In 1925, during another era of pronounced income inequality and less than five years before the Great Depression, President Calvin Coolidge addressed this existential question: What is America about? When taken out of context of its accompanying remarks, the bastardized version of his famous quote—“The business of America is business”— does not do our 30th president, or us, justice.
Response to Jim Cameron: Jim, as a person who really does know the truth, it would benefit us all for you to tell the whole truth, so we can really learn from the past and fix the problem. Past administrations on both sides of the aisle have raided the Special Transportation Fund to the tune of $1.5 billion and counting as raids continue today. If you really want our roads and bridges fixed, first we must stop the raiding.
My mother died last October at 93. She taught English and social studies (history and civics) at E.C. Goodwin Tech in New Britain, retiring in 1989. Recently my sister and I were packing her books for donation. I found a monograph among them. The year was 1978 and this was a mailing sponsored by the Standard Oil Company. It was the start of a propaganda and indoctrination campaign in support of Milton Friedman’s supply-side/trickle-down, neo-liberal economic policies implemented by President Ronald Reagan and utilized by both parties since. Here is a quote from the monograph that is the philosophical foundation of trickle-down:
Once again Connecticut legislators are scouring every crevice for new sources to cover our over-budgeted projects. Monday multiple House Democrats yet again purpose the installation of tolls. State rep. Tony Guerrera , House chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, states “I promise you if we do this, this state will thrive.”
Recent reports of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s desire to erect electronic tolling on select state roads is a slap in the face to those who pay taxes in Connecticut and purchase gasoline or diesel fuel for use in their vehicles and equipment. For decades, funds that were legislated to be collected for transportation development and maintenance have been diverted to the General Fund to be used for non-transportation purposes.
Fare hikes, rail service cuts and a freeze on transportation projects. As he promised in December, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced them all last month. Rail commuters and highway drivers are justifiably outraged, but they should direct their anger not at the Governor or Connecticut Department of Transportation but at the legislature.
In news that shouldn’t surprise anybody, Hartford politicians and bureaucrats have spent this past month declaring the state “desperately” needs more money. By now, Connecticut residents attuned to this rhetoric realize that “new revenue sources” just means “more taxes.” The proposed remedy in this case: tolls. DOT Commissioner James Redeker recently toured the state proclaiming that the Special Transportation Fund (STF), money that is funded by one of the highest gas taxes in the country and purportedly reserved solely for transportation, is out of money and only tolls can save it.
A “minimally adequate system of free public schools” is the new court standard for State education funding. Town and School leaders are stunned by the recent CCJEF v. Rell ruling. Unless reconsidered, the responsibility of moving our state education system forward rests with state elected leadership. We hope they accept this challenge and adopt a higher standard. Our state’s future depends on making this the top priority and working together to provide more than a minimally adequate education system.
Connecticut is poised for a serious debate over the size and role of its future government as it prepares for a new legislative session in February and a new business-led economic commission due to issue its report on March 1. How should the state view the options during this historic debate? Connecticut has assets most states can only dream about: an enviable location; a highly skilled workforce; world-renowned educational, medical and cultural institutions; a diversified economy; and an attractive quality of life. Yet, we are inundated with a bleak one-dimensional narrative of failure, job loss and stagnation.
Indifference manifests itself in ignorance, silence and acceptance. Turning our backs to the injustices suffered by the marginalized, vulnerable, and victimized in our local communities and around the world is a weak and heartless admission that the status quo is just fine with us when it doesn’t affect our lives directly — at least not yet. And that’s a very big “yet” because unchecked turmoil can arrive anytime at our doorsteps regardless of who we think we are.