America's Failing Infrastructure; Decay From Within
There is something severely wrong with the way people are thinking. I see it on the job, on the street, and especially
in the things our government leaders are saying and doing.
Case in point: Ever since rock singer Michael Jackson dangled his baby over the rail of his high-rise apartment
nearly a year ago it seems to be vogue for men to hold babies over railings. Recently one baby slipped from a man's hands
and tumbled seven stories to the ground. It made headlines because the little tyke survived the fall.
In a city near my home, night marauders with guns blazing are terrorizing the community. People are afraid to
go out for fear of being gunned down by gangs specializing in drive-by shootings. The police appear to be stumped and unable
to catch these hoodlums. Shades of Mad Max for sure.
Then there are the child and family killings. Christian Longo and Scott Peterson are among the high-profile stories
about fathers convicted or accused of slaying their entire families. Mothers are killing their infant children, without explanation.
The insanity flows on many levels. I was recently present at a town council meeting in which a resident complained
about a denial of his request for a building permit. He explained that he wanted to replace a carport that had fallen into
poor repair. But changes in the zoning laws since his home and carport were erected rated the structure as nonconforming.
Thus the town's zoning administrator refused to grant a permit for replacing it.
That council debated this simple issue for about 30 minutes or more. It was made more confusing by a hired lawyer,
who was so encumbered by legalese that he could not see the simplicity of this problem. The homeowner simply wanted the council
to override the decision of the zoning administrator so he could get on with his intended job.
The council, however, failed to do what was asked of it. After lengthy debate over a non-debatable issue, members
concluded that the homeowner needed to appear before the zoning board of appeals and file a request for a variance. The fee
for doing this was going to be $300, plus a month or more of waiting to see if the project would be allowed. All he wanted
was a simple request to replace an existing roof with four poles to shade his car from the sun.
One council member, who seemed to have his head screwed on right, called it extortion. He raised the ire of the
others, but I think he was quite right.
This is the kind of confused thinking that is leading the American people to follow an ill-willed president into
aggressive actions with a powerful war machine against little countries that lack the force to fight back. At least in the
battlefield. If it weren't for the tragic bloodshed, I would find it amusing that the Iraqi army disbanded and turned itself
into an unpredictable and effective guerilla fighting force as our army was bearing down on Baghdad. Our military didn't expect
it, and doesn't seem to be prepared for this kind of war. We could now be committed in Iraq for years, without ever seeing
the light at the end of a long dark tunnel.
Too bad Mr. Bush and his cronies in Washington don't see the real needs in America. We have millions of people
struggling without health insurance, who can't afford the high price of buying drugs, and now that the economy has gone south,
are starting to lose their homes. On top of this, our schools are deep in debt and failing miserably, and we have a crumbling
infrastructure that needed, at the last count, an estimated $1.3 trillion to rebuild.
The word infrastructure means necessary things like roads, bridges, damns, power, water and sewer systems, schools
and public buildings, which keep a society running. Failure to fix and replace this stuff is a clear sign of a crumbling society.
Instead of leading his country in positive ways to repair itself from within, George W. Bush has been waging
an aggressive war against an unseen and unknown exterior enemy that supposedly attacked our country on 9-11, 2001. To this
day, the so-called henchman behind this assault, Osama bin Laden, has not been captured. Now we are battling another war in
Iraq where dictator Saddam Hussein also cannot be captured. But then, the reason for our attack, his cache of weapons of mass
destruction, can't be found either. Perhaps if and when we find Hussein, we will find his deadly store of weapons.
The direction the Bush Administration is taking us has destroyed a robust and healthy economy, and dipped this
country in a deficit so dark our children's grandchildren may still be paying for it. They will if there still is a United
States when it comes their turn.
The point to all of this is that the signs point to a decay within that is so deep rooted, I fear we are
on the verge of economic, political and social collapse.
Alas, when I was a young lad, enjoying the plush times of the 1950s and 60s, I never dreamed that I would live
to see the end come upon us so quickly.