Wednesday, September 24, 2008

National Projects

Amid all this talk of a $700,000,000,000 bailout, I watched an episode of The West Wing last night where Bartlet wanted to cure cancer. He is sitting in a boring dinner with a bunch of doctors when one of them mentions something to the effect that if they had 10 billion and 10 years they could do it.

And that got me thinking: Where are those great national projects now? With $700 billion going to bail out some investment banks, and $1 billion being spent every day on the war in Iraq (I grabbed that number today from the NYT's Thomas Friedman)--think of what we could do with that money! Meanwhile, our bridges fall down, our cities get smited, health care sucks, social security is in trouble. Anyone who's recently been to JFK or LaGuardia or LAX and then flown to, say, Hong Kong's new airport, or even Pearson's beautiful new terminal 1 will know how little we're paying attention to infrastructure here.

With $700 billion, could we cure AIDS?

With $700 billion, could we find a real cure or treatment for cancer?

With $700 billion, could we not create the finest school system in the world, instead of falling further and further behind?

Isn't the point of taxes that they get spent on things to make the country as a whole better? Aren't they the price of living in a modern state?

But no, if we weren't bailing out Wall St. and fighting the war in Iraq, all we'd hear would be tax cuts tax cuts.

And our bridges would continue to fall.

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