So many – especially on the right side of the U.S. political spectrum reference our Founders in an effort to justify this or that action … Even the legal, including a few Supreme Court Justices, experts call themselves “originalists” as they believe they know our amazing Founders original intent in totality. This essay is not about that in the broadest sense but I am convinced that which is very clear in the Founders writings and our U.S. Constitution applies to all aspects of American life … Protect and defend. Simple surely you agree and I believe is the major and primary promise the Founders wanted for this great nation and for ALL Americans.
Think of the Constitution as a contract and one where the Founders wanting to differentiate this nation from those past would guarantee ALL no matter status equal protection from harm. Not only from the foreign or other but within – the ability to live safely and thrive. As time went on more and more legislation and structure was created to assure each citizen could consider life without needing to attend personally to every task in order to exist without fear. We developed health oversights, employment safety rules, product standards and such. Well guess what – for the last thirty or so years we the people by ignoring and politicians by persuasion of special interest and inappropriate/misguided posturing about what our national budget can afford have slowly but steadily eviscerated these much needed controls on those things which basically are a matter of life and death … The contract is broken my dear readers.
This past week #Amtrak188 derailed killing eight and severely injuring others in Philadelphia while traveling the most important national corridor for business, politics, etc between New York and Washington D.C.. The “contract” between the passengers and Amtrak and our government was a matter of safety and oversight – including funding. According to the National Transport Safety Board this accident no matter cause would have been prevented by a Train Control System which although mandated by Congress Amtrak has asked to not install until 2020 and Congress itself the same week as Amtrak 188 incident further cut funding for our national infrastructure budget. What is at play here? Business concerns … Finance, ethics, even morality? Remember all sorts of people travel by train …. Is this the new great American equalizer in that our Unites States infrastructure is so dilapidated and neglected that no matter your income or ability all are indeed equally exposed to danger on railroads, bridges, highways, etc.? Obviously I believe the answer is a unequivocal YES and therefore my fellow Americans we all should pay very close attention to what our elected representatives are doing and likewise our citizen corporations. This is NOT a we versus them or one of my all time [NOT] favorites “those people” that the middle types seem so fond of using in a pejorative fashion. No but instead this is a “US” my friends because remember we ALL use trains, planes and automobiles … we ALL consume food and water – so to conclude and one of my favorite law school classes taught the Founders REALLY thought “contracts” in our great unique nation were paramount to a healthy and vital democracy!
Note: To the families and friends of those who died in Amtrak 188 crash my deepest and sincere condolences. To those injured my prayers for a full and speedy recovery. To our wonderful Philadelphia Mayor Nutter – as always Sir job well done and to the Philadelphia Police, Fireman, EMTs – may G-d bless you for your heroic work.