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Tom Degan: As the decade of the teens unfolds, the price we will be forced to pay as a result of decades of neglect of America's infrastructure will be astronomical. This disaster could have been avoided by means of a simple ounce of prevention.

Roll the opening credits:

andy rooney judy garland


"Andy Hardy Gets A Clue"

Mickey Rooney as Andy Hardy
Lewis Stone as Judge Hardy

A fun time for the entire family!

The Camera fades from black onto a house in a pleasant neighborhood in the mythical Midwestern town of Carvel. The home is the residence of kindly Judge Hardy and his family. The scene dissolves into the interior of the Judge's study. He is sitting in his leather-bound chair in front of the fireplace, concentrating on a small stack of legal briefs which are placed on his lap. There is a quiet knock on the door. "Come in", he says. From camera left enters the Judge's fifteen-year-old son, Andy Hardy:

Andy Hardy: Dad? I was wondering if we could have a little talk, you know, man-to-man.

Judge Hardy: What is it, Andrew?

Andy Hardy: I've been thinking a lot lately about deregulation.

Judge Hardy: In what way, son?

Andy Hardy: Well, Dad, I'm starting to think that deregulation might not have been a really neat idea.

Judge Hardy: No shit, Sherlock.

Indeed. But for the absence of something which has been called an "acoustics detector" or an "acoustics regulator" or a "Remote Activated Blowout Detector" (depending on which news report you read) the catastrophe which is now playing itself out in the Gulf of Mexico might very well have been avoided. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, the device was mandatory on all oil rigs. When the Bush/Cheney regime seized power via an electoral coup in 2000 (aided and abetted by the Supreme Court), the acoustics/blowout thingamajig was deemed too expensive.

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The price? Five hundred thousand dollars.

As Ben Franklin's old adage says, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It's such a basic lesson of life. Most of us learn it sooner or later....Most of us. You don't need a better example of the greed and stupidity of these people than the one I am offering you here: They placed the lives and livelihoods of millions of people living on the Gulf coast in total and undeniable jeopardy - all to save a measly half a million bucks. This is the worst case criminal negligence I have ever heard about in my entire life. You would expect someone to go to prison for this, wouldn't you? Yeah, I would, too. Don't hold your breath.

Here's the really funny part: The latest right wing talking point is that this is Obama's Katrina! How's that for a rib-tickler? Don't let them fool you. There are a lot of politicians with their fingerprints on this debacle. Barack Obama is not one of them. This tragedy is owned by failed oilmen George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney. The two of them are culpable - particularly former President Cheney. No, that was not a typo. President Obama's only responsibility is in the cleaning up of their mess - a task in itself. A half a century from now, they'll still be cleaning up the mess of the Bush/Cheney era. Count on it.

Judge Hardy's restraint in dealing with his semi-clueless kid was truly impressive. If I had been in the old guy's shoes, I'd have slapped Andy Hardy upside his head. Of course deregulation wasn't a "really neat" idea. In fact, three decades of historical hindsight proves conclusively that it was one of the worst domestic policies in the history of this country. In effect we have allowed the foxes to maintain the chicken house. Why should we be the least bit surprised to come home from our drunken, thirty-year binge to find a coop full of dead chickens?

There used to be a woman who attended my local church whose name was Mrs. Murray. She was the sweetest, kindest old lady you'd ever want to meet. My dad , who knew her from boyhood, once remarked that she was as close to a saint as anyone he ever knew. If all human beings were like Mrs. Murray, rules and regulations - LAW - would not be necessary. They could always be counted on to do the right thing. But it is unreasonable to expect businessmen and women to police themselves - in fact it's beyond imbecilic. They will always cut every corner possible in order to make as much profit as they can. That's human nature! That's why regulation of the financial marketplace and industry is essential! Look what happened after thirty years of Wall Street deregulation. They drove our economy into the ditch. Now look what is happening in the Gulf? Two plus two equals....This ain't rocket science, folks.

Here's the problem: For the last thirty years we Americans have had the unfortunate tendency of placing our government into the hands of people whose core philosophy is that government is a bad thing. All-in-all, that's not a particularly smart idea. In fact it is a mind-numbingly insane idea. The germ of the disease that is now threatening the life of the Gulf of Mexico can be fairly traced back to the fact that the politicians we stupidly thought would govern failed to do so. How can it be that so many Americans are eager to place these people back in power come Election day next? It's that mass amnesia for which we're justifiably famous, I suppose.

As the decade of the teens unfolds, the price we will be forced to pay as a result of decades of neglect of America's infrastructure will be astronomical. This disaster could have been avoided by means of a simple ounce of prevention. Franklin's adage of which I spoke was written over two centuries ago. Given the adjustments for inflation, it's going to cost a whole lot more than a pound to cure this. Let's stop kidding ourselves. This is going to involve decades of serious taxation. What other options do we have? Oh, right. Tax cuts for the rich. Have another sip.

Tom Degan