Wednesday, September 24, 2008
$700 Billion Bailout vs 11 Days No Power for 500,000
Eleven days after IKE cut power over 500,000 Houston area people are still without power, including some of my team members. Being "in the dark" gives one clarity - like seeing a proposal to bail out investment firms with $700 billion without oversight, in a rush. Yet no one mentions that just five (5) of the investment firms paid out $39 BILLION (with a "b") in bonuses LAST YEAR. Why should taxpayers pay for these? If you had those bonuses repaid, the taxpayer burden would drop dramatically.
Having endured 6 days of no power, I had had enough of being a "caveman." I can't imagine 11 days of no hot showers, air conditioning (it's been in the high 80's again), etc.
The buildings on one side of my Seabrook condo have power - the buildings on the other side are dark and still out of power.
TV has been showing images of the first residents to get back into Galveston - only to find anything below 6 feet was washed into a debris pile. In their rebuilding efforts it is clear that Galveston buildings need to be elevated at least 10 feet, maybe more if we get hit by a CAT 3 storm (or higher). That should be part of any Congress rebuilding plan if they give Galveston the requested $2 billion.
Otherwise it will all wash away again in the next storm. We need to do the same all along the American coasts. Storms are getting strong. Texas Gov. Perry has refused to endorse the "hardening" of our utilities - which means the whole process of losing power for weeks while trees are pulled off poles will continue. It is a shortsighted decision. It could be a long term plan but it needs to happen. We need to start taking care of Main Street if we want to prosper. Main Street has been left out of the Paulson plan.
Traffic lights are still out everywhere and the toll roads are free and clogged to the max. We are one mass traffic jam as gas is now available but being able to move is hindered by the lack of timed lights.
And it appears that the gas shortages in Atlanta and now Tennessee is due to IKE's damaging pipelines that carry gasoline north and east to those areas. It's more confirmation that hurricanes are national threats, just just a coastal one. Power was knocked out from Texas to Ohio due to IKE.
We need to invest in upgrading our infrastructure to avoid these outages in the future. Government, like business, should "plan ahead" instead of just doing bandaide acts that don't solve the problem or prepare for the threat we know will be an annual event. We can't repeal the laws of nature or make future storms go away.
So we either keep rebuilding and living like cavemen and women, or we act like intelligent human beings and upgrade our building codes so we don't have to live primitively unless we really want to go camping for weeks at a time.
We need leadership that will invest in Main Street, not just Wall Street -- and giving billionaires a free pass. If you agree, let Congress know.