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Look Backward, Angel

I don’t blog much about politics, at least not directly. But this is an issue that is not about left vs. right or rich vs. poor or west vs. east but rather backward vs. forward.

Every day you read about other nations planning for the future. Today’s news has Switzerland completing the world’s longest tunnel to facilitate high speed rail throughout Europe (which already has a fantastic rail system). News stories about China’s forays into clean energy in addition to their own high speed rail system and other infrastructure investments have also been mentioned in recent weeks. The one nation that does not seem to be investing in its own future is our own. Hell, we even have political candidates who favor the end of public education.

Thomas Jefferson postulated that public education was essential to the maintenance of a democracy, though that dream did not come fully to pass until the 20th Century. Now the system that in part fueled our way to superpower status is underfunded and under fire from all sides. But it is not alone. Our roads and bridges fall into neglect, our mountains leveled, our cities ravaged by toxic spills, aging gaslines and environmental degradation. Spiraling healthcare costs at a time of spiraling exposure to industrial injury. Everyone complains but no one wants to pay to fix anything. Business leaders seem enamored of the whip (the old adage of the kitten trying to pull the cart and you say: look at the size of that kitten and they say, yes, but look at the size of this whip). American business (Meg Whitman, I’m looking at you) thinks all it needs is cops and military and they can push the citizenry around however they like. With that attitude, it’s no surprise that 53% of the federal budget gets swallowed whole by the Pentagon.

Something’s gotta give. History and economics reveal the folly of austerity in such times. And it’s not like the money has dried up or vanished: it’s simply moved into fewer hands. Current leadership in both parties has proven craven and corrupt, contemptuous of the majority while playing to Wall Street-funded extremist groups.

Our country is slipping into a feudal backwater while the rest of the world glides past on bullet trains. The turning point is now, the only question is will we be brave and wise and put aside our differences to reinvigorate this nation or will we fall for the propaganda and into torpor. No one’s riding to our rescue this time. It’s up to us.

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