Posted by: emjb | March 11, 2005

Tired of cold and ignorance already

Winter just won’t let go of us in New York. It’s March 11, and it snowed this morning. Just a little, just a reminder that hey, New York, you still have to wear your stupid coats and hats and scarves even though it’s nearly spring hahahaha. At least, that’s how I imagine Mother Nature saying it.

When I moved here, I loved snow. I still do, actually. Big fluffy flakes are beautiful, the way they make the city quiet and mysterious is beautiful, the bare trees against the snow are beautiful. In December, or January, or even February. But come March–no. I’m done with snow, I want some sunshine, I want to walk around with breezes on my face that don’t make it feel as though it’s being peeled off. I want to at least wear my smaller coat and no gloves. C’mon winter, give it up. Be over already.

***

For some more of that political blogging you love about me, here’s a great article via The Washington Monthly.

The author, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, talks about the danger of America falling behind in innovation to foreign competition–not just in cars or electronics, but in research science and new technology. But while this fear has been around ever since Japan cut into the Big Three automakers’ business, Wells traces it not to simple corporate apathy or American laziness, but to the whittling away of social programs and government investment. Key quote:

“The land grant college system, signed into law by Abraham Lincoln, provided the nation’s farmers with expert guidance on the latest agricultural techniques to improve their crop yields. No entrepreneur could figure out how to mass produce cars profitably,” writes Harold Evans in his excellent new book They Made America, “until Henry Ford fought an aggressive bid against restrictive patents. The pharmaceutical, financial, and airline industries blossomed thanks to the creation of the FDA, SEC, and FAA, which gave customers some assurance of safety when they popped pills, traded stocks, or boarded flights. The G.I. Bill provided a generation of veterans with the college educations they needed to build the post-war middle class. The creation of the federally-guaranteed 30-year mortgage proved the decisive tool in the growth of the post-war American suburb.”

Now this is something I’ve always thought, especially about the GI Bill. The prosperity of the postwar era was, at least in part, a direct result of the New Deal programs of Roosevelt. And yet Republicans, who speak in hushed tones about the fabulous 50s, are determined to tear away the very things that made them work–the ability of the lower classes to move up, for many of the poorest to leave poverty, for a whole generation to get a college education for the first time. It takes an astonishing ignorance of history to believe that social programs, that bugaboo of the right, had nothing to do with the prosperity of America in the 20th century. They had everything to do with it.

Anyway, the article is about a lot more than that, and worth the read. Enjoy.

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Responses

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