America has a money problem

“Make no little plans…” (1)

-attributed to David Burnham, city planner and co-author of “The Chicago Plan,” c.1910

On March 31 the Congresswoman from the Bronx, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez , spoke to a cable TV audience about the scope of the American Jobs Plan released to the public. The “Infrastructure Bill” will soon be debated in Congress. During the interview, AOC was asked if the American Jobs Plan will meet with resistance in Congress as to its cost.

Let’s ponder the weirdness of this question, which AOC quickly turned around: the question, replied AOC, is “will the Infrastructure Bill do enough, and be enough, and achieve enough.” In wealth-obsessed America the imponderable of deliberating on the cost of a pile of social initiatives comes before the social reckoning of what the future might entail for relief from distress and struggle, distributed unequally. In the hollowed out governance America has inherited, the major topic for discussion accompanying the Biden proposal is “how much will it cost?”

Not a good start: 99 percent of Americans are waiting for the car keys.

In the dim past, the make-up of American politics was aligned along “fiscal responsibility.”Social policy aspirations were marginalized by a perception of impending waste. Framing the political discourse in this manner merely opened the door to corruption. Currently, the “party of fiscal responsibility” is the party of conspiracy, tinkering with voters’ rights — the breath of democracy — while “Rome” is burning and flooding.

What is America looking for? A balanced checkbook or a balanced social and collective movement to a “better, safer world?” Disputing that “we can’t have both,” opened the door to corruption a little wider. Every day in America is a “new-old day,” where we trudge over the detritus of half-measures, trying to keep our collective vision of “the glass half-full.” America whines about “promises undelivered” but with glazed over eyes, refuses to reassess what brought the country to this place. The door to corruption opens a little wider.

“America is exceptional,” is the underlying bromide in this journey, the salve for our broken dreams.

Not a good start.

April 1

1- Burnham’s full “quote,” c. 1910: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men`s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever- growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.’’