People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

We Never Hold Them To Account

There are now an estimated 74,000 government-maintained (or not) bridges in need of repair around the country. Some are even considered dangerous. It has been estimated that it will cost $188 billion to fix them. What should we do?

Well, if you have shit for brains, like the editorialists at the Bristol Herald-Courier do, you call for the American people to blindly fork over the cash. Again:

Infrastructure needs attention

The nation’s aging infrastructure – particularly bridges and highways – was not front page news until the collapse of the interstate bridge in Minneapolis thrust it into the spotlight.

The collapse was a wake-up call in a nation with more than 73,000 structurally deficient bridges and another 79,000 bridges that are functionally obsolete, meaning they are carrying traffic loads that exceed their capacity. The bridges can be brought up to modern standards, but the repair work won’t be cheap.

We must do it anyway.

If ever there was a worthy investment of federal and state tax dollars, this is it. (link)
Worthy? Yes. Money already seized from the American taxpayer for the purpose of repairing America's roads and bridges? Yes.

Two short years ago, the United States Congress allocated a quarter of a trillion dollars ($286,400,000,000) in something called - to show that government employees DO have a sense of humor - the "Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)." In the words of the federal Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the legislation:

... guaranteed funding for highways, highway safety, and public transportation totaling $244.1 billion*, SAFETEA-LU represents the largest surface transportation investment in our Nation's history. The two landmark bills that brought surface transportation into the 21st century—the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21)—shaped the highway program to meet the Nation's changing transportation needs. SAFETEA-LU builds on this firm foundation, supplying the funds and refining the programmatic framework for investments needed to maintain and grow our vital transportation infrastructure.
August 2005. Exactly two years ago: "SAFETEA-LU builds on this firm foundation, supplying the funds and refining the programmatic framework for investments needed to maintain and grow our vital transportation infrastructure."

August 2007: "... [M]ore than 73,000 structurally deficient bridges and another 79,000 bridges that are functionally obsolete" exist throughout this country.

How about we begin this conversation by asking: Where in the hell did that quarter trillion dollars go?

Instead we ask: Half a trillion? "If ever there was a worthy investment of federal and state tax dollars, this is it."

If this were a stockholders meeting, where - hold onto your chair - an accounting of expenditures and improvements derived from them are routinely demanded, you'd be run out on a rail.

Instead it's our country. And we don't ask any questions. We hold nobody accountable. We simply reach into our wallets. And wait for the next request.

We're idiots. We're all idiots.

* The remainder went to pet projects like our congressman's $3.5 million horseback riding trail in Scott County.

Opinion Writing Shouldn't Be Left To The Clueless

I'm left shaking my head, reading this kind of idiotic prattle in a mainstream newspaper:

To save America, we need another 9/11
By Stu Bykofsky, columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News

One month from The Anniversary, I'm thinking another 9/11 would help America.

What kind of a sick bastard would write such a thing?

A bastard so sick of how splintered we are politically - thanks mainly to our ineptitude in Iraq - that we have forgotten who the enemy is.

America's fabric is pulling apart like a cheap sweater.

What would sew us back together?

Another 9/11 attack. (link)

For the love of God

Tough Love

Much will be made of Hillary's call for the federal government to step in and provide assistance (in the billions) to those homeowners who have been, or are about to be caught up in the subprime lending mess. A mess made in large part by themselves. To her and her kind, there's no such thing as personal responsibility. It's always about that village of hers (where money must grow on trees).

Here's something worth pondering in that regard, from the Wall Street Journal ("The Bernanke Call--II"):

No one wants to see someone lose his home to foreclosure. But many of those most at risk bought their homes with little or no money down, and so have very little at stake economically. Bringing in the feds to bail them out would send precisely the wrong message--that risky or overly aggressive borrowing will be rewarded by the government rather than punished in the marketplace. To the extent that bad loans were made, the market needs to clear, not be propped up by federal-aid programs.
This subprime saga is rife with anecdotes about people who took out mortagages that were, on their face, far beyond their means. Is it our job to prevent fools from being separated from their money? If so, how do we go about it? Do we legislate mortgage qualification requirements? If so, most of the subprime lendees wouldn't have gotten a home in the first place. Is that better, or does it provide the same end-result?

With Hillary, it's a matter of rewarding the poor saps and their foolish behavior by bailing them out. Will that do anything to prevent this crisis from ever occurring again?

If that's our answer, I am willing to join the ranks of the fools and allow my mortgage payments to the bank to stop today.

Look, this will get ugly. People are going to lose their homes. Tears will be shed. Oprah will wallow in it. But the alternative is much, much worse.

How About We Get Us a Mission?

This is what NASA is all about these days: Sending a shuttle up to see if they can get it to come back down:
Shuttle Alarm
Ice-Impact Damage Is Found

By Marcia Dunn, AP

August 11, 2007 -- Cape Canaveral, Fla. - NASA discovered a worrisome gouge on Endeavour's belly soon after the shuttle docked with the international space station yesterday - possibly caused by ice that broke off the fuel tank a minute after liftoff.

The gouge - about 3 inches square - was spotted in zoom-in photography taken by the space station crew shortly before Endeavour delivered teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan and six crewmates to the orbiting outpost. (link)
There was a time when space exploration was about ... well, space exploration. Now it's about nothing more than keeping a handful of people alive for a few days in space, and then bringing them back down to earth.

Surely we can find NASA a mission of greater consequence.

Why Don't I Feel Sorry For Them?

Some American farmers seem less concerned about the lawlessness surrounding them, and that they foster, than with making a profit off the backs of those whom they take advantage of.

Take Maureen Torrey for example:

Farmers Call Crackdown on Illegal Workers Unfair
By Julia Preston, The New York Times

Facing the prospect of major layoffs of farmworkers during harvest season, growers and lawmakers from agricultural states spoke in dire terms yesterday about new measures by the Bush administration to crack down on employers of illegal immigrants.

“This is not just painful, this is death to the American farmer,” Maureen Torrey, who runs a family dairy and vegetable farm in Elba, N. Y., said in a telephone interview.

“We’ve tried everything we can do,” Ms. Torrey said. “But they are leaving us with no options.” (link)

Here's a bold concept, Maureen. Pay your workers more than minimum wage.

It's often said that America's farmers have to turn to illegal workers because the work involved with harvesting and maintaining their crops is the kind of labor that Americans won't do. That's just flat out wrong.

Farm labor is shunned by most Americans because it pays poorly. Make your hourly wage more attractive and young people will flock to your fields. Even with the fact that it is, for the most part, seasonal work, at the right price, you'll get your help. But not at 6 or 7 dollars an hour. Make it 10 bucks and I'll pick strawberries in my off hours.

But, you say, that would force you to raise the prices of your products. Yes. But it would also mean your strawberries would be picked. As it stands, you have the best of both worlds. Your commodities are selling well at established prices and your labor costs are low. That works quite well for you.

Something's got to give. And it's not going to be the law of the land. Not any longer.

Pay 'em. They'll come.