Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Can't get there from here

This is one of those busy days that somehow dominate what was supposed to be my "golden" years, but scanning the headlines an article about the opening of  the Marmoray Link, a railroad tunnel under the Bosphorus, linking Europe and Asia. Turkish projects include more bridges and canals to facilitate transportation and trade.  Ours are falling down from neglect.  They build seaports and massive flood control projects, we build Wal-Marts to sell their goods and bitch when the government spends money rebuilding after natural disasters. We used to be at the forefront of progress and innovation. Now?

We are the can't do, won't do nation.

 In case you're a typical American who has never been abroad or who thinks Epcot Center is the real world, Transportation in America is pathetic.  We no longer have the ability to get places without private cars, flying is time consuming and expensive and weather dependent. We don't have the biggest bridges or the best roads and we don't have trains that go anywhere you want to go and the ones we have left are slower than they were in my Father's youth.  We don't have 300 mph magnetic levitation trains, nor even the 180 mph trains they have in Europe.  You know, Europe, that place we look down on for their educational opportunities, general health, social mobility, low crime rates and lack of  John Wayne bellicosity.

It wasn't long ago that our Republican governor in Florida turned down a few billion in Federal funds to build a high speed railroad because it would "cost jobs."  That's the same reason my recently pristine part of the State is becoming an open sewer with the full complicity and support of the Republican lead government:  hiring people for water projects only a government can do offends industry and Republican principles.

Progress offends Republican principles and indeed they consider it a dirty word.

Civilization began with the necessity to implement irrigation projects, build roads, fortifications and canals. Regulation was needed to control distribution, collect taxes, provide security, enforce laws, decide cases and make civilization possible. We're told none of that matters because government cannot do anything and should not do anything.  Where those things failed or were inadequate, civilizations failed. Ours is failing now and perhaps if we weren't so militarily huge, it would have already, because every time something that only a government can do needs to be done, that howling chorus on the right begins to sing the song of private enterprise.

The US isn't capable of building railroads, or intercontinental tunnels.  We couldn't build a Panama Canal today. We don't build Golden Gate or Brooklyn bridges today, we don't even maintain what our father's America built and I place our economic catatonia at the feet of the Right, with it's whining about privatization, with its psychotic parsimony, its Paranoid horror of  Communism and its worship of corporate entities.

Any country that can't get me to Chicago in under two days without flying cannot hope to endure. Any country that can't repair an earthen dike build 80 years ago and would rather make a huge estuary that was a naturalists delight a few years ago into a sewer so filthy that skin contact with the water is dangerous, is already failing and all the flags waving from all the cars, all the slogans and speeches and denunciations of Law and government and civilization itself are the real poison in the air and water and spirit.

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