Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Invitation to the Tea Party Congress

I’ve just spent a week in that earlier America you love so much and, while the absence of politicians was a blessing, I would not recommend living in cold semi-darkness, feebly powered by an emergency generator that eats $100 a day of propane and engine oil (if you can get a delivery) without providing Internet, cable or phone service and, in many cases, enough juice to run an electric range.

Even this weekend, well over 100,000 homes of my neighbors in the Northeast are still that way, evoking questions about the role of private utilities with monopoly power and what government does and doesn’t do to regulate them and even larger questions about investing in the crumbling infrastructure of 21st century America to ease unemployment.

As the emergency dribbles away, there is huffing and puffing from elected officials, but when the power goes out again in this winter’s heavy snows, nothing will have changed.

Throughout this enforced visit to the past, questions swirl about investing in America’s infrastructure as a way of jump-starting the economy.

While we pour so much money into the Middle East, why must millions back home depend for their health, let alone comfort, on poles and wires decades old with connections that break at the fall of a tree limb? Isn’t better technology available and why don’t we, as a government in partnership with those who will profit from it, invest in that over the coming years and create jobs?

Meanwhile, as the Tea Party Congress blocks Obama’s jobs bill, here is a blanket invitation for the next power outage to visit an octogenarian who depends on auxiliary power for oxygen and enjoy the 19th century ambience.

We could sit by the fire and have a spirited discussion of the important news of the day—-whether or not Herman Cain hit on women who worked for him decades ago.

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