The Polish Daily News
By David Glenn Cox
God has been throwing acorns at the house lately, too much time on his hands, I suppose. He can’t kill African babies all the time and he sure hasn’t been helping Willard (Mitt) Romney any. The acorns come down hard on the roof like rocks or like Mitt’s falling poll numbers whichever you prefer. I think I like Cleveland, its comfortable like an old pair of shoes. They have this lake front, where regular people can live. In Chicago, they would be million dollar properties, here they are just apartments. To me of course a Great Lake is a Great Lake, I’m not about to get snobbish about it, especially as a new comer.
I went to see the Christmas Story house and while we were in the neighborhood we visited Saint Theodosius Cathedral. Poor little Ralphie, his neighborhood falling into disrepair. When we arrived we saw the obligatory leg lamp in Ralphie’s front window and an excavator climbing up the rubble pile of a demolished house next door. Your eyes quickly adjust to this carnage and boarded up houses of what must have been at one time an urban paradise. As we cruised the neighborhoods we saw an old brick building with a concrete mantle which proudly proclaimed, “The Polish Daily News -1922”
It was a time when America held promise, when Ukrainian immigrants could pool their collective resources and build not just a church but a cathedral. They were staking their claim as Americans, they were Ukrainians but now, they were also Americans. They fought for their labor rights and survived the last Great Depression and in their prosperity they were assimilated into the American maelstrom.
The neighborhoods of Cleveland remind me of the neighborhoods of Atlanta, only older. Boarded up windows and doors spare no architecture, be it period housing versus boarded up bungalow ranch style with its vinyl siding and faux brick. Decay is decay, but there is more, this plague cannot be isolated to architecture alone. It permeates our society as a whole, when I was in Portland; I was walking to the coffee shop one morning about 9:30 and all around me were groups of men in twos and three’s who should have been at work.
I was filled with stories of cars which no longer run and of owner’s with no money to fix them. My uncle used to buy a new car every two years. He was a foreman in a factory, I knew lots of people who bought new cars, these were happy times and prosperous memories. Days when people had “good jobs,” remember, “Oh, Mary’s got a “good job” but what is a “good job” today? Just down the street from here is a pretty little three bedroom, two bath period home probably built sometime in the 1920’s. It’s big and roomy, warm and cozy with period trimmings of wide oak moldings, large windows and a big old fashioned front porch surrounded by a heavy railing.
I’m told that this house could be had for $8,000 American and that there are in Cleveland, hundreds of these houses. The simple reason they’re selling so cheaply is because there are no jobs and no credit for what I call the poor, and the politicians call the middle class. The middle class is an imaginary group of American’s like Bill Cosby’s Huxtables who live mainly on TV and on Madison Avenue. But, if these houses are bad assets driving down the banks ability to be profitable and if we have millions of unemployed and millions of homeless including half a million who are children aged 0-5. Then let’s take these houses off of the banks hands. Then let’s hire these unemployed to do the repairs necessary to make the homes livable.
Then let’s sell the house for a reasonable price, say $16,000. We help the bank, we help the poor, we create jobs, just another big govement program, which helps everyone, instead of just the banks. When FDR tried to help people to keep their homes in 1933 with the Home Owners Loan Corporation, the home price slide ended within a year and who did that help the most but the banks. We are entering our fifth year of home price declines, culling the fringe, but now the plague is infecting the whole. If the free market can correct itself, how much longer is this going to take?
We could do a lot of things, God’s not throwing acorns at us, this plague is man made, but Damn it Mitt, you’re not supposed to lose this bad. Not since Montgomery Burns was forced to take a bite from Blinky, the three eyed fish has there been a politician been so publicly debased. Paul Ryan the ambitious man, faced off against a hostile Louisiana crowd, and as Ryan spoke, the crowd murmured aggressively. As Ryan explained that he and Mitt Romney wanted to fix the economy by doing away with Obama care, the crowd loudly booed and cat called.
It was a surreal moment and had it been in black and white would have resembled that scene from “The Bride of Frankenstein” where the monster puts his hands up defensively yelling, “Fire Bad!” from the balcony of the old wind mill. That moment when the flaming torch salesman sells out his stock and the networks begin offering gaff to gaff coverage. Still, I admired Ryan’s courage, Louisiana crowds can be tough even when you’re just playing football against them but when you start talking about taking mamere’s Social Security they will call you, bebette mal pris.
But now with Willard imploding, Obama with no real record to run on and the worst economy in seventy years will coast into office with an alleged mandate of public approval. This too is a part of the plague, this too affects our national mindset, just when the public asks, “Could there ever be a worse candidate than Sarah Palin?” the Republican’s choose two, count em, two Sarah Palin’s.
Did you know that the F-22 fighter program is going to cost us over 66 Billion dollars? Do you know how many homes we could purchase and rehab for 66 billion dollars? How many people we could put to work and in a home? Suddenly we wake on the bus and realize in terror we’ve missed our stop. The President elect will dredge up the corpse of the Simpson – Bowles commission and begin to build a new monster from its parts. The Commission’s report was aptly named, The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Whenever politicians start talking about Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, you have a pretty good idea where they plan on getting the heart and the ass for this new monster.
There are moments when there is no turning back, when your fate has been decided, one is when they push the bar down into your lap on a roller coaster another is when political campaigns no longer have any relationship to what is going on in the general public. Willard promises [Generic Right Wing Political Message Here] while Obama offers us Forward! How many people will work in this forward? What kind of wages can I expect in forward? Can I join Local 12 of the forwarders union? Can I eat forward? Will forward keep me warm this winter?
Where is the vision thing and now that Willard has so screwed the pooch, the Democrats might gain control of the Congress and be forced to actually do something, but what will they do? Personally, I see the kites being launched from the castle, I see a thunderstorm brewing and lights on late in the laboratory windows at night.