I really can’t blame Obama for wanting us to have all good things for nothing.  I always wanted to have things simply fall into my lap.  Unfortunately, this isn’t how life works.  When bad times hit, far from seeing an outpouring of sympathy, I saw that the only road open was for me to shoulder great burdens and somehow, survive.  If I had to haul heavy loads up deep snow mountainsides, I carried the loads.  When violent storms blew, I had to be outside, wrestling with things despite the dangers.

President Obama went before Congress to do what all Presidents have done there since I became old enough to hear these speeches: promises of lots of money for every imaginable thing, promises of better health, better finances, better infrastructure, better military…ah, the standing ovations Presidents get when they talk about spending money on the military, in particular!


The spending on the military always bothers me the most.  This is the definition of waste. Proof of this is painfully obvious: the US spends more than all the world together, on our military.  Yet, the main applause line in any speech by a President with Congress gets the biggest applause when Presidents promise to make America ‘stronger’ via more spending in this sector.  So tonight, Obama promised more military spending and got the desired mass applause.


At this point in time, the US is so accustomed to always increasing not only military spending, but the reach of our empire, the expectation will be, the masses will allow Congress to spend obscene funds on military projects.  Today, I wrote a depressing story about how little news of the mayhem going on in  Iraq or Afghanistan makes even the slightest news in the US.  This is truly curious, considering how we talk all the time about spending money on the military, yet, news about actual fighting is virtually censored here.  


So, Obama talked about how we are going to ‘build’ America.  Now, I look around and aside from the lack of good train service and the lack of rational housing systems, this country is overbuilt, not under-built.  Huge tracts of good farmland has been paved over and covered with oversized housing and shopping venues of dubious utility.  Most of our major cities outside of a very few, such as NY City, San Francisco, etc, are virtually dead or in serious ruin.  The center no longer holds as nooses made of multilane highways strangle these cities.  


Many capitals of states are set in the middle of these wastelands, for example, one of the wealthiest states, New Jersey, has Trenton as its capital and this is also the poorest city in New Jersey.  

YouTube – Michigan Central Station – 1987



This picture of the present Amtrak station in Detroit looks like a wasteland.  The parking lots around it are overgrown with weeds.  There is virtually no businesses anywhere near the station.  It is not accessible to anything if one is on foot.  Nearly all the train stations I picked at random to illustrate the ugly system we have look virtually the same: the main depot for Amtrak is more often than not, in a total wasteland.  The only exceptions are Washington, DC, where the lovely station has been totally rehabilitated and NYC where the Amtrak station is an ugly troll-like cave.

YouTube – Union Station Ruins- Gary, Indiana


YouTube – Field Trip to the Abandoned Train Station


YouTube – Ruins of an Empire



Here is the St. Louis Amtrak station.  It is a shed.  There is nothing one can walk to from this site.  Unlike all of the major train stations of the Victorian era that were in the center hubs of cities, the modern American system is mostly in isolated areas, ugly and friendless.  


Obama talked a great deal about ‘rebuilding America.’  I have lived through endless years of this sort of ‘rebuilding’ and the net result has been the near-total destruction of the cities and the rapid expansion of ring communities that are very disconnected from the center of these hubs. Newark, New Jersey is the biggest city and it is a total wreck and after tremendous spending, can barely function as a city that is civilized.  The lack of civility in our cities is an astonishing feature of the American empire.


We just spent nearly a trillion dollars, ‘rebuilding’ Iraq and have only a huge prison-like ’embassy’ to show for all this, the rest was frittered away by corruption.  The US can’t afford to lose infinite sums, rebuilding messes created by our strange systems we have created.  Obama talked a lot about using future tax money to upgrade buildings.


This supposedly was so we wouldn’t ‘waste energy’.  Another fool’s errand.  Our trade competitors don’t live in the sort of luxurious climate-controlled systems we grew used to in the last 50 years.  This need to be constantly comfortable is a modern thing.  It increased productivity somewhat but is a net loss for our nation since we grossly over-consume energy.


Putting up many alternative energy systems is a wonderful thing.  But ONLY if we produce the energy systems we buy to install.  This is where the rest of the world comes in: our trade rivals do not want us to build systems here, they want us to consume their imported systems.  The Chinese and Japanese have been very intent on building solar energy factories, for example.


Obama talked very soothingly about our massive problems and what troubled me most was, how he loudly supported free trade.  He disarmed all possible ways we could improve our basic industrial situation and made it clear to all the creditor nations who happen to be also the biggest export-profit centers, that we will do absolutely nothing to stop this.  We will not protect ourselves.  Period.


Congress, being corrupt and in the pay of foreign powers, applauded this declaration of war against American workers.  Instead, Obama suggested that we ALL go back to school!  WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?  He had no suggestion, what we should learn and how this will improve things.  Maybe I can be hired by a university to teach ‘The Cave of Wealth and Death: an operation manual’, or some such.  Or maybe, ‘Free Trade Is Extremely Expensive’.  Or, ‘Pride Comes Before The Fall of the G7’.  Heh.  How about, ‘Libra and Gold Go Together’?  Anyway, they won’t hire me.


And I can’t get a degree in ‘Religion and Wealth’ courses because then, I would have to go after the Vatican or various cult religious leaders who live in luxury, tax free.  I know that a course of ‘Gnomes, Sex and Money’ will be fully subscribed by the students. Especially if we hold the classes in a bar somewhere.  Maybe I could start my own school and get money from the government?  If they are going to hand it out like candy, I may as well get my paws on some of the loot.






P.O. BOX 483

BERLIN, NY 12022

Make checks out to ‘Elaine Supkis’




Filed under .money matters, Free Trade, Politics


  1. Simon

    forget about the trains…maybe they should try something easier like the roads and highways
    Big Dig comes to mind 🙂

  2. emsnews

    Tunnels. We need more tunnels. And deep pits. And immense holes in the ground.

  3. jeremy/Nashville

    I think Obama’s speech was very cliche….a speech to get cheers….a pep-rally-speech. It is so easy to give a speech that makes people stand and give applause….but what happens when the speech is over and everyone goes home? Things go right back to the same ol’ thing, thats what happens! And to top it off, I read where Bernanke is saying our recession could be over by the end of the year. haha! Yes, I so trust what he has to say. NOT!!

    Also, Elanie, I just visited the mall across the street from where I’m staying here in Costa Mesa, CA. It hsa to be the most upscale mall I’ve ever seen. It is an impressive building and beautifully landscaped….and the shops are all very upscale.(Bloomingdale’s, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Aramni, Cartier, etc) But…..the mall was dead! There were hardly any people in the mall, employees were standing around. I certainly wasn’t shopping in these stores! I was just checking out what was across the street! haha!
    ELAINE: Hi, Jeremy! Glad to see you are settling in. Yes, the upscale malls here where I live are also dead as doornails except for the Apple store.

  4. MrT

    Elaine you have been hired to teach.
    This is your university.
    You are the teacher.

    I read that Ontario now assembles more cars than Michigan.
    The workers in Canada get health coverage from the Canadian
    Government. Auto companies prefer Ontario, no health costs.

    What has always pissed me off is that Congress takes our tax money
    to give themselves free health care but when it comes to the tax payers
    its called evil socialism. Let the senators buy private health insurance.

    Oh, and even though the health insurance business is so huge its 1/7
    of our economy, there is no regulatory agency at the federal level.
    If you have a problem you go to state level agency.
    Ditto with Germany and Japan. The US system stinks. But now that the auto unions are dead, maybe the workers will support a national system.

  5. Simon

    It was a great show.
    A lot of obseqious representatives standing up, clapping and sitting down again
    Ad nausem
    Reminds me of Yes Minister! during some of the better seasons

  6. igneous

    Great post.
    I was thinking maybe I should set up a Elaine Meinel Supkis group on Facebook. Thats one way that Elaines readership could be extended.

  7. if

    Anybody, fond of hysterical masses cheering the leader, can look at “Triumph of the Will”(Triumph des Willens). http://tinyurl.com/5jozs8
    The film of the Sixth Party Rally of the National Socialists, which took place from September 4th to September 10th, 1934, in Nuremberg. This was Leni Riefenstahl’s second — and only full-length — film for the National Socialist Party (NSDAP), and as an award-winning masterpiece of camerawork, direction and editing, it is widely agreed by virtually every film critic to be the greatest propaganda film of all time.
    It made the germans feel-god for a few years. We know the end result. I would prefer a dull leader who knows what has to be done and is able do it.

  8. if

    Japan exports drop 46% in January

  9. Simon

    Looks like recovery by media is the plan
    Recovery is “imminent”

  10. if

    An Iranian ‘Sputnik’ and the new world order

  11. criticalcontrarian

    Simon: I too watched the Obama’s cheerleader speech to Congress. The only thing I could appreciate about the whole thing was how eloquently he lied to himself and the American people. What a far cry from Dubya! But guess what, Dubya was a moron, which means he had an excuse. This Obama guy is setting himself up really bad fall. I pity him.

  12. Melponeme_k

    The first time I visited France, I was absolutely amazed by the train service they had. Local trains to everywhere, and easy access to trains traveling to every major suburb and city outside Paris. The trains were clean, on time and relatively safe. The stations were even situated in convenient areas which were only quick walks to major tourist spots (Versailles comes to mind). Even DisneyParis had a major train hub right to it’s front door (Interesting that Disney never pushed for this for the parks in the US).

    I recognized remnants of this service in NY but it has been totally decimated. How robbed I feel for this.

    Obama is in the pay of the money people. I can’t even read the comments anymore at the major news sites. So many people closing their eyes to reality and hoping that the President is the second coming. He isn’t and the only way he would change is if the people exert their own pressure. But I don’t see that happening.

  13. Simon

    These days Congress seem to be paid actors who vote and talk whatever the “elite” want them to.
    Need to be in the Senate to be considered a junior partner (in crime?)

  14. Simon

    Also look for the media blitz in the next few days telling us how great we are. My take is instead of talking about stats (which no one believe any more ) there will be a focus on the future PLAN
    See there will be lots of plans… yes

  15. criticalcontrarian

    If you like real stats check out this site, it very informative:

  16. David

    Education in what?????
    I have 3 degrees, one in science, one in sociology, and one in liberal arts,and besides being able to think through some things like we all try to do, these degrees are not very salable in today’s economy.
    Where I live in here in the Armpit South, with all industry and most jobs shipped to China because of free trade, besides being a retired teacher (which pays nearly enough to buy groceries) a lot of of my earnings come from doing outside work with tools, trucks and heavy equipment. So, to ease my tired body, maybe I need another college degree…maybe a PhD in how to make a living without a job (Oh! I forgot! That’s what a great many PhDs do already).
    Nobody asked me lately to use my scientific or technological knowledge to help develop new energy sources or to help develop a revitalized US computer industry or to help design a US maglev bullet train system. So, since I have property and ties here (you are owned by your property)I do service work and try to get along any way I can.
    In my view, education is a great thing, but today’s education is, for a large part, a people warehousing and people training process, where people are taught to be helpless and compliant to a system that leaves them unemployed and is cheating them out of a fair share of great wealth that should rightfully be shared with them.
    Basic critical thinking skills are needed, not learning huge amounts of information that can be learned in a few minutes from the Internet.
    So, aside from basic reading, writing, mathematics and science-technological skills, we also need education in basic reasoning and basic liberal philosophical-political concepts and thinking processes so people can analyze situations for themselves. We also need ethics education coupled with an array of history courses so people can look at the past and understand what will work and what will not work in relation to government and society, and even technology.
    Finally, we need a huge input of art and aesthetics in people’s thinking and lives. Future society does not need more damned ugly, unnatural, godawful buildings lining the highways of America. We need beauty and meaning in our lives also, and this means an appreciation of fine art, music and aesthetics in daily life that makes the meaning of an ordinary life seem extraordinary. We need justice, and systems of justice that protect us from human greed and idiocy…and these are in dire need of rebuilding…back into an ethical model that will sustain our nation rather than destroy it.
    In summary, any future life education needs to teach three concepts:
    Life must be seen as being valuable (not expendable like today). Our basic needs must be met with quality products and quality systems that ease our suffering and make living tolerable and even enjoyable at times…not huge amounts of throw-away junk for everyone, but modest amounts of sustainable living items with a lot of super high quality in everything we make and do. I think of a few pieces of old pre-WWII American made machinery I still use sometimes…super quality, works perfectly and lasts forever.
    Education in an appreciation of our humanness and concepts of love, caring and worthiness, and ethics…Also an appreciation of art music, nature and each other…including recreating non-commercialized traditions of (non-genetically related) family clusters, a sense of closeness, caring community from birth to death. Work diligently to rid ourselves of the terrible aloneness that comes from contemporary life.
    Future laws need to be based on providing uncorrupted justice systems within society… A return to Our Constitution is a good start, and especially the Bill of Rights that has been ignored recently. Every citizen should be required to memorize the US Constitution before receiving a high school diploma. Perhaps we should just throw out most existing laws and start over with a basic few…since many have become corrupt beyond comprehension.
    I’m no expert on law, but I think massive changes need to be made.

    Obama really sounded good, and I think the guy is somewhat sincere, as far as he understands things, but I also think he is being totally misguided by those who want a continuation of the status quo of debt, outsourcing jobs, and free trade that is destroying America. So, overall his speech was a lot of smoke and feely good stuff, but the substance was not quite there.

  17. if

    U.S. Gov’t Prepares for Collapse and Disruption

  18. Giraffe

    Money, money, money, it’s all they have. I just returned to the US after 21 years living overseas – Britain, mostly, then Morocco. I was happy to the leave the USA, where everything (and I mean everything) was about money. In other parts of the world, money is, well, just money! Necessary, of course. But not the only thing one valued in this world. In fact, way down the list, usually. Since I’ve returned to America, my overwhelming impression is that the place is being reamed out by everyone, either consciously or unconsciously. So sad. And now I must go to school (massage therapy in my case). Cheers.
    ELAINE: HI! Yes, now you are in America! And the same economic forces that were causing problems in northern Africa are blowing here, too! Social connections are the real gold in life. So are families that get along with each other.

  19. igneous

    I was thinking today about the way in which people are running away from problems emotionally by refusing to think about anything that in some way might make them depressed or unhappy.

    It kind of ties in with parts of Davids last post where he talks about critical thinking and developing aesthetics and culture. It also ties in with Elaines observation of Obamas magical piggy bank.

    Nobody wants think criticaly or develop a cultural awareness because at a fundamental level it means having to face reality.

    Think critically and you will have to face the reality of suffering, understand that little asian people are exploited in sweat shops and that westerners are losing their economic might through the loss of industry.

    Be aesthetically and culturally aware and you might have to read a book like “100 years of solitude” and actually deal with ideas about politics and war and love etc. You might experience the emotion of sadness as well as enjoying that precious gift, the insight of a great writer.

    This refusal to deal with things because they have an emotional component manifests itself in other areas. Nobody wants to share their feelings or have relationships or watch the news or have real discussions any more. “Its so depressing” they say. I guess thats why they borrowed $500,000 for a shit box in the desert. They just didn’t want to think about the loan side of it. God how boring!!

    What I find funny is that not thinking about issues that could make you unhappy or depressed is seen as being strong. On the other hand a person who cares about what is happening in the world and actively seeks out information about it and engages in discussion or debate is a fool or a hippy. But really not facing up to reality because it might make you uncomfortable is the highest form of cowardice.

  20. JSmith

    “Many capitals of states are set in the middle of these wastelands, for example, one of the wealthiest states, New Jersey, has Trenton as its capital and this is also the poorest city in New Jersey.”
    The northeast, being very historical, has state capitols in places like Trenton (or Albany) that were once significant, now much less so. But it’s very difficult to move a state capitol.
    “This picture of the present Amtrak station in Detroit looks like a wasteland.”
    As with the capitols, the stations were there before the wasteland, which came later due primarily to the efforts of the people who lived there. After the unrest of the late 1960s very few people really wanted to live in Detroit, Newark, Trenton, or Gary – those who could leave, did. In droves. A bad reputation is very difficult to overcome. I would have thought that someone who historicizes as much as you do would have pointed that out..
    If you want to promote rail service, build some new stations where people now live and work instead of “restoring” the old stations sited where people used to live and work.

  21. Rowan

    Elaine, these Imperial ruins remind me of Persepolis. Raped, pillaged and abandoned. The battles of conquest which destroyed them took place in the board rooms and political institutions and were won by the oil industry. What will we do when the oil runs out? Where will we get all our plastic from?

  22. JSmith

    “Anybody, fond of hysterical masses cheering the leader, can look at “Triumph of the Will”(Triumph des Willens).”
    Film of large cheering Nazi crowds means that large masses of people cheering anything at all can always be compared to Nazis.

  23. Matheus

    Obama is a puppet, i was following the american elections and i can’t realise until now why ron paul didn’t win it.Seems that North Americans are as stupid as South Americans.

  24. JSmith

    “i can’t realise until now why ron paul didn’t win it.”
    Really? You can’t? Would you really want to hear that cantankerous old duffer bitching at you for four long years?

  25. JSmith

    Apropos of previuos comments… there a rule of internet debate (known as Godwin’s Law) which holds that in any debate on the internet, sooner or later someone will call someone else a Nazi.
    And it’s generally agreed that whoever plays the “Nazi card” first loses the argument.

  26. Gary

    I kinda listened to the Messiah’s speech in the background. I kept hearing
    over and over again the word, “credit”. I cant recall hearing the word
    “income” or “manufacturing”. Did anyone hear those naughty words mentioned?
    Also, Microid-soft thru their messiah Bill Gates is going to set up a fund
    to help train 3 million people to be computer literate. What a shabby,tawdry fraudulent publicity stunt. All at the same time they write
    their job descriptions so that only people with foreign H1-B work visas
    can apply for.

  27. ralph

    Get ready for the Commercial real estate COLLAPSE! If you think the above photos are bad, just wait until the end of 2009. The entire strip mall complex of Amerika is going down. Wasteland here we come.

  28. Gary

    Some gut busting humor……..from The Onion.com

    Should we close the nation’s Money Pit ?
    “My Father Worked 2 Jobs to be able to dump his money in that hole !”


  29. WNC Observer


    The Indianapolis Union Station is very nice, and still in use for Amtrak – although just barely. Like all but a small handful of cities, they only get a couple of trains per day. Nevertheless, it is a very enjoyable place to wait for a train.


  30. larry, dfh

    Dear Professor Meinel, I think you may be a little mis-directed about a few of the NJ cities. I think Camden may be the most fucked-up, it was formally in receivership. And Newark is pretty cool. The Ironbound district is entirely Brasilian and Portugese, with good food and ‘sympatico’ ambiance. The train station has a couple of hundred bike racks, mostly full; that is, people bike to the station and take the Path Train to NYC. In off-peak hours, Amtrak is very cool about letting bikes on the coaches, so you can have wheels in NYC if you want.
    You are right about the plight of local train stations. Many of them were beautifully constructed, and now sit in disrepair. Some have been sold for re-development. The train station at Newburgh, New York comes to mind. I remember as a kid, my grandparents could get on a subway in the Bronx and get off a train on the B&O line across the street from the old hotel:
    http://www.deerparktavern.com/ 2 blocks from our house. The rails were put out of business by the trucking and energy businesses, through the aegis of the ever-for-sale congress.
    And you already have a name for your curriculum: Culture of Life.
    ELAINE: I am aware that Newark has turned around due to tremendous effort. Well worth it. But the real turn around is in your reply: the minute the PATH trains got to Manhattan [this took YEARS of political efforts! Trust me on this! I was involved in the battles to get the trains to go to Manhattan!] Newark improved. Lesson here is simple: improvements in train systems=economic blessings!

  31. DrKrbyLuv

    Obama is more of the same – forget change. There was no mention of reform or anything of substance. He is increasing spending even though the nation is in a deflationary period – and he seems to forget the problem is we’re broke!
    He is ramping up a way in Afghanistan that is dangerous at best. While the CIA may be able to profitably harvest the poppy crop, the rest of the campaign is inhumane and fruitless.

  32. JSmith

    “The center no longer holds as nooses made of multilane highways strangle these cities.”
    My commute looks like this: back out of driveway, drive four blocks and two stoplights, and get on the freeway. Run it up to 70, hit the cruise control, and stay there for 13 minutes. Exit freeway, drive five more blocks, enter parking lot, shut down, enter building. End-to-end time: 21 minutes on average.
    “Urban planners” seem to think I should drive to a train station, park, get on a train, get off at another station, get in a taxi or other secondary transportation, pay driver, get out, and enter building. And I’m supposed to believe that a commute averaging an hour to 90 minutes would be “better” (in some arcane sense of the word “better”) than what I’m doing now. For some reason.

  33. Paul S

    I think it is way too early to say Obama is more of the same. I think , for one thing it is too early in the Obama administration to conclude anything and for another Obama has to battle some pretty powerful, entrenched special interests. Who knows what kind of deals go down behind closed doors? Obama’s Labor Secretary looks to be a good choice. Both her parents were union members. As opposed to Bush’s choices at Labor: high ranking execs from Monsanto and lawyers from law firms who specialize in union busting. Give President Obama a fair shot:1-2 years before we judge his performance averall. Everybody should know the gigantic mess Bush left.
    ELAINE: You are correct. There will be GREAT tension within this administration between labor and the money guys who also wield great influence and who spent lots of money on Obama’s election.

  34. Angela

    Smith, the stereotype of the miserable inner-city doesn’t hold in many sections of Philadelphia. Young people in their 20’s and 30’s have moved (in droves) to once nearly abandoned neighborhoods, bringing some of the energy that David outlines in his above list of needs.

    These neighborhoods now have Arts festivals, community organizing, murals and an attempt at sustainability with community gardens and lot clearing, but the real beauty is the lack of serious incident and the type of crime that one would expect with drug dealers two doors down.

    And lets not forget how the cities deteriorated in the first place. Move the jobs overseas and bring in the drugs, send all the kids to state-run schools. Uneducated parents are encouraged by “profesionals” to collect an additional SSI “paycheck” to have their kids diagnosed with serious disabilities and then pumped full of anti-psychotics and/or amphetimines in GRAMMAR school, pretty much insuring a few more generations of damaged people.

    We can point fingers all we want at the residents of the inner-city and hold them accountable for some of the mess, but point the finger too at the profiteers of the suffering. Government policies, the “Drug WAR”?” and abysmal schools have not helped a bit to restore cities like Trenton.

  35. Gary

    JS… We dont want to wreck your commute. We just want you to live
    near the tracks. We want your job near the tracks,too. In the future
    housing near the tracks will be some of the only housing to appreciate
    in value
    Take me back to the track Jack
    Choo chooo Choo Choo she boogie
    Woo woo woo woo she boggie
    take me back to the track, Jack

  36. emsnews

    I was an inner city renovator most of my adult life. I loved the cities and loved living there and fought ‘urban renewal’ which was more about destruction and big towers. I hate big towers.
    When I moved to all of my previous neighborhoods, they were crime-ridden and dirty. Cleaning up the mess and getting everyone to cooperate was on aspect. Improving transportation systems was a huge second issue. I am a huge lover of public transportation! And making them clean, safe and fun to use is important.

  37. emsnews

    And I love trains and use trains a lot. Prefer them over cars and planes.

  38. Gary

    In Tacoma, we must have the most beautiful train sta. on the W. Coast.
    It was “saved” by turning it into a Lawyer Palace (turned into a Federal
    Courthouse) Some great Chihuly glass sculptures were hung and placed all
    around the inside. But to get in, you have to go when court is in session–
    only on the weekdays, and you have to pass thru Comrade Security and
    a metal detector. The Amtrak Sta is over a mile away next to a dingy
    switching yard and has very little parking close in. The inside of the
    sta. looks like a motor vehicle registry office with terrible lighting and
    dirty floors.

  39. This is scary! It’s in GlobalResearch.ca, which is quite legit. And the story sounds rock-solid:

    Mystery Prison Buses in the Desert
    Feb 25, 2009
    On a recent visit to Tucson, Arizona, where I was invited to give a presentation on monetary reform, I was disturbed by a story of strange goings on in the desert. A little over a year ago, it seems, a new industrial facility sprang up on the edge of town. It was in a remote industrial zone and appeared to be a bus depot. The new enterprise was surrounded by an imposing security fence and bore no outward signs identifying its services. However, it soon became apparent that the compound was in the business of outfitting a fleet of prison buses. Thirty or so secondhand city buses were being reconfigured with prison bars in the windows and a coat of fresh paint bearing the “Wackenhut G4S” logo on the side.
    The new Wackenhut operation is shrouded in mystery. It has been running its fleet of empty prison buses night and day, apparently logging miles on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contract. Multiple buses can be seen driving all over town and even on remote desert back roads. Oddly, except for the driver and one escort guard seated in front, these buses are always empty.

    Some here may recall that I talk a lot about people tending to congregate near water. Then I realized that the Boston housing market is apparently holding up relatively well, so far. Their infamous “Big Dig project to put the city’s tangled roads under the city cost (These are the numbers I saw in the papers, not the Wikipedia figure of $22 billion) about $30 billion, far more than the about $3 billion that was expected. $9 billion was spent just for a tunnel to the man-made island that is Logan International Airport (these airports will be deader than Detroit once peak oil hits)! Most people don’t know how much of the (not very big, population about 610,000) of Boston was land created by muck just dredged up from the sea. I don’t either but I would guess about half. You must go about 20 (guessing) miles from the Atlantic before you get very far above sea level. And most earth scientists seem to think the oceans are about to rise precipitously. What then. Meanwhile, in the forgotten western Mass burgs, we read about how the governor struggles to find money. No Big Dig for us (we are getting a new bike path, built over an old defunct rail track).
    It occurs to me, though, that the only cities that are not decaying are on the coastlines. The heartlands have been left to die. But also, these coastal cities often have skyscrapers. They presumably cannot operate at all without air conditioning. And the oceans are probably going to rise 50 feet.
    I am furious about the fact that many, many college professors knew perfectly well that peak oil was coming, but simply neglected to tell the rest of us about it! I asked one this on a blog once, and he said this was just not part of the job. And got quite indignant about it to boot. Who pays for most of their research? And most everything else they do? We need to nationalize all the schools, fire all the “teachers,” and start over.

  40. if

    JSmith&all, I didn´t want to draw parallels between the american public and cheering masses in Germany in 1934. The film is just an excellent illustration of human nature. We humans (incl. myself) often prefer to let someone else take resposibility for our lifes, our actions. If a strong political, religious leader tells he/she knows what to do, just follow me, many, otherwise clearheaded individuals will follow. Realizing all to late, it was wrong to switch off the brain. I certainly do not know how to stop this kind of behaviour, maybe as David wrote “Education in an appreciation of our humanness and concepts of love, caring and worthiness, and ethics” plus critical thinking, I would say.
    But who wants to educate the masses in this way? It would be dangerous to any elite anywhere.

  41. bubba

    I think the coming collapse of the multinational corporations and huge conglomerates is a good thing.

    Once we are rid of these predatory organizations, the potential of small business that provide value for a lot less waste can grow.

    In Obama’s speech, when he claimed he was going to get rid of tax breaks to companies that outsource, the camera pans back to a politician that had a pretty hilarious, “Yea? Right.” look on his face.

    The Indian outsourcers are supposedly worried they will be cut off by our hard ass, working for the people, new Presidunce.

  42. pyramidseeker

    His speech was definetly a “buzz word” speech, in his previous 2 speechs I felt like he was trying to get somewhere, and last night I think he lost all of the momentum that he had.

  43. David

    How President Obama Might Make Significant Changes If He Is Sincere:
    President Obama is intentionally establishing himself in a favorable light with Joe the plumber voters….He talks real good, and he looks kinda “purdy” too…and he talks about giving “folks” tax cuts, and making jobs for ordinary people and rebuilding America…all of the good stuff that Joe and Jane sixpack want to hear.
    Does he think he can pull all of these things off? I don’t know.
    Now, at this point, I cannot be sure about whether he is just blowing smoke to keep everyone happy while he tries to reestablish the status quo of running the US off of debt or not. I cannot yet be sure what he has in mind.

    To fix America, I suggest that Obama needs desperatly to accomplish two major things:
    1. He needs to gently and firmly do what many corporations and my own public school system did to older employees. He needs to force large numbers of corrupt crony Congressmen and Senators to leave Washington and retire and go home for good. Since Robert Gates is Obama’s man now (Obama went to Gates and hired him personally to head the CIA without consulting anyone), at some point, specific knowledge of wrongdoing among certain members of Congress and the Senate might be brought to bear and force some very orderly and timely retirements. Let’s hope Obama is cultivating popular support for future mandates to clean out the cesspool that is Congress and the Senate.
    Most of those slimy old buzzards have all of the wealth they will ever need anyway…so they need to be on their way back home so a fresh and relatively uncorrupted new group can be brought in government, and Obama had better hit new legislators hard with stiff rules and regulations from day one,and make them tow the line and go back to working for the US citizenry.

    Obama needs to prosecute and imprison one occasionally, just to serve up an example for the rest of them. Congress and the Senate need the “fear of god” put in them by someone, and investigations and prosecutions for wrongdoing are about the only way this might be accomplished. And if Obama has the courage, he will need the citizenry behind him and also the CIA and other government investigative agencies.
    2. Obama desperatly needs to bring the super bloated, cumbersome military industrial complex under control. Military guys are professional soldiers. Their job is to kill people, not a job description that is common in ordinary civilian life, so they desperately fight for more funding and more wars to justify their military jobs.
    And many of them are not the sharpest tools in the shed when it comes to readjusting to other occupations and learning new skills and ordinary civilian trades. So, traditionally, upon military retirement, the officers go to work for defense industries helping build new weapons for future wars. Even us anti-war types need to feel some sympathy for these old troops.
    Now, what Obama needs is a very comprehensive military to civilian education process where the disbanded soldier goes through two or more years of government sponsored readjustment training in preparation for a return to civilian life,which includes job training and reeducation. This also includes officers who are used to the revolving door system of military to military contractors. If Obama did this, and offered genuine help for disbanded soldiers, he might find them more willing to scale down the military and also the military industrial complex.
    Obama might actually retrain these people, who are moving into the old military manufacturing network, how to reindustrialize the US for the future, and gradually shift from the gross overproduction of weapons to renewed production of standard, sustainable goods and services for civilian use.
    I suspect that fear of being dumped on the streets with no support network is what these retiring soldiers fear the most. Their entire lives are spent taking orders and being team players, so this fear of abandonment causes them to fight tooth and nail to preserve and keep expanding the vast bloated MI complex.

    Now, all of the above is my own pure speculation…
    However, I do think Obama has a lot of potential so I won’t give up on him quite yet. I’ll wait around for a year or two to see if he has the courage to stand up and begin working for us all.

  44. nah

    saw geitner on tv… aparently he thinks debt for insolvent banks so they can make a 2% margin on garbage loans for the forseable future ‘when inflation/deflation is completely unpredicatable’ is the solution to the economic breakdown…. something i wonder is why anyone would think that inflation is different from deflation… its a breakdown of trade??? you can have a house worth $20k but if noone will buy it… you can have a house worth $20mil but if noone will buy it… when banks play the people for fools ‘and systems of INTERNAL TRADE are breaking down’ terrible things happen regardless of good intentions… this is a quite serious problem they never should have taken geitner to be treasury secratary he is impotent and unconcerned but with obamas 15 steps to personal liberty… after hearing him speak i would seriously wonder why anyone would take his ‘cheap debt for hedge funds or whoever’ to compete with each other to buy out the government positions which are total crap so that they can have just a position in a insolvent bank loan portfolio… amazing
    a sucker is born every minuate

  45. JSmith

    “Smith, the stereotype of the miserable inner-city doesn’t hold in many sections of Philadelphia. Young people in their 20’s and 30’s have moved (in droves) to once nearly abandoned neighborhoods, bringing some of the energy that David outlines in his above list of needs.”
    Gentrification is an interesting process that I’ve been able to observe for about 20 years now.
    Begin with a blighted rundown neighborhood. Artists and renovators (or “urban pioneers”, as they were once known) move in because the area is, above all else, cheap. A few years down the road there are galleries, ahops, arts festivals, etc. People with more money move in because the area is now “hip”. The artists and urban renovators move on to another blighted area because rents have kept pace with the improvements, and artists (being perpetually broke) can’t afford to live there anny more.
    Unfortunately… we have more blighted areas than we have artists and urban renovators.
    “We just want you to live near the tracks.”
    No, thanks. You go right ahead. Here’s a link that’s all about living near the tracks. (Helpful hint: turn the sound all the way up right at he beginning.)

  46. JSmith

    “Mystery Prison Buses in the Desert
    On a recent visit to Tucson, Arizona, where I was invited to give a presentation on monetary reform, I was disturbed by a story of strange goings on in the desert. A little over a year ago, it seems, a new industrial facility sprang up on the edge of town. …”
    Unfortunately, the author doesn’t tell us which edge. Thanks to Google Earth, no aboveground facility is secret any more, but I lack the time to thoroughly explore Tucson from the air.

  47. Rowan

    Good on you Gary…Thanks for reminding me of this one. Louis Jourdan was just great! I`m going to play this one tonight!
    Gonna settle down by the railroad track,
    lead a life of Reilly in a beaten-down shack,
    Hang around the gymbal-crack with fellas named Mack,
    Take me right back to the track, Jack.
    By the way, anyone know what a Gymbal-crack is?

  48. Gary

    Dr Smith……..

    You are just arguing things from a wobbling bobbing podium that’s now out to sea with a major low in the forecast. You are arguing from a “things
    as they are now” perspective. That perspective is eroding like Cape
    Hatteras beach sand (or Cape Fear) in a Cat4 storm.
    Nobody is going to “make” you want live near the tracks. As I can see,
    your mind is set up like epoxy enhanced concrete. But at some point in time,
    when the cheap oil and the Mariachi band quits, you will have to move.
    Denial comes in 3 stages. Stage one, “thats outrageous !”. Stage 2, “while
    your argument has some merit its still flawed”. Stage 3, “I knew that all
    along,what are you yelling about”.

  49. JSmith, it seems to me you have a quick, easy commute of about (my estimation) 17 miles. In most large suburban cities — like Los Angeles — that trip would take most of or more than an HOUR. This is because the city is too large to permit quick travel of the motoring public during peak travel times, yet everybody still has to drive, or if there is rail, the commute would be 90 minutes! This is due to the poor planning of new rail systems to replace the old streetcar lines that were dug up and the atrocious “planning” (actually single use zoning and developers’ plans created to get construction loans from banking gnomes…) of the suburban precincts everywhere in this country. If we had rail-centered new urban planning instead since the 30s our country would be radically different. And free from foreign trade debt due to far less oil consumed.

  50. Why since the 30s? That was when FDR promulgated the FHA lending rules for government-sponsored mortgages, which included rules for laying out subdivisions that were totally antiurban (no back alleys, curvilineal streets, no mixed uses except schools and small neighborhood stores, etc., although excluding heavy industry was a big plus here).

  51. emsnews

    Can’t blame him, Ed, back then, it was cheaper to encourage cars which consumed oil which we produced and this way, no staff had to be hired to ferry people around. Today, we import more than half of the oil we consume. So we must change or else.

  52. David

    Trains would be very good for America in so many ways. They are very efficient.
    My grandfather was a railroad man. He had his own train back in the roaring twenties when railroads were the main means of transportation. Grandfather lived on his train in a private car, and supervised 30 workmen who put in railroad sidings to growing industries and towns along his stretch of line. He earned great money for the time because the railroad tycoons were very generous in paying their managers and supervisors, and even fairly generous in paying workmen.
    Just playing with some numbers here:
    According to data collected by the Federal Surface Transportation Board, a diesel locomotive can move a ton of freight 436 miles using a single gallon of diesel fuel.
    In comparison, our present day automobiles average about 1.5 tons each and they get 17 to 30 miles per gallon. So if our automobiles were as efficient as diesel locomotives, we would be getting 290 miles per gallon and the average car that travels approximately 12,000 miles per year would only use 41 gallons of fuel or $123.00 worth of fuel per year at 3 dollars per gallon.
    Needless to say, our automobiles cannot be made that efficient because of all of the wasted energy used to get the things moving again and again at stoplights and intersections. (there is talk of the US going to European type traffic circles to avoid intersections and huge amounts of wasted fuel.)
    At 24 miles per gallon average, cars use 500 gallons of fuel at 3 dollars per gallon costs us $1500.00 per year plus car payments and insurance…so the damned cars are breaking us financially when you consider that there are presently 203,300,000 cars on US roads…times $1500.00 equals…
    $304,950,000,000.00 spent on fuel alone by US drivers each year.
    If we could park half of these damned things, we could easily stop importing oil as Elaine pointed out.
    Diesel locomotives use a large diesel engine to power a huge generator that furnishes electricity to electromagnetic motors that are attached to the engine’s wheels. This is old technology, and there are no mechanical transmission gears and friction parts except motor and wheel bearings to wear out. A very reliable system,but a little slow by today’s standards.
    Maglev or bullet trains actually use opposing electromagnetism to lift the entire train off the wheels so it is floating on a magnetic field and is friction free…very few parts to wear out. Wheels are only used when starting and stopping. This is why they travel so fast…nearly 300 miles per hour. Just think, 3000 miles across the US divided by 300 equals 10 hours…of course, with stops and other slowdowns you can probably double that time, but that’s still pretty efficient…
    And Germany, France, and Japan have been building bullet train lines for 25 years now…while we’ve been limiting our travels by hanging onto our thuggish, SUV, V-8 gas guzzlers so we can make the oil boyz richer each year.
    There are other ways that trains would be good for America:
    Most US secondary roads are asphalt. Oil tar is simply mixed with gravel to create asphalt. And in climates where there are harsh winters, freezing cracks this asphalt and potholes develop, and these require millions of dollars worth of continued maintenance each year.
    The timber industry will boom if we increase railroad building. Scrub timbers cut from gum, hickory, scrub oak and sycamore,are cooked in creosote to prevent rotting and are used for rail line crossties which support the rails. These cross ties last for fifty or more years So too, gravel quarries in local areas would prosper because gravel goes under crossties.
    The steel industry might also prosper some if we return to building railroads since rails and fencing are made of steel, as are trains.
    At Disneyworld, I rode the monorail….and was fascinated. It was wonderful…The single rail is mounted on tall pilings that simply goes over forests and neighborhoods and everything below without disturbing the landscape. That is simply great…much, much better than a multi-billion dollar, two hundred yard wide ribbons of concrete that destroys farmland and habitat for wildlife and make life hazardous for us all. I can envision monorails crossing througout suburbia connecting to train lines in the future.
    I think rail travel would allow many of us to travel to more distant places than we presently do because travel would be much cheaper. I know, the cost of fuel limits my own travels, and it’s such a hassle too. In Germany, for example, you can purchase a month long train pass that will allow you to go anywhere in the country for an entire month..without distance limits. That would be great here.
    Finally, I just plain like trains…even the newer ones. There is something great about them. I love train songs. I can even play Arlo Guthrie’s “City of New Orleans” too. I think railroading is in my blood.

  53. emsnews

    The rail passes was my passport to fun across all of Europe long, long ago. I loved riding the trains and ended up in the heart of great cities that way!

  54. JSmith

    “JSmith, it seems to me you have a quick, easy commute of about (my estimation) 17 miles. In most large suburban cities — like Los Angeles — that trip would take most of or more than an HOUR.”
    That’s about right. But my overwhelmingly enormous commuting advantage is that I live in a neighborhood that’s in the city proper, while the office park where I work is out in the ‘burbs. So… I’m at 70-per, heading out of town, while thousands of my fellow ‘droids are bumper-to-bumper at 10-15 mph, heading in. In the evening: same deal, different direction.
    If I were one of those other people light rail might have some appeal, but it’s a solution to a problem I fortunately don’t have.
    (I used to do most of my work at home and didn’t commute much at all. Unfortunately, one of my colleagues caught a heart attack shoveling snow shortly after New Year, and I caught much of his work while he’s out – for the forseeable future. And since he had – has – direct reports… I have to be there so they still have someone to report to.)

  55. JSmith

    And for the other side of the story… google “commuter train derailment”. Something like that could throw your whole day off schedule.

  56. Pingback: Train To Hell: From Baltimore To NYC | Culture of Life News

  57. This surely makes perfect sense.

  58. Youre totally right with this blog post!!!

  59. Youre completely correct with this writing!!

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