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A Sad Scene in America, the Past Dishonored and the Future Neglected

Our nation has just been shook by a completely home grown, manufactured and totally avoidable economic crisis--the politization of the USA's ability to pay its debts. This has resulted in the downgrade of our country's credit worthiness--another blow to our economy and to the standing of the USA in the eyes of the world.

Now, of course, pundits and rightwingers will call even more loudly for national austerity and the dismantling of our social security net--especially for seniors. If we are to follow their hysteria and take more money out of the economy, we will only deepen the recession and drive the economy and the country further into an economic hole.

We have a jobs crisis. Creating jobs and working toward full employment is one of the best ways to put money in the economy, generate consumer demand, increase the tax base and restore economic health and sanity.

Further, our country has real and immediate needs that can only be met by people who are working.

Rightwing Republicans twiddle the nation's thumbs while we squander America's vast energy resources--the powerful wind on two coasts and down the middle of the country that could spin the turbines of vast wind farms, the sun that shines day after day in the deserts of our southwest, coal fired power plants the need upgrading and the installation of scrubbers and carbon sequestration. All this would require the upgrading of our transmission lines and electricity infrastructure. All this work would require thousands and thousands of people. Just as importantly, it would be an investment in America's future. China understands this. That's why they spend 2 billion dollars a month on renewable energy. Germany understands this. That is why they are working to be the leader of the world in solar power.

Investing in America. In this day of know nothing and do nothing tea bagging Republican members of Congress it seems like a quaint idea. What an affront to America's history! The Louisiana Purchase, the building of the transcontinental railroad during the Civil War, the buying of Alaska, the purchase and development of our national parks, the space program, the building of our interstate highway system, the arming of the Free World with ore and taconite from the Iron Range and steel from South Chicago and Gary and the factories across our Heartland during World War II and more and more and more.

We have great infrastructure needs today which can only be met by people who are working. Crumbling bridges and highways and dilapidated train stations and airports and rail lines and sidewalks and sewer and water systems all need repair. Most Americans would be horrified if they knew the conditions of the lines our tap water flows through.

In the age of austerity and tax cuts for the wealthy and privatization and the impoverishment of our nation's government we drift toward a country that no longer aspires nor cares to be great, that is content to let the sinews of equality of opportunity shred, that has lost sight of the Common Good, an America that dishonors its past and neglects its future.

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Stewart Acuff

Stewart Acuff is the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Chief of Staff and co-author of Getting America Back To Work.

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