Head in the Sand, Butt in the Polls
Scott CarrollScott Carroll is a writer in Baltimore City. He is a published ghost writer of narrative nonfiction. His op-ed articles have also appeared in the Baltimore Sun and on The Health Care Blog. Following a several-year stint as business/technology consultant in the Los Angeles office of the world’s largest consulting firm, he returned home to Baltimore where he continued his comprehensive tour of the non-administrative side of the American education system, this time as a teacher, while pursuing his development into a writer. The child’s experience was both the Baltimore City public elementary schools and the premier private schools of Baltimore County, his secondary education a product of the city’s prestigious public engineering high school. The young man was Ivy League and HBCU educated at the engineering schools of Columbia University and Morgan State University, respectively, the latter of which bestowed his B.S. in Industrial Engineering. As a teacher he was a substitute for two years in one of Baltimore’s underperforming neighborhood high schools that was concurrently featured in an HBO documentary about the country’s failing schools. His experience teaching algebra and pre-calculus at one of the city’s lower-performing magnate schools rounds out the comprehensive tour.
A recent New York Magazine article identified four pillars to Barack Obama’s vision for his presidency, as laid out in his 2009 inaugural address: economic recovery and financial-system reform, healthcare reform, combating climate change, and education reform. Another administration priority identified in the article that did not make it into the 2009 address but has become a domestic policy imperative is comprehensive immigration reform.
A simple objective glance at these chosen areas of focus suffices to see an administration adeptly diagnosing the hurting country’s condition. Republican uproar in response to each of these efforts only suggests the same—the groundswells of hot emotion and activism like a patient crying-out, the doctor having found the precise sore point at the heart of the ailment. Amazingly, what this virulent Republican reaction has screamed every time, with regard to consensus imperative action items at the very heart of our country’s ailing condition, has been, invariably, ‘Do nothing, and let the status quo be!’ Unfortunately for the country, as of the 2010 mid-term elections and the 112th Congress, this “Do nothing” voice now holds a majority. Fortunately for the country, however, there were two exceptionally productive years at the outset of the Obama Administration, two years of the Democrat-led 111th Congress, one of the most productive Congresses in US history, in which that body passed some of the most forward-thinking legislation since Medicare and the Great Society.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Obama Administration’s plan to see the country out of its financial dire straits, was about more than just the country’s getting up from a great body blow and getting back to normal. Not only has the United States come out of the historic recession arguably more soundly than any other of the world’s affected economies, but the forward-thinking investments of tax dollars in this legislation pushed through the 111th Congress by the Obama Administration now provide the country a course to dominance over major markets of the future. Commenting on the newly created Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a result of the legislation, tasked with guiding the government’s investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development, Google’s Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, in a 2010 interview with Time Magazine, said the following: “There’s a … vital role the federal government can play in helping to finance the projects that take a technology from the pilot scale to full commercialization.” “The amount of money that’s gonna have to be invested to build and rebuild global energy infrastructure over the next few decades is measured in the many trillions of dollars. We can either be a leader or a laggard in that. We have all the capabilities to be the world leader, but we run the risk of not being that if we don’t make the right public and private investments.”
So Google has dedicated a whole sector of its operations to “Climate Change and Energy Initiatives”; the director of this sector of operations is expressive of the benefit of having a president who understands the vital importance of this work, still largely in the experimental stage, and who supports it in his policy; and Republicans don’t believe in climate change: they mock the president’s policy of investing tax dollars in renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development as a naive giveaway to a kind of throw-away, fanciful non-industry. The Republican attitude toward renewable energy and energy efficiency—the now majority position in the US House of Representatives—is effectively summed-up in pending legislation in local Republican-led legislatures like that of Arizona. In Arizona a proposed law seeks to levy a new tax, a purposely prohibitively costly new tax, on homeowners in the now “booming”—in the words of ThinkProgress.org—rooftop solar-energy market, a rapidly growing market with a strong base of middle-class homeowners in zip codes with median incomes ranging from just $40,000 to $90,000. American innovative and manufacturing supremacy over an enormous growth industry of the future be damned! Climate be damned! ‘There are great American and multi-national companies poised to produce oil and natural gas-enough for our energy needs, if we only just get out of the way and let’m!’ scream Republicans. They categorically say “No!” to a carbon tax. The Republican policy position concerning the world’s rapidly deepening climate crisis?—’Do nothing, and let the status quo be!’
With regard to GOP opposition to the administration’s common sense solutions to the regulatory lapses that allowed really the simplest Ponzi scheme-esque multi-trillion dollar Wall Street fraud to be perpetrated upon country and world, the familiar mantra—the now majority position in the US House of Representatives—is still, amazingly, still, “Deregulation!” Healthcare, the Republicans say, would be better off if returned to the old tax-payer-financed emergency room de facto universal coverage, rather than our historic new near-universal health insurance system into which all would-be emergency room dead-beats are required to contribute throughout their lives—’Do nothing, and let the status quo be!’ About the millions of undocumented persons living and working in the country, Republicans feel that the current purgatory should continue in perpetuity, with no new clearly defined policy to govern the way we do immigration going forward—’Do nothing, and let the status quo be!’
And really, this is all the fault of Reasonable America, Reasonable America which is, by every poll, a clear majority of the electorate. In a democracy you get the government that you earn. What the United States of America has earned is a competent and in-touch president totally hamstringed by a legislative branch of illogical ideologues like science-disinterested, socially reactionary, unsophisticated Third World religious fundamentalists utterly unable to govern in a modern world. After coming out in droves to make history in the last two well-hyped, kind of pop-presidential elections, Reasonable America has sat on its butt through the not-so glamorous mid-terms in which Republican ideologues had their butts in the polls electing the rest of the government.