We are broken.  I figured it out, even before reading Bob Herbert’s column today.  Regardless of the storm that is breaking the backs of state and local governments across the country, California is cutting social programs and salaries in an attempt to stay alive.

Mr. Schwarzenegger has proposed eliminating the state’s $1 billion welfare program for families with children, ending a $126 million health insurance program for children, reducing the state’s Medicaid eligibility to the minimum to save over $500 million, and ending the state’s network of subsidized home health care providers for the poor. They don’t vote for Republicans anyway.

In the wake of the arctic cold wave and the snow it brought, state, city, and county budgets are crumbling.

In Iowa, Des Moines’s $3 million snow removal budget is supposed to last the winter, but with the snowstorm that hit Thursday, the city has already used the entire budget. “We will have exhausted it by the end of this event,” Bill Stowe, the director of public works, said Friday. “Yesterday, we had six additional inches and 30-mile-per-hour winds. We’re done.”

In economic news, another 85,000 people lost their jobs in the last 30 days.  Another 85,000 people will be looking for food stamps, housing assistance, relief from high utility bills or face the loss of heat, power, and water in what looks to be one of the most brutal winters on record.  This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of people already out of work.

We need to stop banks from foreclosing on people and making more homeless.  The banks have already been paid for those bad loans.  We need to start building our own manufacturing plants in THIS country.  If Toyota can make cars here then we should be able to do it too.  The only things we make in this country, on any large scale, are weapons.  That has to stop.  We need to make things that improve life, not things that take it.  We need old fashion public works projects and we need obstructionist Republicans to stop fighting the government because a black democrat is running it.  We need to start bringing our boys home from whatever war effort they are involved in, we cannot afford a million dollars a year per soldier to keep them over there any longer.

Instead we need to invest in our roads, our schools, and our public health.  We need to do it yesterday, but any time soon will work.  If we don’t, there will be nothing left for our military to save, as if they were saving whatever it is in the first place!