I got off of the four lane freeway on Friday. I traveled through the remains and remnants of Iowa's past that somehow survive in the present.
During travel between Cedar Rapids and Mount Pleasant to pick up a friend arriving from the West Coast via cross-continental rail, I drove through Crawfordsville, Iowa. What once had been one of Iowa's one thousand self-sufficient towns is now almost a ghost town.
There are still plenty of people alive and well in Crawfordsville, but the businesses that once served them are mostly dead. There is no grocery store. There is no gas station. There is no Main Street Cafe' to get the morning news with your morning coffee.
What remains are a cluster of comfy, modest homes, a bank branch and a church. Thankfully, there is a post office to maintain a living link with the rest of humanity.
Fortunately, there is an elementary school. Without the peal of laughter from a crew of kids in the schoolyard getting the place ready for fall class, this town would feel eerily ghostly; devoid of human voice" a silent soundstage for a re-run of T.V.'s Twilight Zone.
At one time, Crawfordsville had it all; places to work, cafes' for chatter, the local grocer and barber, a place to gas up the car to get you on down the road. Crawfordsville and a thousand other dying Iowa towns once were self-sufficient centers of human life. You could work, worship, recreate, and purchase everything that you really need every day of your life without going anywhere else. At that point in time, road travel was one of life's pleasures, not an absolute necessity for survival.
Who killed Crawforsdville? The same voracious villains that killed the American Cable Car Company; The Fast Car Culture built a billion dollar bypass around Crawfordsville.
Up through the 1930's no one really needed a car in any major city in America. The efficient and punctual electric cable cars of locally owned and operated transit systems would happily carry you to work, to a movie downtown or to the local merchants that would meet your every need. Life worked, -and with a much lower stress level.
Standard oil, Firestone Tire and a few Wall Street scions incorporated The American Cable Car Company. Their only business activity was to quickly shut the whole system down -and put sustainable American cities on the scrap heap of U.S. History along with thousands of fully functional cable cars that were simply trashed.
Cash for Clunkers is simply one more futile patch of on the fraying cloth of our auto-centric, totally unsustainable oil guzzling economy. In the USA we do not design public infrastructure for people, we design it all for cars. This all costs hundreds of billions, but who cares?" -as long as the currency press at the FED runs 24/7.
After a devastating 5,000 year flood, Cedar Rapids has begged for over a year to finally get a few million when it actually needs 5 billion just to come back to point zero and make a new start. The Feds yawn and move like turtles smoking pot as they take months to shuffle a few dollars to Iowa. But just let Wall Street, The Oil Boys and now this Cash for Clunkers Auto Deal let out even a whimper of pain, and miraculously, a few more Billion are delivered within days.