January 7, 2007

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


2007 for me has the feel of a year full of fresh starts. Some have started and others are hopefully coming soon. The most publicized is the 110th Congress with the Democrats taking control. What I thought interesting about the election last November is that most Republicans acted as if it was a complete surprise. However, to me it was no surprise that my party of choice was going to get kicked in the teeth. The media had warned them and their stubborn President. Their intellectuals had warned them, by that I mean people like Newt Gringrich and Peggy Noonan. Both openly spoke about the Republicans acting like Democrats. Both thought Republicans had betrayed their promise to the voters to contain wasteful spending. Both thought the Congress was not over-seeing the war to make sure all those tax dollars were being spent intelligently and effectively.

And in the final days before the election, with their President claiming his party would retain control of Congress, both Gringrich and Noonan basically resigned themselves to the coming defeat. All the pork and scandals turned the stomach of the average voter. The President who refused to veto anything to discipline this undisciplined Congress shares much of the blame. For all the smarts that our female Secretary of State has, it is hard to understand why the Administration could not come to grips with Iraq falling into a civil war that killed an average of 2000 civilians a month for the year.

Domestically, issues were ignored left and right. Social Security's shortfall was ignored and will have to be dealt with later. Sadly, the longer we wait, the more it will cost the workers who pay for this program. Government problems are like remodeling - the longer you wait the more expensive the cost. Another waffling is the illegal immigrant flood at our Mexican border. Congress managed to authorize a fence with no funding that is too short to do any real good.

Meanwhile, the flood of billions of dollars for domestic pork continued to bath the country in red ink. It reminds me of the guns and butter policy of another Texan President, namely Lyndon Johnson, who created the foundation for the bad inflation the country would have to deal with at the end of the 1960's and for much of the 1970's.

Another issue this Congress failed to address is the ethical bankruptcy of our health industry. It is as if the hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and insurance companies are all trying to emulate the wastefulness of Congress in their rush to pick our pockets.

I know there are many more issues that were ignored. Lack of leadership results in many other secondary issues ending up slowly twisting in the wind. When so much time is wasted in killing and avoiding issues there is no time to deal with other important issues. Yes, it was time to sweep the blackguards out and bring in a new crop of fresh blackguards. I always felt it was a shame the Republicans dumped Newt and never passed term limits. I am a firm believer in new blood.

And Ely seems to agree with that. The cleaning out of all incumbents on the council, including the mayor, shows we want change. We hopefully elected new blood and new courage to try and move our lackluster economy forward. While so much of America has grown rich, our town is starting to look more like a ghost town when you look at the number of empty commercial buildings. I wish the Mayor and Council well as I do not have a clue how we can reverse this problem that so many Range cities share.

I do see 2007 as a year to be optimistic. I don't expect things to change overnight, but perhaps the mood will change. Once people believe that things can be made better, especially by doing it themselves, then maybe we can see some new efforts of entrepreneurship on our wonderful main streets. Now with fresh ideas being voiced in Congress as well as in St. Paul, perhaps some fresh breezes will revive our fortunes in Ely.


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