I Heard America Talking

Five years ago I drove from Salt Lake City, Utah to New Jersey because a snow storm in the Northeast had closed the airports.

I wonder, What do those American voices say, today?


Driving from Salt Lake City to Newark, New Jersey, I heard America talking on the late night radio. As I hurried across the Great Divide, the voices from New Mexico and Washington gave rise to growing concerns about our national economy, but soon they began to fade.

Rolling down across the high desert to Laramie and Cheyenne, I heard the voices rise, again.  Carried by the towers in West Texas, Iowa, and Minnesota and Detroit, I listened as America voiced its fury at the great corporate criminal conspiracy.  Never had so few stolen so much from so many people.

Then, with Dawn’s Rose-Tipped Fingers Spread against the sky, I listened to the pressing question: Why?

Like a straight razor’s edge that ran across Nebraska: Was it Wall Street’s failure or the slumbering of a regulator?


Council Bluffs, Iowa

Council Bluffs sent us weaving round the ancient earthworks in the bright early morning. 

Then we found the cause of our misery was here on Main Street, USA.  At an exit, we heard Main Street was awakening from the dream that owning a home meant never having to work, again.  Americans had sold their future, and their childrens’ future, for the price appreciation of dot.com stocks and the second mortgages on their homes.

The voices rose ever higher and we pushed the pedal into Illinois looking for an answer. 

Homeland of our President.  Home of the Mighty Blackhawk nation. Hoping to find a bright future. Only to drive past a failed Ethanol energy facility — with  long lines of black train cars waiting with their golden grain fuel.    Here we learn of a tea-party that is planned for the summer months on the Lake Michigan Midway.

I hear America asking for forgiveness on credit card loans.  Like an angry mob that doesn’t know why it wants to fight, but it is still afraid to die.

At Noon on the Eisenhower Expressway, I felt the sun beating down on sleepless eyes and I listened to the pressing question: Why?

Following a privatized American highway — I wondered about the public trust.  Do the tongues that have sworn the oaths to protect and serve ever give pause to wonder about what I heard?

This land is your land. This land called Indiana.  Home of the Hoosier and barn burners and the family farm. Strong and steady as the shadows stretch from the fading western sun.

Into the night as the engine runs. Looking for the return of the public’s capital, we find O-H-I-O. We drive along the shore of the Great Lake: Erie.  I hear America wanting to work. Here in the night we pass its great inland seaports of Toledo and Sandusky and Cleveland that have served to forge our industrial heartland. I hear America workers in Youngstown and Columbus wanting to build, again.

The Pennsylvania thruway runs up and down through the Mountains.   Truckers race down the bottom of the hills and then ride slowly, up the grade, and finally to the other side.

Again, I hear America calling with angry words.  The reasons are lost.  Banks weren’t the problem in the Great Depression — over-capacity was the reason for the boom/bust.    It took a great world war to destroy the over-capacity and return U.S. factories to full utilization.

Finally, we cross the Delaware Water Gap.  On to New Jersey. Speak to me during these troubled times of my America.

I hear America calling for us to build it better.  Better with bonds.  Leverage the public’s capital to make repairs with thoughtful borrowing over the lifetime of the roads and bridges and ports — while retiring the consumer debt that has driven Americans to despair.



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