Monday, October 10, 2005

How was your weekend?

Damn, that Mother Nature is in a foul mood these days. Not content with her Asian tsunami and Hurrican Katrina handiwork, she sprinkles an earthquake in Pakistan into her heady mix of global misery. Another death toll so large that it's difficult to comprehend. More billions for aid money in the ledger. Further suspicion that nobody has any idea how to figure out the ledger anymore.

Meanwhile, economic news here in Michigan continues to be alarming. Delphi, the G.M. auto parts spinoff, declared bankruptcy. I realized a few weeks ago that this was probably inevitable, but it still astounds me when a company of Delphi's size and scope can go Chapter 11. It's fairly clear their health care and pension packages make it impossible to operate in our new economy. At the same time, the changes in bankruptcy laws that go into effect on October 17th pushed them into this decision. (The new bankruptcy legislation, promoted by the banking and credit card industry, is having the unintended consequence of pushing people and companies to declare bankruptcy preeemptively. Lump this legislation into Washington's prevailing attitude for the past few years: if it feels righteous, do it.)

I think it's about time for some serious can-do on the part of government and business in this country. The powers-that-be in Washington should declare a one week moratorium on all debate about Supreme Court justices, school prayer, euthanasia, broadcast decency standards and gay marriage. In lieu of all that hot air, invite the nation's business leaders to Congress and do absolutely nothing except work together to formulate realistic plans on two issues: health care and energy. No television theater either — there's a dearth of patience for heard-it-before testimony and senators jockeying to make 2006 campaign speeches. Book some conference rooms and start ordering pizza. Get something done.

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