Saturday, September 10, 2011


Sitting here, on the eve of 9/11, I have a terrible admission to make - I don't get it. I don't get the self pity, the commercialization, the angst. I have the feeling that once again we're seeing the outward manifestation of the inner workings of the most self centered generation in the world, the baby boomers.

Look, I understand the historical importance of the attack. I understand the loss and tragedy on a personal level for the families of the victims. I realize that the attack changed America forever, mostly for the worst and mostly due to the actions of our own government.

I know the toll in lives since the attack, both for our soldiers and for all those we've killed on foreign soil. If there was some need for vengeance I'd think that we've just about satisfied it, though it's a hollow victory. I know that we've done some damage to Al-Qaeda, but that we haven't completely taken them out. And I know that the world is more dangerous today than it was in 2001, regardless of the number of lives lost and the treasure spent - or wasted.

But I don't understand why the country, at least if one is to believe the New York media, is coming to a stop.

That's the thing, though, isn't it. The country isn't coming to a stop. Most of us know what day it is and we'll say a silent prayer for the victims, the attackers, the country and the world and then we'll get on about our lives. 9/11 isn't a truly defining moment for most of us. It's a pivot point in history, just like Pearl Harbor or the Battle of Hastings.

It is a defining point, however, for the people of New York, including the media. And that's why the rest of us are being subjected to non-stop hyperbole and sensationalism. Did we see this sort of hoopla on the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City? A minor event in comparison, to be sure, but still a significant terrorist attack on American soil that resulted in a large loss of innocent life. We still hear more about the '93 attack on the Trade Center every year than about Oklahoma City. Again, because that's where the media lives.

Don't get me wrong. I think that it's important that we remember the attack in 2001. But I think that it's equally important that we remember Pearl Harbor and the firing on Fort Sumter. All three of these events caused fundamental changes to America.

That being said, I think that 9/11 has become less about remembering and more about promotion. To me it feels far more like a circus than a memorial. More about the people that are alive than the ones that are dead.

More focused on the self than on others.

But then, that's what my generation has always been about.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Wow, it's been so long since I've written anything on here that I'm forgetting how to use the controls so bear with me.

Tomorrow the Missouri Legislature starts debate in a special session to decide whether to approve the China Hub bill. This thing is dirty from top to bottom.

First a bit of background. St. Louis is rolling in unused airport capacity. Over on the Illinois side we've got Mid-America Airport, a group of shiny new buildings and a nifty tower with a big long strip of asphalt road running in front of it. We've been told that the road is supposed to be used to land airplanes on but it's never really been tried so we're not sure it'll work yet. But, everyday, the buildings are opened and the lights turned on while all eyes are cast skyward and all ears strain, listening for the drone of an engine. And they do hear them. Unfortunately, they all tend to land next door at Scott Air Force Base. Oh well, maybe someday Scott'll be filled up and they'll need to come over to Mid-America.

Because of the overcrowding at Mid-America, Lambert (used to be international, now not so much) Airport in St. Louis decided it needed to expand. And it did. It (we) spent over a billion dollars gobbling up neighborhoods and the better part of Bridgeton, burying Lindbergh Blvd. in a tunnel and moving vast amounts of earth. And now, just like across the river, we've got a really nice stretch of brand new road that nobody drives on that we are told is supposed to be a landing strip.

Up 'til a few years ago Lambert was an international airport and TWA's home base. It was also a hub for Southwestern. But when TWA went under it took Lambert down, too. Not completely, there's still a bunch of traffic, but it lost it's international routes and became more of a second tier airport, just like the city it serves has become a second, no, third tier city.

And that's the real problem. St. Louis, once the home to a number of Fortune 500 company headquarters has dwindled away.

I'm old enough to remember the good days. At one time, St. Louis was second only to Detroit in auto production. The Big Three all had plants here. We had shoe factories and breweries. Ralston Purina was home owned. Monsanto is still here but they're one of the few left. It wasn't hard to make a decent living here or across the river where the meat packing plants and foundries ran day and night.

When I was a kid, carpenters and doctors, factory workers and bankers pretty much lived in the same neighborhoods because everybody was making decent money. And the reason for this was manufacturing. We were a city that built things the world needed. And building those things created good jobs that paid good wages, real wealth that was then spent in the community supporting other businesses. Sure, business owners got rich but then their employees did pretty well, too, because they had the skill needed to make the products that the business sold. The means of production were dispersed across the society as a whole.

But now we've become a service sector city, building nothing, just filling out spreadsheets and moving things that others built around warehouses. We try to skim a little of the real wealth created by others off the top to put in our pockets. Most of the wealth goes to the business owners because, when you get right down to it, it doesn't take much skill to do most of the work that gets done in a service economy so finding people to do it at low wages is relatively easy. The day of the skilled trade have drawn to a close. And even for the few skilled trades people left the wages have collapsed because the service sector workers can't afford to pay them.

So what's the solution for this dilemma? Well, if one is to believe our state government, the way to fix the problem is to spend hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to line the pockets of a few special interests all in the hopes of creating more service jobs to support Chinese slaves manufacturing cheap goods to sell to us. We're being told that skimming a little off the top of an increasingly diminishing pie using low paying jobs that create no real wealth is the answer to our problems.

If you believe that I've got a couple of slightly used runways to sell you.

If you live in Missouri call your Reps and Senators and tell them to vote no on the China Hub Bill. My guess is that the fix is already in but we can dream, can't we?