I Publius: Our politics sometimes can be crazy

I often hear from conspiracy theorists, regaling me with some of the wackiest ideas ever dreamed up. OK, I have never been satisfied that the American people learned the real truth about the assassinations of JFK or Martin Luther King Jr. but some of these theories are really out there.

Did you know, for example, that the World Trade Center was wired by the government to implode and the planes never hit it or the Pentagon? I interviewed one of the most important exponents of this theory and gave him his say. The problem is that a lot of people saw it happen.

In my mind, the important thing is what our government did after the planes hit. A horrific act of terrorism was perpetrated upon this country by a few foreign nut jobs and the administration used the event to construct their war on terror, a pretext to deprive Americans of their basic rights; engage in torture that is an anathema to our American values; and get us into a stupid, costly war in Iraq that no one wanted and that we’ve paid for dearly with money and blood. If there was any kind of conspiracy, that was it.

When you consider the way in which we have organized our politics and economics, it is extraordinary that we continue to allow incredible greed to call so many of the shots, favoring those that have the most.

We allow millions and millions of Americans to have substandard health care. We allow home foreclosures at an historic rate. We allow small business failures and personal bankruptcies and when some people are in danger of losing everything, we do nothing.

But let the big banks or the car companies fail, and we ask regular Americans who are being screwed to the wall by these very entities to pony up and save them. Some of the most prestigious ratings agencies have named some of the new Chevrolets among the best cars available, but Americans won’t buy them. No one trusts them. No one understands why they couldn’t have been making great cars from the get-go.

We have failure insurance for those at the top of the food chain while the rest of us have to take our chances. To succeed, Barack Obama has to negotiate with these people in order to escape being personally and professionally destroyed. That’s very hard to understand for anybody who expected instantaneous results from the guy.

The CVS drug store in Great Barrington which bought our beloved Bill’s Pharmacy has big plans. They want to build a behemoth drug store with a drive-thru and ATM machines, which would forever alter the basic character of one of the most beautiful towns in America. The Planning Board unanimously rejected the plan that had been submitted to avoid the new town comprehensive planning law.

The way that many of these chain companies with cadres of lawyers succeed is by wearing you down. They will go to any court they have to thwart the will of the community. In this case, the company wants to knock down an existing hotel and pool building.

One hero stood up at the Planning Board meeting and made an impassioned plea to stop the plan. She spoke of the beauty of Great Barrington, referencing its churches and the Searles Castle, and she pleaded with the planners to turn it down. These things have to be done carefully, however, because the lawyers know every trick in the book. They have nothing but time and money and they will use it.

On the other hand, they have another thing coming if they believe this will be an easy one. Their opposition has lawyer and town moderator Bud McCormick on their side, and this is a guy you do not want to mess with. His property abuts the proposed CVS project and he is not a happy camper. He seems to have some compelling legal arguments on his side.

He tells me that he is committed to the fight and he believes the CVS people will lose in the end. I certainly hope he is right. As for me, you had better believe that while I shop at CVS now, I will not be shopping there if this plan goes through.

My bet is that a lot of others will feel the same way. Do the CVS suits even care?

Originally Published in the Berkshire Eagle, 6/6/09

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