United Autoworkers with that. In our area, there were good jobs to be had building highways and bridges. We also built a lot of facilities for the government – offices, VA hospitals, post offices…
People in my home town were victim to the early waves of off shore production when Westclox was taken over by Talley Industries. At first the jobs went to Georgia, where they thought they could get cheap non-union labor. But alas and alack, those people wised up and unionized. The company took production to Japan. Back then we said, “made in Japan” with a sneer because the goods were never as well-made as those produced in America. Eventually, Talley went bankrupt. They deserved it, but the people of LPO-land didn’t deserve losing good jobs. It brought no solace to learn that in spite of the economic hurt they visited upon our community, they got theirs in the end.
Back in those days, our politicians went to Washington and made deals that would be good for their districts. Jobs, new industry, infrastructure, services…it all added up to the quality of life for their constituents. Sadly, too much of our economy has depended upon being involved in some sort of armed conflict, such as World War II, which dug us out of the Depression. The 1950s saw our economy rise with the Korean Conflict, but we were on an upturn by then anyway, and worldwide, our country’s comeback was strong compared to others. By the 1960s, we had a terrific highway system and Americans traveled with glee. Holiday Inns were everywhere, the roads were good, and those long, sleek finned cars just sailed across America as families went to see the sights.
We had our ups and downs and then along came Newt the Snewt and decreed that they’d be no more deals. Oh, the deals continued because we had people like Ted Kennedy who’d have an opponent in for a drink and eventually an agreement was reached. But then, the Republican operatives found themselves some unlikely allies with the very people the Dean of Conservatism, Barry Goldwater, had warned against: the religious zealots. Up until then, the Republicans pretty much didn’t care who slept with whom, nor did they give a rat’s ass about abortion. Legalizing it was good for men because it meant they wouldn’t necessarily have to pay the piper, if you get my drift. But the zealots represented a group that would help them get past the increasing numbers of boomers who were liberal minded, having opposed the Viet Nam war by burning their draft cards and bras.
And the whole thing snowballed until, in an act of desperation, John McCain, in his last gasp effort to become President tried to appeal to women voters by bringing on a high maintenance Barbie doll as his running mate. Oh, she ran, all right….she ran her mouth, she ran amok and her family was a constant embarrassment. The GOP had to dress her clan, school her clan and otherwise manage her clan. Poor ole POW McCain was in dire straits because all he’d done was insult the intelligence of the educated women of America. Y’know we were smart enough to know we’d be one heart attack away from that dumb bunny being, gasp!, president. Yikes! We got out the vote for the young, hip black guy and were tickled pink to do so.
But I’ve gotten ahead of the narrative. Now we are paying the price for a decision made by the Supremes when they declared Shrub the winner and Al Gore the loser. It wasn’t unanimous and it set a dangerous precedent. We went into debt when we put a war on the country’s Visa card – a war that was completely unjustified for any reason other than to line the pockets of the vice president.
Screaming about our debt, the GOP went into action. We now have a Congress that collects its paychecks, but does nothing to earn them. No deals are being made because quite honestly, the right wing nuts who are earning those big paychecks have no idea what to do to govern. They are out of their depths and they are lazy. Add in their antipathy toward a black man in the white house and you have a recipe for a country in trouble. Racism and laziness are a bad combination.
There are some easy fixes but stupid people who do not know American history, or have no conscience…who are led by greed and fear of women….will not work to implement them. We all know what was done in the 1950s to finance the interstates. Corporations paid their fair share in taxes, and they still made money. People earned good wages and contributed to our retail economy – they bought houses and cars. We made stuff that was of good quality, until companies tried to cut corners. Our sheets and towels were the best a modest amount of money could buy! And then we let in China, with its cheap labor. NAFTA. That giant sucking sound…
So here is The Old Sprawler’s list:
- · Repeal corporate tax cuts
- · Lift the ceiling on Social Security income payments
- · Repeal the bill that makes the post office pay for the pensions of people they haven’t even hired yet
- · Crank up the construction machinery to fix the highways and bridges and relieve congestion in urban areas (and do it now while we still have domestic oil production to fuel the machinery!)
- · Invest in solar and wind energy because oil production and fracking are destroying our already fragile drinking water supply
- · Be serious about air quality because it will cut health care costs as dramatically as quitting smoking did
- · Don’t deny science; embrace it and use it to make our world healthier
- · Bring back manufacturing from China and be judicious about manufacturing in third world countries
- · Revisit trade agreements and get back our balance of exportation
- · Get the hell out of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East
- · Increase interest rates on savings accounts, reduce interest on student loans, and implement usury regulations on credit card companies (in other words, make it easier to accumulate some savings and to pay off existing debt)
- · Raise the amount corporations pay for interest rates to the same consumers pay
- · Reinstate Glass-Steagall
- · Make gay marriage and the attendant benefits a nation-wide law
- · Cement women’s right to contraception and abortion nation-wide
- · Support early childhood education and daycare options for working families
- · Make family leave easy, flexible and of minimum economic impact for all concerned
- · Take care of our veterans from start to finish with no excuses or political interference
- · Take the corporate profits out of high stakes testing and instead invest in educational research that will eliminate the bandwagon syndrome that has corrupted the system
- · Support teachers by having a universal certification process and subsidize continuing education that leads to advanced degrees
- · Pay them well because they are educated professionals, not babysitters
- · Implement universal health care
- · Negotiate drug prices
- · Get drug ads off the television, same as alcohol and cigarettes
- · Pay the cops and firefighters better than minimum wage – pay them seriously well!
- · Give veterans first crack at government jobs at the post office and in law enforcement and fire safety
- · Create laws that benefit society as a whole, not just a select few