Lords of COBOL



And so, like the roads and bridges and dams of the Eisenhower and
Johnson and Roosevelt administrations that were supposed to be budgeted
for, planned for and replaced as part of thoughtful, long-range
planners but never were and are now rotting out from underneath us…

of the Big Iron software systems from an age gone by ended up in the
hands of short-term, immediate-profit-driven consultant-types who saw
no reason why they shouldn’t patch and paint just enough life out of
those systems to last until they skipped out for the next gig…

behind systems buried way down deep in the heart of the organization
that no one knows how to fix anymore, and which continues to groan ever
louder and shudder ever harder under the weight of what continues to be
stacked on top of them.

[snipping Space Cowboys clip because it will just distract me with thoughts of how much I really want to own Heartbreak Ridge on DVD, becauseFuck Yeah Clint Eastwood is an actual blog]

Of course, any and all of this could be fixed.

All it requires is money: the political will to collect it and the discipline to spend it on what matters.

Which will never happen.

it would put millions of people back to work and rebuild the foundation
on which our future success and prosperity depends, but spending
billions on rebuilding infrastructure is now called Socialism, and
spending money on Socialism makes All Real Americans mad.

As opposed to pissing trillions away into endless wars half a world a away, which makes All Real Americans happy.

As in the past ten years, particularly during the whacked-out nationalistic summer of suck that was 2003 when almost no one wanted to talk about how everything the president was doing was insane, it’s completely infuriating that we are so determinedly not having this conversation.

I mean we’re not having it HARD. We’re standing here, it’s right in front of us, and we’re white-knuckled on the ropes holding on to try to keep from getting sucked into it. We’re throwing all this shit at it, as it yawns before us like a black hole, we’re throwing chairs and giant stuffed giraffes and basketballs, all this free-market crap, at it and talking about green jobs and retraining 52-year-old steelworkers to teach modern dance, and the conversation’s still there, and we’re not having it so loudly it’s drowning out everything else.

And when you bring up shit like this, that maybe we should put people back to work building things that need building, it sounds absolutely absurd because surely if it were that easy somebody would have done it, right? It can’t be that easy, nothing’s that easy, we have all this crap in the way. It’s impossible, say the men in the suits, it can’t be done. We appreciate your passion. We understand your point of view, but it’s impossible. Because we say it is.

Because there’s no such thing as justtaking giant piles of cash and throwing them at projects. There’s no such thing as doing the job and worrying about the consequences later. There’s no such thing as saying so fucking what somebody gamed the system, screwed up, abused our trust, look at all the other people that got helped.

There’s no such thing as doing any of that, except when there is. And I don’t know what scares me more, honestly, as we stand here ignoring the thing in front of us gnawing at our bones: That we will never reach such a point of extremity that we will ignore what others say is impossible, or that we will reach it, sooner than we think.


6 thoughts on “Lords of COBOL

  1. Can’t see anything happening until the collapse. The guys making out well are just smart enough to know they cannot afford any changes whatsoever. And the number one rule in America is that no wealthy person must ever lose any money ever.

  2. There’s no such thing as doing any of that, except when there is.
    I recommend reading NYMag’s wankoff about David Brooks, especially the part where the author puts on a subtle Fair Hat and writes:
    The Standard was where Brooks seized on “national greatness” as the future of conservatism. He thought Republicans adrift in late-nineties Clintonian prosperity, chiding them for narrow-mindedly pursuing small government, and called for “grand American projects” that exemplified the national spirit, be they construction projects, scientific research, anything, really.
    followed by
    What makes Brooks’s philosophy so out of sync right now is that it’s all about not eating the marshmallow. “National greatness” projects, from railroads to Internet grids to energy bills, take patience and investment. They don’t pay off overnight. His latest hobbyhorse, balancing the budget, is even less sexy. “I think we’re gonna be Greece,” he says. But it’s hard to make anyone care until we are Greece.
    and not to mention
    As late as 2007, he called Iraq “one of the noblest endeavors the United States, or any great power, has ever undertaken.” He knew the war was profoundly anti-Burkean. But it suited his quest for “national greatness”—a gauzy vision of conservatism he and Kristol had been pushing since 1997. “It was an unfortunate deviation from my core philosophy,” he says.
    This explains a great deal about why we can’t have anything nice.

  3. Wait, whet moser, you still pay attention to that bespectacled fellow who translates Glenn Beck into something that almost sounds sane for the Newshour on Friday nights?

  4. M’self, I think there’s a clear move afoot to bring disaster capitalism to the developed countries, since raping the Third World has pretty much cleaned them out. Or, maybe it’s an inevitable end result of the financialization of the economy.
    Deflation scares the piss out of manufacturers, so, if your economy mostly runs on banking and jerking off the wealthy, well, deflation is great. The value of money goes up, asset prices go down, and there are lots of attractive assets at bargain-basement prices that will become highly profitable when the powers that be decide to get the economy going again.
    It was banker and Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon who said: “It is during depressions that assets return to their rightful owners.”
    And we all know who he meant by “rightful owners.”

  5. Let’s be rational about this. Our goal is to shovel money as fast as possible into the bank accounts of the top 1% richest folks in this country, right? Well, you don’t to that by paying small contractors, or even big contractors to build roads and bridges. You can’t even do that by paying wonks to develop energy efficient means of generating electricity, nor fuel efficient automobiles. The way you do that is to aid people who run the casino called Wall Street, feed the armaments industry lavishly and keep as many wars going as possible, reduce taxes on that group’s income, reduce any government spending that takes money potentially available to them, etc.
    That’s the program today, so let’s get with it. After all it is only your fault if you fail to be in the top 1% – you just don’t worship the right God.

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