Six ways of looking at infrastructure: “It’s their world. We just serve them in it.”

Thanks to digby, we find this by Alec MacGillis in the New Republic — six snapshots from a week in America, and why we can’t have nice things, like infrastructure and train travel.

MacGillis notes this (I’m going to quote less than digby did; feel free to click to read it all):

1. On Sunday, billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson concludes the weekend summit at the Venetian in Las Vegas where four Republican presidential prospects for 2016 came to make their implicit pitch for financial support from the man who spent nearly $150 million during the 2012 campaign.

2. On Monday, a Senate subcommittee releases a report on the tax avoidance used by Caterpillar, the giant Peoria, Ill.-based heavy equipment manufacturer, which cut its tax bill by $2.4 billion over the past 13 years by allotting $8 billion in revenues from its parts division to a subsidiary in Switzerland, where only 65 of the division’s 8,500 employees work. …

3. On Tuesday, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan releases the latest version of the famous Ryan budget. To make up for tax reductions for the wealthy, the budget calls for very deep cuts in spending on Medicaid, food stamps and discretionary spending, which includes research and development, transportation and infrastructure. Amtrak would lose its $1 billion in already-meager annual subsidies and have to rely entirely on fare-box revenue.

4. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court releases a 5-4 ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, eliminating caps on how much total money ultra-rich donors can give to candidates, parties and PACs in a given election cycle. … Celebrating the ruling, House Speaker John Boehner says, “I’m all for freedom, congratulations.”

5. On Thursday morning, the Wall Street Journal runs an op-ed by one of the best-known mega-donors, Charles Koch, who with his brother backs Americans for Prosperity, which spent $122 million leading up to the 2012 campaign and has already spent more than $30 million in the past six months attacking Obamacare and Democratic senators up for reelection this fall. In the op-ed, Koch explains his heavy spending by warning of the “collectivists” threatening to take over the country. …

One of the nice things we can't have

A nice thing we can’t have

6. Later on Thursday morning, between 9 and 10 a.m., part of the overhead electric line that powers the Acela train comes down onto the tracks near Bowie, Maryland, between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Virtually all train traffic between Baltimore and Washington shuts down for hours as undermanned crews struggle to repair the line, thereby severely hampering traffic in the Washington to Boston Northeast corridor that carries 750,000 passengers on 2,000 trains per day[.]  …

[A] stalled Acela takes four hours and 20 minutes to make the 40 mile journey, one that normally takes an hour. German tourists on the train sit bewildered …

Six ways of looking at a train delay, like thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird:


I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

Or like six ways of looking at a train wreck of a country.

As MacGillis suggests, spending on Amtrak infrastructure (6) might give business to Caterpillar (2) but would be blocked by the casino billionaire (1) as “collectivist” (5) — he’d rather spend his money buying more Roberts Court–elections (4) so he can pocket a few more Paul Ryans (3). Then die a winner, leaving a wreck behind.

I’ll give digby the last word:

“It’s their world. We just serve them in it.”

Until we stop.


Twitter: @Gaius_Publius. Facebook: Gaius Publi.

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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