Few Political Stories Make Me Angry. This One Makes Me Angry. And Frightened.

brideg-collapse

In these three posts—Blame Everyone for Infrastructure Ruin: Unethical, Irresponsible Priorities from Reagan to Obama (2010); Ethics Heads-Up: When the President Talks About “Investment in Infrastructure,” Pay Attention (2011); Hole-in-the-Roof Ethics: If Obama Asks For Massive Infrastructure Renewal, the GOP Must Support It. (2011), I laid out the unanswerable case for making national infrastructure renewal a priority. Let me just quote from the three, to save me typing time…

In the early Eighties, I oversaw an independent study funded by the Highway Users Federation and the National Chamber Foundation called “Transport Tomorrow,” exploring the immediate need for transportation infrastructure repair and expansion in all modes of transportation: roads, railway, waterway, and airports. In the process of learning how dire the need for massive construction and repair was if America’s future commercial needs were to be met, the study commission made a disturbing discovery: urban water and sewer systems were crumbling too. There was literally not enough money to fix all the roads, bridges, tunnels, water mains and sewer pipes that had to be fixed, and the consequences of not doing so would be economic paralysis and worse, disease and even social unrest.In the face of this looming and undeniably real disaster, the Reagan Administration did—pretty much nothing. Neither did the Bush, Clinton and Bush II administrations…

Seldom is a solution to a problem so obvious, and so conducive to bi-partisanship. It is a solution to two problems, really: America’s dangerously rotting infrastructure, and the nation’s dismal unemployment rate. Spend the money, trillions if necessary, to repair and replace existing roads, railway beds, waterways, sewer systems, airports and bridges.  It still won’t get us where we need to be, but we’ll be much better off than if we let the current deterioration continue, and we’ll save money in the long run, too—real savings, not phony health care reform savings that evaporate once reality kicks in.

There is no justification not to do this, nor is there any legitimate excuse for any elected official not to vote for it. (And no, not wanting to give the President a victory is not legitimate…or ethical, or patriotic.) Repairing the infrastructure isn’t “discretionary spending,” it is essential, unavoidable and cost-effective spending, unless it is diverted into new boondoggles and pork. No new structures, unless they replace unrepairable old ones. No light rail systems or bullet trains; what is needed is basic maintenance and repair….everywhere. It is already late, but “better late than never” has seldom been as appropriate.Will fixing the infrastructure add to the deficit? Not really, because it already is an expense that we know will have to be made, or else. If the sewer systems and waterworks break down, we start dying. If bridges collapse, we die too. That isn’t even mentioning the increasing costs in energy and commerce caused by a decaying transportation system. The sooner we pay for it, the less it will cost, so sooner is per se better for the economy, and it is perfect timing given the employment crisis.

Yes, Obama better have a way to pay for it, with real budget cuts and reasonable taxes. If he plays politics with the proposal by making it impossible for the GOP to support (as some pundits, like the Post’s Eugene Robinson, have advised), shame on him. This has to be paid for, but it also has to be done…If Obama puts a fair, reasonable, relatively pork-free proposal on the table, Republicans would be despicably unethical to reject it.

As we now know, the Obama Administration proposed, and the GOP Congress opposed. This is a long-term bi-partisan failure, but it must be remembered that Obama had no credibility on this issue, and he never did propose a a way to pay for it “with real budget cuts and reasonable taxes.”

I was reminded of this issue when I read yesterday about how engineers have concluded that over 9% of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient. Bridges are just part of the infrastructure disaster to come—just wait until the 200-year old sewer and water systems in some cities start breaking down, and we have Flint, Michigan times a thousand—but they are illustrative of our government’s failure. Continue reading

The Definition Of Irresponsible Leadership? Obama’s Keystone Pipeline Call

keystone-pipelineI am trying to find another example of a U.S. President taking action that harms the nation and its citizens while admitting that it will have no measurable beneficial effects whatsoever.

I can’t find any. I’d like to know about one, and see how it worked out.

When the Washington Post’s editorial staff essentially calls a Democratic President’s conduct an embarrassment. it really must have been embarrassing…and it was. Obama’s sole explanation for his decision, which he has, as is his style, dithered over for years, was this:

“Ultimately if we’re going to prevent large parts of the Earth from becoming inhospitable or uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them.”

But killing the pipeline will keep no fossil fuels in the ground. So the reason really is this:

“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious actions to fight climate change and, frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.”

Ah. So America will show it is serious about climate change by killing a project that all agree will have no tangible, long-term, short-term, measurable effects on climate change at all. This is Obama logic, as we have seen many times: good intentions is enough; results don’t matter. If his decision won’t help reduce the risk of parts of the Earth  becoming “inhospitable or uninhabitable in our lifetimes”—a risk that is also measurable and speculative at best—then the purpose of it isn’t to prove leadership. True, it proves atrocious leadership, but Obama is cynical, not stupid. The decision is political. Its only tangible benefit is to the Democratic Party, which feels the need to make the welfare of the U.S. and its citizens subordinate to the fanaticism of the environmentalist movement. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: How Do We React Ethically To THIS?

"Oh, Naaaaancy! Naaaancy!

“Oh, Naaaaancy! Naaaancy!

Today,the Congressional Budget Office made this announcement, as reported by The Hill:

“The new healthcare law will cost the nation the equivalent of 2.5 million workers in the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in a report released Tuesday. The nonpartisan agency found the healthcare law’s negative effects on the economy would be “substantially larger” than what it had previously anticipated. It said the equivalent of 2.3 million workers would be lost by 2021, compared to its previous estimate of 800,000. It also projected that labor force compensation would be reduced by 1 percent from 2017 to 2024 — twice its previous estimate — and that declining economic growth would add $1 trillion more to deficits.”

Well, of course. We, and by we I mean intelligent, objective people who pay attention to history and know how government programs work, knew this revelation, or some version of it, was coming along sooner or later. And yet, when the Affordable Care Act was being debated and railroaded through Congress–and that is a fair description of the strong-arm, gimmick-driven, dishonest and anti-Democratic manner in which  it was passed—critics who said the law would increase the deficit and the debt, not reduce them; that it would lose jobs, not create them, and that it would retard economic growth, not boost it were savaged by the media, commentators and Democrats, called obstructionists, cruel, liars and worse.

I particularly remember MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, arguably the most credible of her far left colleagues, furiously railing, while serving as a reporter at the Republican National Convention, about the utter dishonesty of GOP speakers who kept saying—in defiance of the CBO projections, mind you!—that the AFA would increase the deficit, not reduce it. Chris Matthews, to give credit where it’s due, intervened and said, in essence, ‘Well, now Rachel, you have to admit that the record of big federal programs has not been good in this respect.’ No, she wouldn’t admit it. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Day: Jo-Ann Youngblood

“There is nothing wrong with being an average (mediocre) employee. Not everyone aspires to be in management. If the person meets the requirements of their current job, and they like the job and want to stay in the job, so be it. Stop trying to force people to get to the next level. The reality is that work is not the most important thing in everyone’s lives. People have more important things in their life than work. Work is simply a means to get the money we need to pay the mortgage and our other bills. Work is a low-priority event for most people. I’m only willing to do the bare minimum that it takes to get a paycheck every two weeks. As long as I am meeting the requirements of my job, than that is good enough. Don’t expect any more of me because I will not be a slave to any company.”

—-Commenter Jo-Ann Youngblood (of Tulsa, Oklahoma) in response to New York Times small business blogger Jay Golz’s 2011 post, “The Dirty Little Secret of Successful Companies,” in which he concluded that what dragged companies down were what he called “the sixes”—mediocre employees who just weren’t very good at their jobs.

George Costanza, hard at work.

Golz reprinted the comment today in a Times feature selecting highlights from the blog. I like Golz’s answer, which read in part:

“…As the owner of a business, I have the right to avoid hiring someone who only wants to do the bare minimum to get a paycheck. In fact, if I hire too many people with that attitude, I will be out of business. This is Capitalism 101, survival of the fittest. I operate in a very competitive market. I don’t have any patents, any special marketing magic, or any secret recipes. My companies can only exist and grow if they do a much-better-than-average job. Continue reading

Hole-in-the-Roof Ethics: If Obama Asks For Massive Infrastructure Renewal, the GOP Must Support It.

Seldom is a solution to a problem so obvious, and so conducive to bi-partisanship. It is a solution to two problems, really: America’s dangerously rotting infrastructure, and the nation’s dismal unemployment rate. Spend the money, trillions if necessary, to repair and replace existing roads, railway beds, waterways, sewer systems, airports and bridges.  It still won’t get us where we need to be, but we’ll be much better off than if we let the current deterioration continue, and we’ll save money in the long run, too—real savings, not phony health care reform savings that evaporate once reality kicks in.

There is no justification not to do this, nor is there any legitimate excuse for any elected official not to vote for it. (And no, not wanting to give the President a victory is not legitimate…or ethical, or patriotic.) Repairing the infrastructure isn’t “discretionary spending,” it is essential, unavoidable and cost-effective spending, unless it is diverted into new boondoggles and pork. No new structures, unless they replace unrepairable old ones. No light rail systems or bullet trains; what is needed is basic maintenance and repair….everywhere. It is already late, but “better late than never” has seldom been as appropriate. Continue reading

Incompetent Sunday Morning Talk Show Host Performance of the Week: David Gregory on “Meet the Press”

"Here's a tough question for you, Rep. Waters, but feel free to answer with any damn thing you feel like talking about."

For reasons known only to the producers, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Cal.), target of an ongoing House ethics investigation, inveterate race-baiter and general embarrassment to representative democracy, was included in the “Meet the Press” panel on the jobs crisis. Waters was, appropriately, asked by host David Gregory about her inflammatory and uncivil rhetoric during the policy debate, specifically her infamous  comment last week that the “Tea Party can go straight to Hell.”  Is this kind of comment appropriate and helpful, he asked?

Rep. Waters responded that her constituency was frustrated and needed help, but instead the nation was bailing out banks. That was it. No justification from Maxine of her incendiary rhetoric, no explanation, in fact nothing with any relevance to the Tea Party or the comment in question at all. Continue reading

Why Obama’s Party Is Going Down

The excuses are already coming fast and furious as President Obama and his party faces a rebuke in Tuesday’s election of historic proportions. The lack of accountability so far may be forgivable; after all, nobody admits they have done a lousy, hypocritical, incompetent and dishonest job while they are running for re-election. The voter’s fury and the Democrats’ peril are being blamed, alternatively and collectively, on George Bush, on Sarah Palin, on racism, on the sad stupidity of the American public, who just are so impatient and unsophisticated that they don’t comprehend all the wonderful things that have been done for them.  It’s also the Supreme Court’s fault for allowing large corporations the right of free speech, although the union money flowing to Democrats as the result of the same decision has dwarfed corporate money.

All of these excuses are demeaning to Obama and his party, and insulting to the intelligence of everyone else.

The reason the Democrats are going down to a party that had thoroughly disgraced itself out of power just two years ago, is illustrated by a shocking report that barely caused a ripple in the news cycle. Continue reading