Tag Archives: Bob Herbert

Bob Herbert: An essential voice goes silent

Bob Herbert has been one of the treasures at The New York Times for the past 18 years. My ‘must reads’ among the Times’ stable of op ed writers has been dwindling in recent years; but Herbert kept me coming back. His voice always clarified complex social challenges; he always pulled me back to earth. He says he’s “off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society.” Good for him. But oh, he’ll be missed.

Today’s column, Losing Our Way,  is his last. It is, of course, pure Herbert.

So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers and police officers, and generally letting the bottom fall out of the quality of life here at home. . . . Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st Century. . . .  The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.

. . .  [Today’s income] inequality . . .  is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.

. . . Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power . . .So the employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.

Among the comments was this. Well worth a read.

You know the line: “Move along, nothing to see here”

While America-the-people wallows in mid-term election grizzlies and gossip, America-the-country is dissolving around us. I heard the top dog of Tea Party Express on CSpan this morning say that the movement (as usual) is about stopping any new taxes and reducing the deficit. It’s nonsense: contradictory goals – a waste of his breath and the airtime. But sadly people believe it’s possible.

It’s not. And 30 years of deregulation and insufficient taxation – and a growing belief that in fact raising taxes is to practically trample on the Constitution and side with the terrorists – have brought us to a sorry state of affairs. While we subsidize everything that ends up costing us in the long run – sugar, gasoline, corn syrup, highways etc., our infrastructure and our educational credentials (see next post) are falling apart.

It’s as though we’re trying to devolve.

Bob Herbert today (my new favorite columnist) talks about water systems.

” . . the truth is that the nation’s water systems are in sorry shape — deteriorating even as the population grows and demand increases. Aging and corroded pipes are bursting somewhere every couple of minutes. Dilapidated sewer systems are contaminating waterways and drinking water. Many local systems are so old and inadequate — in some cases, so utterly rotten — that they are overwhelmed by heavy rain. “

“If this were a first-class society we would rebuild our water systems to the point where they would be the envy of the world, and that would bolster the economy in the bargain. But that would take maturity and vision and effort and sacrifice, all of which are in dismayingly short supply right now.”

“Improving water systems — and infrastructure generally, if properly done — would go a long way toward improving the nation’s dismal economic outlook . . . . every dollar invested in water and sewer improvements has the potential to increase the long-term gross domestic product by more than six dollars. Hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created . . .

“The nation’s network of water systems was right at the bottom of the latest infrastructure grades handed out by the American Society of Civil Engineers, receiving a D-minus. Jeffrey Griffiths, a member of the federal government’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council, told The Times: “We’re relying on water systems built by our great-grandparents, and no one wants to pay for the decades we’ve spent ignoring them. There’s a lot of evidence that people are getting sick. But because everything is out of sight, no one really understands how bad things have become.”

But the gays and the terrorists are out to get us. So there’s really no time for this stuff.

This is a massive failure of government at every level, a failure of both parties. Ultimately however, it’s our own failure.

You get what you ask for. (Of course we’ve managed to convince people to pay for their water in bottles, so maybe it’s okay!)

Bob Herbert is the goods

Long time NY Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert (he’s been there forever, but resists the trappings of stardom) departs from his usual measured tone today and goes after Glenn Beck. He says a lot of obvious and sensible things, as  is his wont. This line, especially, sings:

“He makes you want to take a shower.”

Wish I could write like this

But I can’t. That’ s why Bob Herbert has a column in The New York Times and neither you nor I do. This morning, he’s feeling a tad testy about his President and about those big oil companies.

From An Unnatural Disaster:

“Where I was wrong,” said President Obama at his press conference on Thursday, “was in my belief that the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios.”

With all due respect to the president, who is a very smart man, how is it possible for anyone with any reasonable awareness of the nonstop carnage that has accompanied the entire history of giant corporations to believe that the oil companies, which are among the most rapacious players on the planet, somehow “had their act together” with regard to worst-case scenarios . . . 

These are greedy merchant armies drilling blindly at depths a mile and more beneath the seas while at the same time doing all they can to stifle the government oversight that is necessary to protect human lives and preserve the integrity of the environment.

President Obama knows that. He knows — or should know — that the biggest, most powerful companies do not have the best interests of the American people in mind when they are closing in on the kinds of profits that ancient kingdoms could only envy.

That’s about right.