I grew up hearing the phrase, "Nothing is certain in life but Death and Taxes". The implied message was that both things are bad. However, having been born in the Baby Boom Generation, I watched our countries leaders accomplish things that made me proud. Some achievements were obvious, including putting a man on the moon. Other decisions came quietly, without much fanfare, but built a nation that I eventually took for granted. Decisions that protected me, kept me safe.
Eventually, once past my rebellious teen years, I expected the government to keep me safe and knew inherently that our tax dollars were required for this. I still didn't like paying all of those taxes but knew deep inside it was necessary. As laws and regulations were implemented, our lives and the lives of our children were made better.
Many years ago, I travelled to Mexico and stayed in an American hotel in a very popular tourist destination. I was only there for 4 days but my eyes were opened to a country that did not have its peoples' best interests in mind.
On our first morning, we left the hotel and walked down the sidewalk toward the street. About 25 feet from the front door, I looked to my right where a short brick wall ran along the sidewalk. This brick wall came to about the middle of my shin. To my dismay, on the other side of that little wall, was a 50 foot drop onto a tennis court. At that moment, all I could envision was one of my children tumbling over to their death. My next thought was that in the USA, there were regulations requiring a barrier to prevent that.
That evening, we went for a walk again. Carefully walking past the little brick wall, we heading north down the sidewalk along the street. There were few street lights but felt safe since there were many hotels dotting the area. Several blocks down the street, we almost fell into a huge hole in the sidewalk. There was an entire section torn out and was about 6 feet deep. There were NO barriers or barricades preventing us from falling in. Again, we praised the good old USA for having regulations to protecting us.
The third day we headed downtown on a bus to the markets. After spending the afternoon, we boarded a bus to return to the hotel. Not far down the road, all traffic came to a halt. There had been an accident up ahead. This street was a four lane divided road with splits for crossing or making turns. After sitting there for a few minutes, the bus driver pulled over onto the wrong side of the road and began driving into the oncoming traffic. NOT SLOWLY EITHER! He sped up to about 55 MPH as cars hurtled toward us. This didn't last just a few blocks; it went on for several miles. Along the way, there were policemen who paid no attention nor tried to stop this driver.
By the end of this trip, it was clear that we lived in a country that protected us in ways that we really never thought about and took for granted. It made us want to kiss the US soil when we landed back home. A trip to the Bahamas led to similar situations, again making me grateful that I lived here. This leads me to a scary change within the Republican Party. They are trying to block legislation for the EPA and the FAA, effectively shutting them down. These are two of the agencies that I have come to expect will protect us. I don't even think about it, ever.
Why is this a bad idea? Once upon a time, the Ohio River used to catch fire! YES, CATCH ON FIRE, including burning down bridges that crossed over it, in fact, many times! Factories had been dumping waste there with no thought of the impact on the wildlife or dangers they created. Our laws and regulations cleaned up our water by hitting these companies where it hurt most, in their pocket books. The EPA was established and grew to protect us. But now, the Republicans want to get rid of it. WHY? Why would we get rid of an agency that protects us?
Two weeks ago, the Republicans prevented funding to the FAA. They blocked it again last night, August 1st, 2011. If you didn't know, this is the agency that makes sure our planes don't fall out of the sky and kill its passengers due to shoddy practices. With the exception of the air traffic controllers, all employees are now laid off. Now, no one is watching the 'store'.
In similar situations, we KNOW that some companies have done things that put us at risk. When no one was watching, they did things that were in their best interest but put all of us in danger. The agencies, however, effectively stopped or greatly limited those practices and made our country a better, safer place.
But here we are. 2011. Not every company complies and not every company is caught violating regulations, but our life in this country sure is better in so many ways. I KNOW that after visiting foreign countries. But now, the Republicans are trying to do away with agencies that have been instrumental in making our country safe, special. A country that I wanted to kiss the ground of after experiencing what happens when there aren't agencies like the EPA and FAA.
And that my friends, is a sad commentary on our country, the politics of today and those who were elected to protect us. Whether you are Democrat or Republican, I defy you to feel comfortable putting your child on an airplane or let them swim in a lake, if they succeed in eliminating these agencies.
And by the way, don't EVEN get me started on the Republican desire to weaken the Consumer Financial protections meant to keep Wall Street and Banks from screwing the economy all over AGAIN!