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Coming Soon, to a Life Near You

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by David Glenn Cox

The other day I went with my son to the metal salvage yard. We had been
cleaning up the shop and had two or three engine blocks plus the usual
amalgamation of sheet metal. We pulled into the yard to wait in line
for the weigh-in scale and in front of us was a large construction
truck loaded down with scaffolding. Scaffolding on its way to the
crusher and then to be melted down because that construction company
saw no future need in owning scaffolding as a tool of its trade. Or
perhaps they needed the few dollars as scrap metal more than its
potential use. Either way you look at it, it says something frightening.

weighed in and were directed to a slot to back in and dump our load,
and as we parked to unload, in front of us were piles and piles of wire
shelving, wire store shelving. It looked like a Home Depot equivalent
of the Elephant’s Graveyard, white bleached bones of commerce left to
bake in the sun after the days of roaming the Savanna are over. We
emptied the truck and collected our few dollars for scrap and left to
collect another load.

This time as we pulled in we were behind a
flat bed semi-truck loaded six feet high with more store shelving.
These were hard shelves, gondolas, the type most people never notice in
stores but I knew from my days in the auto parts business that these
were expensive commodities, and this truck was loaded down with
probably close to $100,000 worth about to be turned into $300 worth of
scrap. These two examples are not the actions taken in a recession;
these are the actions taken in a depression when business sees no

It is like we are living in two parallel universes, the
people in one and the government in the other. Hillary Clinton goes to
India and tells its leaders Americans don’t want protectionism. And
then is blasted to bits by comments from the readers of Democratic

Senator Edward Kennedy recently wrote, “We
mustn’t let the perfect stand in the way of the good in regards to
health care reform.” I found that a bit ironic on the fortieth
anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, because it was Kennedy’s own
brother who said why we chose to go to the moon. “We choose to go to
the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are
easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to
organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that
challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to
postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Senator is saying to us that we must take what we can get and be
grateful for it. Well, I’m not grateful, I’m angry; I’m tired of
watching our jobs, our healthcare, and our standard of living going
down the toilet while Senators, Congressmen, and even Presidents tell
me we must take what we can get and be grateful for it. It makes me
angry because only one universe is suffering; Goldman Sachs is doing
quite well on the Fed’s free money policy as are the health insurance
providers and the Congressmen and Senators.

Last week in the New
York Times was the following headline, “Democrats Drop Key Part of Bill
to Assist Unions.” They’ve dropped Card Check from the Card Check
legislation! Like dropping the moon missions from the space program
after President Kennedy’s speech. What friends do American workers have
in Congress if this is what comes from the Democratic side of the

No pun intended but there is an elephant in the room
that no one will mention. Republican Jim Demint says if Obama can’t
pass healthcare legislation it will be his Waterloo. Republicans want
to make the issue about people and not about ideas, because when asked
what are the Republican plans for healthcare reform, they begin to
stutter and stammer. Their plan is the system we’ve got now! So they
say, lets talk about Obama. Why don’t the Democrats exploit this? The
public favors reform by a wide margin, so why not? Why not give us the
single payer reforms that we the people are crying out for?

the same reason that Card Check was castrated; you can have reform but
only business and industry-approved reform. They tinker a little in the
margins, then proclaim a great reform in their universe, but one that
does little to solve the problems in yours.

If left in their
hands, this will be the generation of diminished expectations. In
California falling home prices coupled with higher unemployment equals
lower tax revenue for the state, which in turn means draconian cuts in
education, social services and balancing the budget on the backs of
workers, which in turn generates more lay offs and lower wages. While
FDR offered massive support for the states and minimal support for the
banks, Obama’s plan is quite the opposite, massive supports for the
banks and minimal support for the states.

This is a shit storm
and it’s rolling uphill and threatens to make a black hole out of our
universe, business, industry and most of all the people. Falling wages,
shorter hours, unemployment and under employment along with such
euphemistic Orwellian non-speak as jobless recovery means Federal tax
revenues will fall. No job? No Social Security withholding. No
withholding, no money coming in which will make hamburger out of the
current Social Security projections.

Three guesses as to what
will come next? Republicans will coyly smile as the blue dogs snap
their fingers and tell the cameras, “Damn, we wish we didn’t have to do
this but you must take what you can get and be grateful for it.” As for
me I’m not just losing faith in Obama or blue dog Democrats, I’m losing
faith in a system that fails to deliver the goods to the people. Where
you order an apple pie and get a mud pie and are told it’s almost just
as good. A system where millions of people are losing their homes and
struggling to make ends meet and the President says, give it two years.

the banks to wait two years also? It does not need to be this way; the
New Deal invested in the people and built America’s modern
infrastructure. Airlines were the wave of the future, so they built
airports. We need green energy, our people need jobs, so why aren’t we
doing this? Our trade policy is strangling our economy while our cities
fall into ruins so why aren’t we changing it? Our tax policy is even
more absurd than our trade policy. It's not protectionism, it’s
national defense and common sense. It was FDR who said, “They know only
the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and
when there is no vision the people perish.”

Where is our vision?
Has it changed to a life of half a loaf and half a fish down to a third
of a loaf and a third of a fish? To work and to struggle only to become
the college-educated unemployed? I see two possible visions, one where
we invest in our people and our country as was done in the 1930’s, and
the other is, of course, the road that we are directed to travel now.
The first is uphill and challenging and the final destination is
unknown; the other is downhill and the destination is certain.

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” John F. Kennedy