Sara Whitman

The Hoover Dam

Filed By Sara Whitman | March 24, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Great Depression, public works

We went and saw the Hoover Dam last week. It's really quite amazing - built in four years during the Great Depression. It was about pulling together, brilliance of engineering, and a national agenda that pushed forward such mind blowing projects.

Here's my question - if we, as a country, could do it then, why can't we do it now?

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We can't do it now because we don't seem to want to come together anymore. We have turned everything in our world into a zero-sum game where I have to get mine regardless of the cost to you.

I hesitate to bring it up in this context, but gay rights is a perfect example. People have come to believe that somehow, if gay people get rights equal to theirs, then their rights are somehow reduced.

The executive pay issues are another symptom. As an exec, I get mine regardless of how the company is doing overall. I'm entitled.

You're going to think me crazy, but I swear I think it is the result of the invention of air conditioning. Now hear me out on this. We've managed to create our own little bubbles around ourselves. We go into the garage and start our car, and raise the garage door. Drive to the office with the windows tightly closed. Come home the same way at night. If we venture outside in the evenings, it is either to the backyard (no more front porches in the evenings) or the gym with our headphones stuck tightly in our ears so we don't have to interact with anyone there.

We no longer have the shared experience of three TV networks, but hundreds, and we no longer share the same we read the news slanted just the way we like it.

There was a time when we sat out on the front porch in the evenings, and that often lead to chats with the neighbors. They might have been different than us, but that gave us a different insight on issues. Now we're locked into our own little fortresses, and no longer have that sense of connectedness or shared experience.

I know this waxing a bit nostalgic, but I think we've reduced our interactions with one another, so we just don't see the need to pull together anymore.

Sadly, I think there is a lack of solidarity in the US that existed then. Yes, people were angry and desperate.

However, most weren't looking for handouts or towards the government to fix the issues. They believed in hard work and earning a living to take care of their families.

I believe, to the demise of the American public, and the something for nothing mentality many seem to have, it will be hard to rally behind anything with the unity that once existed.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | March 25, 2009 5:00 AM

Remember we are much better off than when WPA was created. There is not a 20-25% multiyear unemployment rate. There has been no crippling DEflation. People still hated one another at that time and there was enhanced disunity if anything between those who were ready to scrap a market system and give America the advantages of Soviet Russia.

People do not cling to one another in family groups because Social Security allows grandma to live on her own. Enhanced unemployment compensation further creates independence of the individual. If anything, despite the incredible accomplishments coast to coast by the WPA people will not play together nicely in the public arena until they have to.

Or as Goldie Hawn said in "The Goodbye Girl:" "I love freedom more than anything, after I have eaten." Having food and any money at all was the glue that held WPA tent cities together. We can do these things if we need to, but I hope we never have to.

Yeah, we can't come together much anymore. Reasons listed above.

And, as Clinton found out and Obama is learning now, there's a small group of people who own this country and they're willing to strap on the dynamite and take the whole thing down with them if they have to. All to prevent sensible regulation of their industry.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | March 25, 2009 9:18 AM

The regulation is coming. The question remains if you want orderly evolution or unpredictable revolution.