Is President Obama smarter than we think?
At first, along with many of his supporters I thought that his failure to keep some campaign promises made him just another politician.
I’m not thinking about the promise to show negotiations on CSPAN. Who but an idiot would believe that putting a microphone front of a politician would produce anything but meaningless speeches? Certainly no real negotiating would take place on TV.
What really bothered me was the failure to even propose a single-payer system or public insurance option – you know, the kind of medical coverage every other first world country has where people aren’t driven into bankruptcy to feed insurance company pigs.
Obama now has more opposition from his former supporters than from his Republican opponents because he failed to even challenge the wonderful insurance companies which milk the healthy for money and refuse to cover the sick, even if they have policies.
I hadn’t actually expected him to succeed against all the insurance companies anyway. It certainly wasn’t any surprise to see that the deciding vote came from a Connecticut Senator since Hartford is still the insurance capital of the country.
That was expected, but what seems so incredible to me was the way he ignored the obvious need to completely rebuild the highway infrastructure of this country.
Everybody likes good roads because virtually everyone living outside New York City has to drive if they want a job.
You see patched interstate highways, deteriorating bridges, overcrowded beltways, and even rail road beds which can’t support fast trains just about every place.
With millions out of work even Republicans would have been hard pressed to vote against massive public works programs repairing bridges and highways – it would have been an investment in the future; put people to work and given construction companies a lot of money (part of which they could use to bribe politicians, oops, I mean, make campaign contributions.)
(Sorry, that just slipped out, companies giving millions of dollars every year to politicians who then vote the way the companies tell them to vote AREN’T bribing them. Not in the U.S.
If it happened in Iraq or South America, it would be a bribe and congress would be up in arms denouncing it, but not in the U.S. because Congress says campaign contributions aren’t the same as bribes.)
Anyway, I’ve been wondering how a man as smart as Obama could make such a dumb mistake ignoring the need for rebuilding the infrastructure and I think I know what happened to all those building projects which were so obviously needed.
What if he is even smarter than I thought?
Consider that cars are one of the biggest problems in this country.
The expansion of the highway system by Eisenhower was the final nail in the coffin for public transportation and that, in turn, only made cars more popular.
So people spend far too much money just buying disposable cars that loose half their value in three years and burn far too much precious oil because good highways made it easy for people to do incredibly stupid things such as routinely live 50 miles or more from their jobs.
Every day highways are clogged in both directions around every U.S. city by people commuting to jobs far from their homes as they pass other people driving the other way to jobs near the first group’s homes.
What if we let highways and bridges deteriorate till it reached a point where people finally felt enough pain and moved to where there was work, or got jobs closer to where they already lived?
The jobs would be there simply because the companies would have to make them available where there were employees or go out of business.
At that time the government could finally introduce plans for workable mass transit.
Nature lovers would never permit all those seldom used rails-to-trails bike paths to be turned back into commuter railroads, but how difficult would it be to simply turn the median or the two inner lanes of multi-lane highways into high speed railroads and commuter trains?
Make them into REAL HOV lanes.
It is much cheaper in both fuel and building costs to move people and goods with trains and, with existing highways already in place, cheap and easy to replace part of every superhighway with train tracks!
As for air travel, it already takes longer for me to fly to Washington from west central PA than to drive so that part of the equation forcing people to adopt mass transit is already in place.
Converting one lane of major highways to high speed rail would solve the country’s massive labor problem (most jobs we’ve lost in manufacturing will never return and the workers don’t have the education for jobs in an information society but construction would be easy to teach and pay well); it would reduce wasted gasoline sitting in traffic jams; reduce pollution; improve living conditions for people who could spend all that commuting time at home with their currently abandoned kids; solve the infrastructure problem easily and inexpensively; and much more.
It would, in fact, bring the U.S. into line with what industrial countries in Europe have been doing for a century.
Are Obama and the Washington elite really smart enough to plan this? They must know it is needed and can’t happen without support from people fed up with spending hours on the road every day.