It is about time for the 112th House to come back into session, and the first thing on the agenda appears to be an effort to take away any healthcare reform that have been passed by this Administration.
Next comes an effort to slash Social Security and Medicare, an effort to reverse financial reforms, and proposals to "slash" spending - but only on domestic discretionary items.
If the House majority had its way there would be no restrictions on offshore drilling, no rules designed to prevent climate change - in fact, few if any environmental protections at all... and all of this is intended to bring to life the philosophy that government, for all intents and purposes, should just go away and leave us all alone.
I don't buy into that kind of thinking - not even a little bit - and today we're going to look around the world and see if we can't figure out why.
There is an unalterable rightness about the best Florentine paintings of the period. It is wholly lacking from the late works of Tintoretto. In the schoolmasterly phase, even his greatest pictures could be improved. Only it would need another Tintoretto to do the improving.
--From "Old Masters: Great Artists In Old Age", by Dr. Thomas Dormandy, RSM
So when it becomes tougher and tougher for old folks to get by on whatever the national pension system can provide... What do you suppose they do?
As it turns out, they turn to crime to supplement their incomes - and they're doing it all over the world.
In the UK, local officials in Croyden saw a 15% jump in elderly crime in 2008-2009, Japan has had a multi-year elderly shoplifting problem that tripled in size from 1999 to 2008 (nearly 50,000 elderly Japanese were arrested that year - and a third of them were repeat offenders). Even in Germany, about three times as many elderly people are charged with committing crimes as report that they are the victims of crimes.
Then there's Elizabeth Grube, 70, and her sister, Elaine Volkert, 65, both of Stroudsburg, Pa, who had been dealing about $10,000 worth of heroin a week when they were busted.
What happens when you give up on urban planning, and you empower the market to decide where people should build their homes?
Well... How about Bhopal?
Nobody should have been allowed to build homes next to a chemical plant - but in India, there's not really a lot of control over that sort of thing... so the poor folks built around the plant, and one night, at least 3700 people died from a toxic leak.
In Haiti, lots of "empowerment" combined with lots of poverty has led to so much deforestation that it is possible, from space, to easily discern Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic... because the Dominicans have trees. As often happens, however, the market addresses imbalances, and now the Haitians have a surplus of a new natural resource that the Dominicans don't: landslides.
Building codes are such a pain, aren't they?
Not so much in China, where, in one survey, nearly half of apartment dwellers said they fear the buildings they live in might fall over or something... which they sometimes do. Poor school construction kills Chinese schoolchildren, too - by the thousands - which even the Chinese Government now acknowledges.
Inside Our Borders
Now all of this is theoretical and much of it takes place overseas... but what about right here in the USA?
Consider Detroit: there is a lot less of it these days, for a variety of reasons both economic and social, and what with giving another $4 trillion in tax cuts to the rich... Well, there's just not much money available to help Detroit out.
As a result, the city is considering something that sounds like the prequel to "Robocop": withdrawing services from about 25% of "Old Detroit", tearing down thousands of abandoned buildings, and turning the open space into a sort of "urban prairie".
In fact, "undevelopment" has become so bad that, within the city, wildlife is now abundant: pheasants roam the streets, a coyote was "arrested" inside the Federal Courthouse, and Glemie Dean Beasley makes a fair bit of money selling raccoon (fur or meat, take your choice) to Detroit's chapeau and soul food connoisseurs.
And finally, a few words about the Second Amendment:
There are those among us who wish to advance the concept that anyone can own any weapon they choose, and that, if you carry it to the right political event, it makes the perfect "accessory of intimidation".
To them I would say: "There are lots of examples, already, of countries where that is a part of the culture... and those countries are Somalia, and Afghanistan, and Yemen, and Columbia... and if I'm looking for examples of what I want my own country to be like... it ain't Afghanistan, or Yemen, or Somalia, or Columbia."
I believe in the necessity of government, just as Thomas Paine did... because it's just plain Common Sense... and I do not believe that "this is my land, and all that matters is me and mine..." is going to work as a substitute for a United States of America... and if you believe in a vision of this country that looks like mine, you're going to have to stand up for it, right now, as this Congress gets its crazy on, and make it real clear to those folks that extremism in the defense of liberty, misdirected, is not only a vice - but a good way to lose your liberty altogether.
Those of you who are discouraged are going to have to get up off the proverbial floor and start over, those of you who think you can't win a political fight anymore are going to have to constantly remind themselves that we can and do win in this environment... and those of you who think the only thing left is to grab your guns, hunker down in the bunker, and wait for Jesus to save you... you need to have a cookie.
Or go play in the snow.
Or spend some time fingerpainting with the kids.
Or maybe you just need to knit something.
Whatever it is, do something that reminds you that we're all OK here, and that things aren't really that desperate, and that all that snow, and the yarn, and the kids and the fingerpaints... that is Jesus, right here on Earth, saving you right this very second, and if you're not enjoying it every day for all it's worth, then you will have missed out on your real Earthly reward... and your Heavenly one as well.