Coming Soon, to a Life Near You

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.

We

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

future.

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

Underground.

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.”

The

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

aisle?

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?

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.

Are

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

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.