Friday, November 5, 2010

Sunrise At Veterans

There is a little park at the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge I like to visit from time to time. It's place with covered picnic tables overlooking the water, a small sandy beach and easy access for people to go swimming, which visitors do in large numbers even in the winter. At dawn though, Veterans Memorial Park is place I can have almost entirely to myself.A cold front is ravaging Florida and temperatures this weekend are scheduled to hover in the mid 70's by day and lower 60's by night, the kinds of temperatures that cool the ocean waters given enough time and make the threat of hurricanes fade into insignificance even though the season doesn't officially end until the end of the month.The election is behind us at last and what I called National Irrelevance Day saw the wife and I out voting at the Scout's Camp on Summerland Key. I like going out to vote on Election Day, perhaps because I'm a traditionalist, perhaps because I don't like to have my vote decided before the last minute surprises in the campaigns have made themselves known. This year Florida distinguished itself by electing one of the only millionaires to get voter approval around the nation. Governor Elect Rick Scott distinguishes himself by having spent 73 million to win the job (that pays less than the Director of Monroe County's Mosquito Control Board). He is also distinguished by having headed up Columbia/HCA medical insurance ripoff artists who defrauded Medicare of God knows how much, fessed up to fourteen felonies and paid hundreds of millions in fines. Now he's going to running the state next year. I hope he knows how to rip people off to benefit the state. I doubt we are going to get any health insurance reform down here with him in charge.Cheyenne found something disgusting to eat. Key West city voters (not me!) agreed to buy Glynn Archer School to build a new city hall, if the School Board agrees to sell it. They also voted to sell off a piece of the Pier House Resort that got hung up and is actually rented to the resort by the city owing to some past oversight. Everyone hopes the city will rip the resort a new one and get some money to pay for the new city hall. The favorites won election to the Monroe County Board of Commissioners though I voted in favor of Sloan Bashinsky instead of George Neugent. Generally I like Neugent but he pissed me off at the last minute by saying he opposed Amendment Four which would have required vote approval for land use designation changes to general plans across the State. It was viewed with scepticism by developers and there were all sorts of threats of unintended consequences so the Amendment went down to defeat. Anyway I voted for Bashinsky, a dude who actually makes a lot of sense on his positions but keeps qualifying them by saying angels tell him what to do in his dreams which rather lessens his effectiveness. Still, he got almost 30% of the vote so you can tell there is some dissatisfaction floating around.
Essentially every single vote I cast, except for Ron Saunders for State Legislature, a solid Democrat who will head up the party in Tallahassee's lower chamber, went to the losing side. I have a feeling that considering how ineffective voting is and how effective lobbying by corporations with money is, I will be able to look back and say, at least they didn't get my vote. I have a feeling Florida, like the rest of country, will keep charging down the path of lies, prevarications, posturing and economic stagnation for the next few years. I don't think I would much like to be a Republican in Washington these days. They are now hedged in by rabid Tea Partiers behind them demanding fiscal accountability and Democrats in the Senate and White House holding the line on doing anything at all. The weird thing is you'd think it would be obvious that if cutting the federal budget were possible someone would have figured out how to do it by now. God knows the people have been clamoring for such cuts. Until reality takes hold. Cut the military? Social Security? Medicare? Debt Payments? No one actually has a clue how to cut the Federal Budget because whatever anyone does will piss off a large segment of the voting public. Faced with this impossibility our politicians lie to us and keep on printing money and hoping for the best.It seems to me the US, faced with a debt of 15 trillion or more has only two choices, one is to default and simply not pay it off. That would be interesting and I'll bet the Chinese would have a conniption fit, followed by every single nation in the world right after them. Or we have to knuckle under, pay more taxes and pay the bill for the last few decades of wild spending. That idea isn't going to go over well at all at home. More conniption fits would follow. So, instead of having a grown up debate about what to do we keep on deficit spending, selling bonds to ourselves and hoping something will turn up to remove our fiscal chestnuts from the fire. Perhaps a nice conflagration with Iran? As if blowing up Afghanistan weren't enough...I feel like we are living through some sort of phony financial war. We all pretend that there is some hope somewhere down the line that things will get better but in reality things are stagnating and our leaders, corporate and political either don't care or are fresh out of ideas about what to do. So we vote, and throw one lot out expecting the new lot to do something positive in the next couple of years or we'll give them the heave ho. I'm guessing the Tea Party wackos will really get to feel their oats in 2012. A bunch of not witches, fascist thugs and know nothing anti-constitutionalists ("No such thing as separation of Church and State!" will be the rallying cry) running for office will be very interesting to watch as they turf out traditional Republicans and scythe down feebly protesting Democrats. Either that or the Republican Representatives really do have a secret weapon to jump start jobs and get it all done in the next year and a half...
So while all this madness plays out Up North down here we go to work, if we have jobs, we swim, watch the sunrise and ignore the price of heating oil. Cheyenne is my consolation in a world that can't give me sensible answers to pressing economic problems that don't lend themselves to sound bite political posturing. She smells cooking on the grill and she checks it out. Across the water the sun comes up, the sky lightens and the air is still warm on the skin even though it is November and a cold front threatens.I have no idea where we are headed as a country and as an economy. The eternal non issue of abortion rights and gay rights are back on the radar as Republicans flex their muscles to interfere in people's lives, but what to do with 15 million unemployed is too hard a question to answer. Government they tell us doesn't create jobs, but no one else seems to want to either.
I thank my lucky stars I have a job I enjoy and that seems, so far, to have security and future prospects. What I will do when gas reaches 5 dollars a gallon, or worse I don't know. Keep on keeping on I guess. At least I live in the Keys, is my answer.And these guys cleaning the toilets at Veterans Park have jobs too, presumably contract work for Monroe County, but a job it is. We are the lucky ones, in this employment massacre that is the USA. Unlike Ireland and Greece we normally have a resilient flexible economy so we can hope that things will get better for us. If you have low expectations you are less likely to be disappointed I suppose. With the sun finally trying to make an appearance from behind the clouds it was time for me to go home and sleep, like a vampire, not like the night worker that I am.Watching the President prevaricate and the Congress shout "No!" in unison from behind a snow drift would be too much for me. From the vantage point of the Fabulous Florida Keys anything is bearable, just about.