William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 9:51 P.M. ET:

I'M SHOCKED, SHOCKED AT THIS – When Obama visited the victims of Hurricane Sandy, right before the election, he promised there'd be no red tape from FEMA in getting them aid.  The press joyously contrasted the heroic, dynamic, brilliant, godlike, performance of Obama in Sandy with the performance of BUSH (!!!!) in Katrina.  That was then, this is now.  Victims are bitterly complaining that FEMA has done an awful job, and that red tape is the rule, not the exception.  A town meeting with FEMA officials became boisterous.  Of course, the mainstream media has pretty much ignored the situation.  No Bush to bash.  Nothing to see.  The corruption in the press is breathtaking.

ANOTHER SAD NEW YORK STORY – The Stage Delicatessen, a New York institution for 75 years, has closed, the victim of high rentals.  It was the stuff (or stuffing) of legend.  When institutions like this cannot remain open in a city like New York, there is something very, very wrong.  New York is one of the highest out-migration states in the Union, with more people leaving than in almost any other state.  The reasons:  High taxes, ridiculous living costs, heavy-handed government, and an atmosphere unfriendly to small business and entrepreneurs.  Very friendly to public-service unions.  Right now it is Wall Street and its tax payments that are keeping the state afloat.  If Wall Street busts, there'll be a lot of former New Yorkers living near you.

AND WE'RE GETTING POORER NATIONALLY – It is reported that the net worth of Americans has dropped to a 43-year low.  The middle class is shrinking.  Only the wealthiest American have benefited financially during this period, especially the top one percent.  If this trend continues we will face substantial social instability in the country, as we did in the 1930s.  We cannot discount the possibility of major agitation over disparities in wealth.  And major agitation can produce destructive, short-sighted public policies.  There's plenty of blame to go around.  But unless we can get incomes moving again, we face a grim future.

THEY USED TO GO TO THE MOON – Remember when NASA did great things?  Then Obama came along and said that one of NASA's most important missions was Muslim outreach.  Then things started going to hell.  NASA is in the global-warming business and a bunch of other businesses.  Great dreams don't seem to be in its product catalogue.  Now the agency has a dire warning to America.  From London's Daily Mail:  "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration warns that 2012 Mayan apocalypse rumors pose a real-life threat to frightened children and depressive teenagers."  What a week.  It began, as we reported, with some mayor in Serbia warning that a vampire was on the loose.  It ends with NASA getting involved in Mayan apocalypse stories.  And they say that Republicans are anti-science.

November 30,  2012