Well, perhaps the first thing to say is: Imagine what it must have been like for your crowded rush-hour subway suddenly to lose all power and light (and air conditioning), in the middle of a pitch black tunnel 100 feet below ground . . . not realizing power was out all the way from Toronto to Detroit . . . and then eventually to grope your way out (with the small worry, I would imagine – although I was safely on the phone at home at the time – that you’d be touching the Third Rail just at the instant power came back on).

You might think it would be a good idea to employ a lot of folks installing emergency lights and communications systems down there, powered by a separate generator . . . and to supply our first-responders around the country with things like walkie-talkies and, as appropriate, haz-mat suits and such . . . but the money for such an enterprise went to cutting taxes for the super-rich, so that’s that.

I would actually go further and say that our long-term success as a nation depends on our raising terrific, well educated, well nurtured kids, so that we should be employing even more people to refurbish run-down schools, reducing student-teacher ratios, funding rather than cutting a wide variety of art and enrichment and after-school programs (yes, midnight basketball), increasing rather than cutting back Americorps, and coming up with yet new programs like this* in a virtual celebration of youth and their – which is our – future. The only losers, it seems to me, would be those who profit from an ever growing prison population.

But we’ve made the choice to cut taxes for the rich instead, so that’s that.

It could be neat to invest in alternative-energy research and in incentives that would reduce our long-term dependence on imported oil (empowering our friends the Saudis, who it’s worth remembering had nothing at all to do with September 11) . . . a policy and that would help make us a leader in what will surely be a huge business opportunity of this century – the ‘environment’ business.

It would be nice, also, to engage our wealthy allies in a massive Marshall Plan / Manhattan Project, whose goal were little short of eradicating much of the world’s preventable hunger and disease over the next 20 years (and in doing so, help to jumpstart prosperity that will, in turn, increase our own).**

But we’ve made the choice to cut taxes for the rich instead, so that’s that.

Anyway, the lights should be back on here in New York well before you wake to read this, and I still have 54% of my laptop battery power remaining – oops, make that 53% – so I will get off my high horse and back to doing my taxes, due tomorrow (today, as you read this), on extension, knowing that next year, when I do them, they will be dramatically lower. (Ah, to live in a country with no taxes and no government. Liberia!)

*I’ve got one! How about employing more young doctors and nurses to give all kids great health care?

**This is admittedly difficult to do and fraught with a huge potential for unintended consequences, just as our own well-intentioned War on Poverty decades ago brought with it so many casualties; but that’s the Manhattan Project aspect of it – to get the world’s best minds to figure out ways to use resources wisely.


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