DWT Endorses Alexis Tsipras... What Can Greek Voters Learn From Minnesota?
Can Alexis hold back the barbarian banksters?
Tomorrow, Sunday, Greeks will make what could turn out to be their most important decision since they saved Europe from the Persians at the battles of Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea. The final polls show a dead heat between anti-bankster populist Alexis Tsipras and the Greek Mitt Romney, conservative hack and champion of German Austerity, Antonis Samaras. The formerly top center-left party, Pasok (something like the Blue Dog/New Dem wing of the Democratic Party here) is polling third (13%) and has basically lost its following since throwing it's lot in with the conservatives. Tsipras is now the representative of the left and he's promising to renege on the unfair bailout deal that the Germans and Wall Street made with Greece’s conservative corporate whores. Corporatists-- and their media outlets-- across Europe are blasting away at him with all guns. They're very offended that he's standing up for ordinary Greek families and pointing out that Merkel's Europe belongs to the past.
So what does this have to do with Minnesota, which has lots of Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, English, Poles and Germans, but not many Greeks (outside of Dalbo where 692 of them make up just over 1% of the town's population)? Tsipras is all about growing Greece's real economy, not playing losing financial games with banksters. That doesn't make banksters, the masters of Austerity, happy. After all, Austerity works for them... if for no one else-- and even if it spells doom for our sociey's in the long terms. But banksters and financial wheeler-dealers never think beyond the quarter. The long term, in their world, is for suckers. And that brings us to our old pal, Joshua Holland, and his new book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies About The Economy. Because the rich don't want to pay their fair share-- and feel empowered enough to get away with it now-- America's infrastructure is falling apart. Like the conservatives in Greece (and across Europe), the Republican Party, whose only function is to serve the interests of the wealthy, don't give a rat's ass.
In 2010, the New York Times reported, “Thousands of water and sewer systems may be too old to function properly.” On average, a major water line bursts every two minutes somewhere in the country. “For decades,” the Times noted, “these systems-- some built around the time of the Civil War-- have been ignored by politicians and residents accustomed to paying almost nothing for water delivery and sewage removal. And so each year, hundreds of thousands of ruptures damage streets and homes and cause dangerous pollutants to seep into drinking water supplies.”
In 2007, a Minnesota bridge spanning the Mississippi River collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring almost 150 more. Republican governor Tim Pawlenty reacted to the disaster by calling a press conference, where, with a steely look of determination, he lied to the American people. Pawlenty insisted that inspections in 2005 and 2006 had found no structural problems with the overpass. But the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the bridge “was rated as ‘structurally deficient’ two years ago and possibly in need of replacement.” The bridge was borderline, with a 50 sufficiency rating. If a bridge scores less than 50, it needs to be replaced. When the bridge collapsed, more than a hundred others in the Gopher State had a rating below that number. According to the Pioneer Press, the bridge’s suspension system was supposed to receive extra attention with inspections every two years, but the last one had been performed in 2003.
The governor had every reason to obfuscate; in 2005, he’d vetoed a bipartisan transportation package that would have put more than $8 billion into transit fixes during the subsequent decade. Pawlenty was applauded by fellow Republicans for his staunch fiscal “conservatism.”
The Minnesota bridge tragedy occurred just weeks after an eighty-year-old steam pipe in Manhattan blew up, killing one person and injuring dozens more. A year before that, hundreds of thousands of Americans became refugees after New Orleans’s pitiable levees collapsed-- a graphic illustration of shortsighted public policy if ever there was one. More than seven hundred bodies were found in the Crescent City during the following months.
It’s all part of a larger picture. We have a crumbling power grid and are falling behind the rest of the world in broadband technology.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) talks of “congested highways, overflowing sewers and corroding bridges” that are “constant reminders of the looming crisis that jeopardizes our nation’s prosperity and our quality of life.” Every year the engineering society issues a report card grading fifteen categories of America’s once-premier physical plant. In 2009, we got a “D.” The ASCE called the state of the infrastructure in one of the wealthiest countries in the world “a disgrace.”
The organization estimates that it would take an investment of $2.2 trillion during the next ten years to bring our infrastructure up to modern standards. That investment would create thousands of decent jobs and might unleash a new wave of productivity growth.
Nobody seriously believes that the hidden hand of the market is going to step in and inspect and repair our bridges and water systems. When lawmakers don’t fund that work, they know full well that it won’t get done. And the evidence that infrastructure investments result in increased economic productivity is strong; some studies have estimated that every dollar invested in public infrastructure yields a 104 percent return through increases in productivity.
This is a very clear example of relentless tax cuts resulting in reduced economic activity, not the opposite. And it’s a predictable outcome of the rise of “backlash” conservatism. We’ve swallowed thirty years of small-government rhetoric, and it’s led us to a point in which our infrastructure, once the pride of the developed world, is falling apart around us. We’re reaping what we’ve sown.
Do I need to add that this is the foundation of the Romney business model-- and, clearly, how he intends to govern if, tragically, he were elected? As would Antonis Samaras and the other German lapdogs in Greece's ruling elite.