Thursday, August 18, 2011

America, In Reverse

All it takes is one quick read-through of this morning's New York Times--a superficial read of a superficial view of America, admittedly--to get me thinking that my wonderful country, like Jubilation T. Cornpone in 'Li'l Abner,' is leading the charge, right back to the rear.
A few articles of note.
The Republicans (except Mitt Romney) hate the EPA. They want to shut it down, board it up, stop it from enforcing environmental regulations.
Which means, what?
They want children drinking dirty water. Breathing dirty air?
I thought we all agreed, a long time ago, that a clean environment and a healthy economy aren't opposites--they're mutually reinforcing.
Now, the Republicans are charging, straight back to the rear.
Then there's the article on mass transit in America.
Let's review the situation.
Gas prices are high and likely going higher. Auto ownership, with insurance, is expensive. The cost of living is up. Jobs are scarce.
Ordinary people need transit to get to work. They need a good transit system for their own needs. America needs transit to conserve energy.
So the news is, transit fares are up, service is down--and ridership is way up, 10 billion trips per year, levels not seen since the 1950s.
And this is good for America, how exactly?
But don't despair.
The op-ed page has a great solution, offered up by a guest columnist, Jennifer Finney Boylan, an English professor at Colby College. Jennifer's father had a wonderful practice at dinners where all kinds of people who were quite happy to disagree with each other would gather around the table and argue the issues of the day.
Then, at a certain point in the dinner-table debate, Jennifer's dad would announce that it was time for every guest to argue the opposite side of the issue they were debating--to reverse their earlier position.
Jennifer's suggestion: the Democrats come up with $2 billion in tax cuts, the Republicans are assigned $2 billion in tax increases.
Ding! Everyone argue the opposite side!
Maybe that's a way to get our country moving ahead, instead of charging full speed, right back to the rear.

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