Saturday, November 12, 2011

Finding Fault, Placing Fault is Not A Path To Solutions

Does not matter where you look, there is one simple reality...America is broken. There seems to be a lot of finger pointing going on as this group and that one looks to place blame, to find fault. The now generation, kids just getting out of high school and college who are looking for jobs that just do not exist want to blame the Baby Boomers. The Baby Boomers want to say, "not our fault, we played by the rules, and just want what is ours, the government saying they spent all our money, cannot meet their obligations." Those who are involved in the "Occupy Wall St" movement want to blame the one percent who keep getting richer, while those in the Tea Party are upset about TARP and Obamacare, want to talk about personal responsibility rather than collective responsibility.

Fact is, all this fault faulting, all the time spent placing blame is not solving the basic problems that we all face in the UNITED States of America. There is not one example I can find where the energies spent in assigning blame, finding fault in another has solved a problem. It is said America has become a litigious society, and we are...broken down to its simplest essence, a litigious nation is one obsessed with placing blame, finding fault in others, rather than searching for and finding solutions, rather than taking some personal responsibility, rather than realizing we all contributed to problems that we as a nation are facing today.

We all can agree that Social Security is broken...does it really matter who broke it? Question should be, what can we do (individually and collectively) to fix it for those on it, those about to be on it, and for those future citizens who will be on it decades from now? Imagine all our politicians in Washington DC setting aside partisan politics, putting aside their personal agenda (getting re-elected) and sitting in a room together looking for, and exploring solutions. Imagine the media supporting these efforts, and being the catalyst for a national conversation centered around finding solutions, paving a path to the future. No finger pointing, no sacred cows, but instead everyone focused on one question, "What needs to be done to save and preserve Social Security?"

All for one, and one for all. Shared responsibility, shared pain, and when the ship is turned around and heading into a prosperous tomorrow, shared gain for one and all.

In one of our local papers the other day, there was an article on the decline of our bridges here in Sullivan County. The article listed several reasons for this decline of our public infrastructure including shortage of staff, work crews down to less than half of previous levels from what they were say five years ago, as well as a lack of funding. There was a price tag associated with bringing those bridges back to a point of being safe, quotes from people busy wringing their hands as they mused, 'What are we going to do?"

How about looking at the simple facts on the ground. The bridges need fixed. The price to fix and repair all of our bridges, including the replacement of several of them in danger of collapsing is around $16-20 Million dollars. Furthermore, to repair and replace those bridges, keep them in good shape requires a larger staff than the county currently has. Working with round numbers, we have 80,000 citizens in Sullivan county, and it will cost around $16 Million dollars to repair all of our bridges working with the low number. That is a cost of $200 for every man woman and child for our county to have safe bridges, for our county to stop the decay in its tracks, eliminate the worry that one of our bridges could collapse with one of us on it.

Sure, none of us relishes having to cough up $200 for every member of our household, but all of us would love to have safe bridges today, rather than say waiting another 5-10 years for either the state or federal government to come up with the funding to make those repairs, not to mention that by the time the money is found, the price tag for repairs is going to be much higher.

Our county taking on such a public infrastructure restoration program would bring with it a lot of benefits that could go a long way to offsetting the costs incurred...being pro-active is always a good thing. We would be putting out of work people back to work. We would be improving our image outside of the county, and with proper publicity focused on this locally grown solution to a serious problem, we could possibly attract the attention of companies looking for a place to call home, and those companies locating into our county would bring with them new jobs, additional tax revenues. Consider such an investment an investment in our future, putting our money into actions today that will provide a better community for our children tomorrow.

Remembering some of the sayings I grew up with, "You have to spend money to make money" and "There is no such thing as a free lunch." Like it or not, our nation and its communities are broken, and we need to stop talking about the problems, and instead start focusing all of our time and energy on the task of finding solutions, and a lot of times, finding solutions means some short term pains for long term gains. As out mothers have always told us, "You have to take your medicine." We individually and collectively need to take our medicine, have to make the hard choices today to create a better tomorrow. We need less finger pointing, and more efforts focused on the task of finding solutions, locally and nationally.