Monday, August 26, 2013

The Erie Canal, The Coming Fiscal Crisis and Other Thoughts in the Late August Heat

Summer Ends with A Whimper, Not a Bang

With Congress in recess, the President playing golf and Europe on its extended August vacation, here are a few thoughts that need to be spoken.

The Erie Canal – Monumental in Many Ways

Traveling the New York State Thruway, possibly the nation’s most boring road, one is struck by the historic majesty of the Erie Canal, which parallels the road.  The Erie Canal stands as a monument to what government can do, how it can transform the lives of millions, and how it can help build an economic colossus.  It is also a monument to the immigrant labor that built it.  Finally, it is a monumental rebuke to Conservatives who hate government and claim that government never ever created a single job. 

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is a Canadian

This is not new, but apparently it is news to Mr. Cruz, a man who stands for the principle that Harvard Law grads are not the best and the brightest.  Mr. Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother, and this makes him a U. S. citizen, but he also has dual citizenship.  Mr. Cruz is revoking his Canadian citizenship, although most of the U. S. would be willing to pay Canada huge sums to keep him.

Perpetual Campaign Mode – 2014 and 2016 Races Are On

Election campaigning is now a continual activity in the United States.  Ads are already running for the 2014 Congressional races, and the Republican Party has at least three de facto declared candidates for 2016 in Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie.  While all of this is entertaining, it makes governing almost impossible.

Will Jeb Bush Run in 2016?

He wants to run, but is smart enough to know the toll it takes on his family and the question of whether or not the country can stomach another Bush in the White House is also on his mind. 

The Fiscal Crisis is Now on the Fall TV Schedule - Consult Your Local
Listings for Time and Channel

The government runs out of spending authority on October 1.  Some Republicans want to shut it down, partly on health care reform and partly on general principle.  At this point it looks like there will not be a shutdown, and that radical Republicans will wait for the fight over the debt ceiling to attack, but trying to forecast the actions of irrational people is never a successful endeavor.

If Larry Summers is Named to Head the Fed

Then Mr. Obama will cement his reputation in economics as one of the least qualified Presidents ever in that area.

The Massive Investment in Health Care Facilities
Will Either Save America or Bankrupt It

Driving America's highways one is struck by the huge building spree that is taking place in hospitals and health care facilities.  Even rural areas are constructing huge health care complexes.  This will add enormously to the fixed costs of operating America's health care system.  Given the increase in the elderly and the increasing complexity of treating disease these facilities may save the lives of many Americans.  Or they may bankrupt the country.  Or they may do both.

Talk Radio is Passionate, Right Wing and Wrong

Apparently one characteristic that conservatives all have is that they listen to a lot of radio.  Conservatives dominate the airways, and no one, no matter how inimical they are to the ideas of conservatives cannot be struck by the passion of these commentators and their call in listeners.  But no on cannot be struck by just how wrong these people are, how ill-informed, how illogical their arguments.  The great tragedy is that this passion and commitment is not being used to improve the nation, but to divide it.  

There is also the deep pessimism that pervades right wing talk radio.  To listen to these preachers of hate and intolerance is to hear that the country is near total collapse, that it is doomed, that it will be destroyed by the wickedness of liberals, Democrats, environmentalist, gays and lesbians, abortion rights advocates and everyone else who does not completely subscribe to the hard line conservative view.  Yes the nation has a myriad of problems, but for the vast majority the life they lead is the best in the world, the best in history and for the middle class the opportunity in the United States in unparalleled in history or in any other country.  Conservatives charge that their enemies hate America, in actuality listening to them it is clear that they hate America.

The Most Scenic Interstate in the Eastern U. S.

It gets no publicity, but Interstate 26 between Erwin, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina must be not only an engineering marvel but the most beautiful stretch of superhighway east of the Rocky Mountains.  Drive it, it is spectacular.


  1. I live near the Erie Canal and my family took a walk down it yesterday. While the Canal is not a major commercial route anymore, government spending has maintained it as a tourist attraction, which has grown business and improved the local economy up and down its course. I can only shake my head at the willful ignorance shown by conservatives who would let public projects like the Canal wither and die, to the detriment of many.

  2. Right-wing talk radio embodies the cognitive dissonance of Conservatism. It is an ideology based on the past being better than the present, of trying to recapture a Golden Age. To believe that, one has to embrace the worst aspects of the past - which boil down to inequality and social immobility - and deride efforts to ameliorate them.