HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Good Reads (Forum) » A Failed Experiment

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 09:33 PM

A Failed Experiment

In upper-middle-class suburbs on the East Coast, the newest must-have isn’t a $7,500 Sub-Zero refrigerator. It’s a standby generator that automatically flips on backup power to an entire house when the electrical grid goes out.

In part, that’s a legacy of Hurricane Sandy. Such a system can cost well over $10,000, but many families are fed up with losing power again and again.

(A month ago, I would have written more snarkily about residential generators. But then we lost power for 12 days after Sandy — and that was our third extended power outage in four years. Now I’m feeling less snarky than jealous!)

More broadly, the lust for generators is a reflection of our antiquated electrical grid and failure to address climate change. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our grid, prone to bottlenecks and blackouts, a grade of D+ in 2009. . .

This question of public goods hovers in the backdrop as we confront the “fiscal cliff” and seek to reach a deal based on a mix of higher revenues and reduced benefits. It’s true that we have a problem with rising entitlement spending, especially in health care. But I also wonder if we’ve reached the end of a failed half-century experiment in ever-lower tax rates for the wealthy.

Since the 1950s, the top federal income tax rate has fallen from 90 percent or more to 35 percent. Capital gains tax rates have been cut by more than half since the late 1970s. Financial tycoons now often pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

All this has coincided with the decline of some public services and the emergence of staggering levels of inequality (granted, other factors are also at work) such that the top 1 percent of Americans now have greater collective net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent.

Not even the hum of the most powerful private generator can disguise the failure of that long experiment.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/opinion/kristof-a-failed-experiment.html?hp



9 replies, 1925 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread

Response to elleng (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 10:01 PM

1. This sucks

Where's the constituency that demands more money repairing infrastructure?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to SariesNightly (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 10:14 PM

2. Public workers, union members, community organizers, etc. You know. The *bad* peoople.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to elleng (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 10:28 PM

3. An FDR-type program

could put those of us starving for work back to work rebuilding the nation's ancient infrastructure and getting the economy moving again.

Still, the economy and economic indicators need to reflect more of reality and less of select piggies' wealth.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to elleng (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 10:32 PM

4. David Cay Johnston wrote a great piece for the 11/26-12/3 issue of Newsweek.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to elleng (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 11:25 PM

5. The down side to some being able to afford

a $10,000 or more back up generator system, is that those people then may not as heartily endorse the needed upgrades to the power infrastructure.

I have never in my life (and I'm 64) had a power outage last more than a few hours. Six is maybe the longest I've ever endured. I've had the wonderful good fortune to live in places where I've often had underground utilities, and therefore never lost power even when other parts of my metro area were without for a week or more. Or, I've simply not had the bad luck to go through a storm or something else that can take out the power for a long time.

My point is, I can't imagine how I would deal with an outage that looked like it would last more than a day or two.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to elleng (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:07 AM

6. I suspect this also relates to deregulation of public services infrastructure.

. . . i.e., another looting opportunity created and exploited.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to snot (Reply #6)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:16 AM

7. Public utilities, like electric and gas companies?

Yes, quite. Nothing like publicly mandated 'private' monopolies 'serving' us.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to elleng (Reply #7)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:18 AM

8. Yup!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to elleng (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 06:16 PM

9. I feel so honored to have lived most of my adult life as a guinea pig in that 'failed experiment'...

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread