A Tale of Two Walls   Leave a comment

I don’t know why we keep watching the debates. Our candidate isn’t in them and I won’t be voting for either of the candidates that are. I think I have Brad halfway convinced not to vote for Trump. But, anyway, we watched them because we’re like moths to a flame that just cannot resist heading toward the pain.

In the middle of the debate, Hillary Clinton, perhaps not realizing that some voters actually study these issues, claimed that … unlike Donald Trump … she believes in building bridges, not walls.

Not a fan of the wall. Not voting for Donald Trump. The fact is that Hillary has never built anything her life. I doubt if she knows the first thing about bridges other than that they are a convenient way to get her chauffeured limosine to one of her staged events and the only wall she knows about is the one that has recently been constructed around her Chappaqua compound.

I say “compound” because … well, wealthy people have compounds and Chappaqua has a lot of wealthy people. Brad used to live there, so we know some of them. Only they aren’t so exclusive to build a wall around their houses.

Image result for image of wall around hillary clinton's compound

But, hey we know a thing or two about Hillary Clinton and building bridges. Over a decade ago, some members of Congress loudly objected to what they termed “ The Road to Nowhere.” Then Alaska Senator Ted Stevens had worked the project into a transportation bill to construct a bridge from mainland Ketchikan to  Gravina Island where Ketchikan’s airport is located.

The bridge would have been a much-needed alternative for those who must rely on a ferry across the choppy waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Since there are no roads over the Tongass mountains into Southeast Alaska, some 200,000 passengers annually depend on airline travel, but the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects. 80% of Alaska communities are not accessible by road because, although we are the largest state in the union, we have the fewest lane-miles of road in the nation.

I personally didn’t have a beef with tabling the Gravina Island project because I know people who make a good living operating water taxis to the airport, but activities around the same time that the Gravina Island bridge proposal was struck down got my attention and drew my ire. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware had little trouble getting approval for a new bridge, partly financed with federal funds, to be built over his state’s Indian River Inlet between Rehoboth and Bethany beaches. After a series of complications including labor disputes, the Charles W. Cullen Bridge was finally completed in May 2012, just in time to accommodate summer beach-goers.

Like a lot of the infrastructure of the United States, the earlier Indian River bridges had fallen into dangerous disrepair. Our clogged, stalled cities now compare unfavorably with some of those in other countries, giving many of us a reason to believe the nation is in decline.

Recently there was an illustrated list on the Net of the world’s current crop of spectacular and unusual bridges.  It was kind of impressive, but not one of them was located here in the United States.

During the “Bridge to Nowhere” fracas, Congress expressed alarm at how high the bridge would have to be built to enable cruise ships and other substantial maritime craft to navigate beneath it.  Japan apparently met the challenge of the Eshima Ohashi bridge which soars across Lake Nahaumi, rising at a gradient of 6.1% to allow ships to pass below. It was the generosity of Allied victors that rebuilt Japan after World War II.  Seventy years later, that country’s technology is putting America to shame.

Every election year, the candidates promise to spend more taxpayer money improving our crumbling infrastructure.  They bait the trap with promises of massive job creation. Consider the very first of the Obama administration’s stimulus bills – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — which pledged to go heavy on shovel-ready construction projects that would result in thousands of work opportunities.  They didn’t happen, by the way.  President Obama later joked that the shovels weren’t ready. Were they on back-order perhaps, maybe from China?

Even if the shovel-ready construction jobs were for real, how many American workers are actually trained to do them? The mindset of Americans has changed radically  since the Great Depression. Back then, people feared starvation and that realistic fear propelled desperate citizens to take on whatever employment they could find. Some of our country’s most formidable infrastructure was built by willing, hard-working neophytes who learned as they earned.

The current crop of out-of-work Americans has neither the empty bellies nor the passion to enlist in such physically grueling work. Democratic politicians mollycoddle the masses and justify illegal immigration by insisting there are jobs that Americas will not, possibly cannot, do!

So if those shovel-ready jobs were to somehow materialize, we would have to import the shovels and the workers to wield them. Although out population has multiplied many times since we industrialized America, we might still have to resort to what we did centuries ago: get our labor from the poorer  countries  around the globe. Some of these imported workers will have had experience in building infrastructure “back home.”  Can any of the desk-chained bureaucrats in Washington sense the ironic tragedy in this scenario?

The bottom line, written in red ink, is that for all the funds expended, the Obama administration’s vaunted economic policies have led  largely to a  dead end. The promised bridges to prosperity went nowhere. Now we find outselves on the cusp of another election. The politicians are making promises again. I think it’s kind of interesting that when Donald Trump dares to speak out on the obvious deterioration of our airports, bridges and roads, he is accused of needless pessimism by the Democratic challenger. It’s why Trump supporters pick him over her because they see him as a realist. They realize you can’t fix a problem if you pretend it doesn’t exist.

But both Clinton and Trump are just making promises they cannot and will not keep. The country is $20 trillion in debt. Any government money spent on infrastructure improvement now would have to come from some other area of the economy. What do we want to do without for the sake of better roads and bridges?

I don’t know that Clinton or Trump really understands that. They both live lives that are nothing like the lives you and I live. Hillary Clinton will never rebuild our bridges because she’s too busy building a wall around her own home to keep her safe from … uh, well, it would seem from the other rich people of Chappaqua New York. Are there a lot of millionnaires breaking into one another’s homes in that enclave of rich white people? Brad’s graduating class say it’s a pretty safe part of the country. Neither does Clinton hold herself to the same standards that apply to the rest of us. In Hillary Clinton’s world, she’s allowed to break rules and bomb countries, but the rest of us ought to pay our taxes and never criticize the government … unless her opponent should happen to win … then it’s okay to criticize the government.

Donald Trump has  never lived the life that you and I lead. By all accounts, he’s not been a perfect man. He’s built a business that employs a lot of people and provides valuable goods and services to willing customers. When that is compared to starting four wars and increasing the scope of two others … lying to Congress … leaving four men in harm’s way (that she likely caused) when she had something she could do about it, he’s a more positive choice than she is ….

Which is not saying a whole lot.

So, I look at the electoral field and apply my own standards to them. Gary Johnson didn’t become rich because he married the right man or because his dad was rich. He built a handyman company up into a multi-million dollar construction firm. His governmental service was an overall positive. New Mexico’s government was in fiscal crisis when he became governor and the state’s economy was in horrible condition. When he left office eight years later, he had a 70% approval rating, the state’s budget had a surplus and the economy of the state was growing. He did this by largely following fiscally conservative/libertarian economic policies. He’s not perfect, but he would clearly be a good choice on domestic issues.

Yeah, a lot is being made of his occasional flubs. Oh, my God, he doesn’t know where Aleppo is? Maybe, maybe not. He has said he thought it was an acronym and I can well believe that. But there’s an alternative way to look at it. His mind was not focused on Syria, which means he’s the only one in this contest who doesn’t want to bomb Syria into ruins.

So he can’t name a world leader he admires. I can’t either. Libertarians tend to be suspicious of leaders in general, so admiring them is a dodgy thing for us. I can’t think of a single one who rises to the level of my admiration today. There are a few leaders on the local level I admire, but I suspect I’d stop admiring them if they desired to go onto non-local office, simply because I would see the power going to their heads.

But, again, it really comes down to Gary Johnson would be a domestic policy president who would have to outsource his foreign policy to advisors. What is so wrong with that? Clinton and Trump are already both plotting which countries they want to subjugate under American hegemony or bomb into the Stone Age. Where has that Presidential mindset gotten us in the past? That’s right. $20 Trillion in Debt.

Maybe we need a president who focuses on what’s going on here in the United States … that worries more about our economic stability than whether England stays in the EU … who doesn’t draw imaginary lines in the sand of other countries, but leaves it to their leaders to decide what is best for them.

Imagine what we could do for our infrastructure if we weren’t always interfering in the business of other countries!

Oh, maybe we might even find the money to repair our bridges … or build some roads to communities in Alaska.

 

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