Connected

I wrote this a year ago. I still feel the same way.

I was sitting at my desk Tuesday when I felt something strange. My desk chair was rolling back and forth, and when I turned around to look out my window, I saw the wall shaking.

I live in Philadelphia. We’re not used to earthquakes. We’re not designed for them.

More to the point, my city has old, poorly-maintained infrastructure. In my neighborhood, every time we have a heavy rainstorm, we see sinkholes pucker up everywhere. Our local sewer system is 150 years old. Our bridges are uncomfortably close to collapse, and no one does anything other than slap the equivalent of Band-Aids on the problems.

Why? Because for 30 years, state and congressional Republicans have made it impossible to raise necessary taxes.

When the earthquake hit, I was checking the latest storm track for Hurricane Irene. All I could think of was, “Swell. Looks like a direct hit on the East Coast, and I wonder what programs the Republicans will insist we cut to pay for the clean-up.”

I look at Dave’s story, where we see funding was cut for earthquake sensors at nuclear power plants — right near the epicenter of yesterday’s quake — and I feel like screaming, “What the hell is wrong with you people?”

Then I see the latest reports that indicate (surprise!) the Deepwater Horizon site is leaking again, and no one’s talking about it. Seen anything on the news? Oh, and I’m not even mentioning the news that the area around the Fukushima power plants will be uninhabitable for a long, long time.

And that’s not counting the numerous problems with our food and water supplies.

What do these things have in common? They’re things government can, and should, take care of. Here in the U.S., we count on our federal agencies to regulate, enforce, anticipate problems – and clean up after national disasters.

We are the richest nation in the world. We can afford this.

What we can’t afford is another string of wars. We can’t continue to cut everything at home to pay for wars elsewhere, particularly when they’re for such blatantly dishonest reasons. We need to stop. Now.

I continue to be astounded by the national disconnect over global climate change. We are facing more numerous storms, more powerful weather extremes, and our infrastructure is no longer built to handle it. So what are our brave senators fighting over? Who can cut more spending. Instead of doing what’s best for our country, they do what’s best for their reelection. They’re more worried about Pope Grover than they are about their duty to the rest of us.

We are all connected, everywhere. A nuclear power plant in Fukushima spits out a radioactive plume, and now it’s in our air, food and water. A typhoon in one part of the world drives up food prices everywhere else. A massive earthquake in Japan affects the financial health of the global economy.

One world. Everything connected.

To have elected representatives who are too cowardly and craven to do the job for which they were elected — it’s not acceptable. Don’t accept it. Start speaking out. This crap is crazy. Pick up the phone, write a letter, go to a town hall. Sit in. Raise hell. Tell them you won’t vote for anyone who refuses to act like a freaking grownup and raise the revenue to pay for them.

Get moving. Because if we wait much longer, it’s going to be too late.

3 Responses to Connected

  1. imhotep August 24, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    According to the Republicans the “free market” should be taking care of this. Where are all of the vampire venture Capitalists like Bain when you really need them?

  2. quixote August 24, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    The only problem with blaming legislators is that everybody, all of us, puts self-preservation first. If the solution is for legislators to become selfless altruists, it’s not gonna happen.

    Which meaans that the problem is systemic. In democracies with elected representatives, most of them are always going to represent themselves first.

    Term limits don’t help the problem. They just guarantee that most use their time in office to get “consultancies” afterward.

    Solution? I don’t know. Maybe a system more like administrators paid to take care of business, like at the EPA or any other government agency, except that the voters could throw them out if they don’t like the job they’re doing. Then, presumably, the voters’ and the reps’ definition of “good job” might align. (?)

    Doesn’t help us right now, of course. Doesn’t look like anything will.

  3. imhotep August 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Why do you make the assumption that in “democracies with elected representatives, most of them are always going to represent themselves first?” Do that come to you when you were contemplating life while sitting on the toilet? It might be true if the society in which you live has been throughly corrupted. But, it probably wasn’t all that true in the thought process of the men who founded this country. Otherwise they would all have shot themselves in the brainpan.

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