Let the adults run the show awhile

By Steve Estes

With absolutely no offense intended to the world’s most beloved cartoon mouse, it’s high time for the Washington, DC-based Mickey Mouse Club to close up shop.

It’s high time for the cut-at-all-costs; except defense, corporate welfare, high-income earners and Congressional perks; wingnuts to step aside and let the big boys and girls get on with restoring America for Americans.

The premise is really very simple. Cut what you don’t need for the security of the nation’s most vulnerable, which in many cases are the elderly who fought, died, bled and sacrificed to make us the greatest nation on Earth, and put it into an aging infrastructure that without such help will soon be the death-knell of all  business in this land.

One less aircraft carrier puts us at no more danger of invasion by a foreign military than the dozen or so we already have, which by the way is still twice as many as any other naval force on the planet. One less fleet of fighter jets will not leave us vulnerable to armed attack from the air. Several hundred fewer tanks will have absolutely no effect on combat readiness the next time a Republican war-monger decides that imperialism is the best way to expand the military-industrial complex.

Eliminate pay-for-death civilian contractors who continue to rake in big bucks only by keeping war going with large corporate donations to the warmongers in Congress and save billions more to put toward programs that will mean something to America.

And with the few billion or so dollars we save by not buying military hardware that we have absolutely no need for, and will only sell to the highest bidder so we have to develop something more elaborate, we can put real people to real work doing the real work that needs to be done of bringing our nation’s critical infrastructure back from the brink of the dead.

When highway bridges collapse under their own weight and our leaders don’t immediately halt production of unwanted tanks—remember, military leaders asked to halt the production of new tanks—and put that money into long-term fixes for critical bridges, there is a serious priority issue.

The Mickey Mouse routine from our Tea Party nitwits prevented even serious discussion on this issue because it increased spending on good jobs, rather than corporate profit for the companies producing more tanks.

Cutting spending is easy when increased revenue is a by-product of those cuts.

We might lose 1,000 military/industrial complex jobs by trading unnecessary Pentagon spending for critical infrastructure spending. But we gain more jobs than that in real people working real jobs repairing real infrastructure that is critical to business in this country.

And it’s a net gain for us because our tax revenues go up with more people working, and spending goes down as a result because we get people off extended unemployment, making them able to spend money again in our consumer-driven economy, ratcheting up taxes again, so a net gain all the way around.

Highways all over the country need serious work. Bridges all over the country need serious work. Ports and airports all over the country need serious work. National parks need serious work.

And we have serious people looking for those jobs.

What we have in Congress, however, are people beholden to an ideology that has proven time and again not to work in recovering an economy. We’re so concerned in Washington with denying affordable health care and eliminating safety nets for the poorest among us that we can’t see the road under us falling into the dirt, the bridge we need to drive over falling into the sea, and our coastal communities being attacked by rising sea levels.

In many cases, that’s simply willful blindness. But, sadly, in other cases, it’s a manifestation of the greed-trumps-all philosophy fostered by corporate America.

Infrastructure issues hit close to home as well. Many of the bridges on US 1 are approaching their estimated useful life span. Transportation officials are so concerned about the state of Niles Channel Bridge that we aren’t allowed to hang a sewer pipe from the bridge that carries effluent part time. No Name Key Bridge is under emergency repair status. Weight limits were downgraded on Palm Drive Bridge in Baypoint before the county got money cut loose to fix the issue.

As an island county, we should be critically concerned about our critical infrastructure. Without the bridges, commerce stops. One bridge malfunction and no amount of advertising will entice people to return to the Florida Keys.

This isn’t rocket science. It is simple consumer-driven economics. It is keeping America strong by ensuring dependable transportation routes, shipping ports and coastal communities.

Take federal money away from unneeded, high-dollar defense programs, and put it into much-needed, lower-dollar, critical infrastructure rebuilding. Our future depends on it.


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