Tag Archives: self interest

Happy 4th of July (Update)

I hope that everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July.

Let me share this with you:

July 4, 1861 — exactly a hundred and fifty years ago — witnessed the reading aloud, on the floor of Congress, of Abraham Lincoln’s Message to Congress in Special Session.

The circumstantial appeal of Lincoln’s message turned on his defense of the Union against the threat posed by secession, and that is the part most people have in mind when they recall the most famous words of the address: “This is essentially a People’s contest.” Lincoln was speaking for democracy. He was also speaking for a Union, popular in character and progressive in direction, as the heart of all future hopes for democracy.

Another part of the Special Message matters more to us today. For Lincoln saw an unresolvable tension between the constitution of a democratic republic and the policies of aggrandizement and intemperate self-interest that lead from the manners of freedom to the slavish love of power. He spoke of the difference between the work of establishing a constitutional republic and the longer task of maintaining it. But maintaining it against what? Lincoln’s answer was always the same: against the internal pressure of greed, and the external pressure of war. The predicament of the country in 1861, he said, “forces us to ask: ‘Is there, in all republics, this inherent, and fatal weakness? Must a government,
of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?'”

We are now ten years into a policy shared by two successive administrations to plant a new understanding of the spirit of the laws in America. That policy has pretended there is a “trade-off” between liberty and security, and that in a time of crisis, security ought to have the upper hand. The Cheney-Bush and Obama administrations have accustomed us to laws and language concerned above all with the “protection” of citizens — as if there were something higher or more worth protecting than the liberty that is guaranteed by our laws and
the framework of laws, the Constitution. (more…)

Update: I really liked this photo. It captures the 4th at least it did for me. So, I posted it.
American Puppy

Infrastructure

A portion of this was posted below. I thought I needed this subject as a post by itself.

Rachel Maddow has talked about this extensively. Infrastructure. We have to start spending money on our infrastructure. It is nothing like spending money on a sexy building that has your name on it (politicians love to do this). It is not like corporate tax cuts which have the added bonus of getting some return campaign contributions. Instead, spending in infrastructure can give us bridges that don’t fall down. It can also give us a more stable power grid.

This week several states including Kentucky were hit with a major ice storm. I’m not sure how common ice storms are in Kentucky. I grew up in Dallas. We had a major ice storm almost every year. Every year the power went out to some section of the city. This probably still happens today in Dallas. Maintenance. Cutting trees over power lines can prevent some of these power outages. Also, burying power lines so they are not susceptible to the forces of nature can prevent some of these outages. None of these ideas are new. All they would take to fix this problem is some money. I see no reason why in the year 2009 large cities like Louisville should be in the dark because of an ice storm.

The National Guard was called out in Kentucky to help with the ice storm aftermath.

We need to demand more from our local, state and federal officials. There is simply no reason for this.
Watch the video:

The American Society of Civil Engineers has rated our infrastructure a D. Sure, they have a self-interest in this. If we invest in a lot of projects then a lot of engineers will have work. Still, they have a major point. Here are some of the low lights of their report

Aviation D
Despite surging oil prices, volatile credit markets, and a lagging economy, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts a three percent annual growth in air travel. These travelers are faced with increasing delays and inadequate conditions as a result of the long overdue need to modernize the outdated air traffic control system and the failure to enact a federal aviation program.

Bridges C
More than 26%, or one in four, of the nation’s bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. While some progress has been made in recent years to reduce the number of deficient and obsolete bridges in rural areas, the number in urban areas is rising. A $17 billion annual investment is needed to substantially improve current bridge conditions. Currently, only $10.5 billion is spent annually on the construction and maintenance of bridges.

Dams D
As dams age and downstream development increases, the number of deficient dams has risen to more than 4,000, including 1,819 high hazard potential dams. Over the past six years, for every deficient, high hazard potential dam repaired, nearly two more were declared deficient. There are more than 85,000 dams in the U.S., and the average age is just over 51 years old.

Drinking Water D-
America’s drinking water systems face an annual shortfall of at least $11 billion to replace aging facilities that are near the end of their useful life and to comply with existing and future federal water regulations. This does not account for growth in the demand for drinking water over the next 20 years. Leaking pipes lose an estimated seven billion gallons of clean drinking water a day.

Energy D+
Progress has been made in grid reinforcement since 2005 and substantial investment in generation, transmission and distribution is expected over the next two decades. Demand for electricity has grown by 25% since 1990. Public and government opposition and difficulty in the permitting processes are restricting much needed modernization. Projected electric utility investment needs could be as much as $1.5 trillion by 2030.

Hazardous Waste D
Redevelopment of brownfields sites over the past five years generated an estimated 191,338 new jobs and $408 million annually in extra revenues for localities. In 2008, however, there were 188 U.S. cities with brownfields sites awaiting cleanup and redevelopment. Additionally, federal funding for “Superfund” cleanup of the nation’s worst toxic waste sites has declined steadily, dropping to $1.08 billion in 2008, its lowest level since 1986.

Levees D-
More than 85% of the nation’s estimated 100,000 miles of levees are locally owned and maintained. The reliability of many of these levees is unknown. Many are over 50 years old and were originally built to protect crops from flooding. With an increase in development behind these levees, the risk to public health and safety from failure has increased. Rough estimates put the cost at more than $100 billion to repair and rehabilitate the nation’s levees. Continue reading Infrastructure

Palin repeatedly lies

Out of the gallons and gallons of swill that right-wing conservatives throw at the rest of the public on an hourly basis, one of the things that they wanted us to swallow was that Governor Sarah Palin was different. Governor Sarah Palin was authentic. Governor Sarah Palin was “real.” Well, over the weekend, we found out, again, she is none of those things. Governor Sarah Palin lies just as much, if not more, than any other politician. (Find the Troopergate report here for you to read it for yourself.)

From ADN:

“Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda … to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired,” Branchflower’s report says.

“Compliance with the code of ethics is not optional. It is an individual responsibility imposed by law, and any effort to benefit a personal interest through official action is a violation of that trust. … The term ‘benefit’ is very broadly defined, and includes anything that is to the person’s advantage or personal self-interest.” (more… )