by Steven Neill
November 4, 2012
Completed in 1893 and considered a monumental achievement of railroad engineering, the Great Northern rail line ran across the steep grades of the Cascade mountain range through Stevens Pass. Even armed with 6 enormous locomotive rotary snow plows, the railway workers found this stretch of rail line almost impossible to keep open during the winter. The ferocious storms of February, 1910 had even the most seasoned railway workers stunned at the amount of snow that was pummeling the mountains. On the 23rd though, there seemed to be enough of a lull in the storm for two trains to make it over the pass. Unfortunately for all those involved, the lull was to be very short lived and they were driving into the teeth of a monster storm dumping over a foot of snow an hour.
Slowly pushing through enormous mounds of blowing snow, the 2 trains barely made it over the summit by the evening of the 24th where they were stopped just past the rail town of Wellington, Washington. At this point, the full fury of the storm was unleashed and no amount of shoveling or work by the plows was going to allow them to move forward. They could not have been in a more hazardous spot on the tracks as clear cut logging and forest fires had opened the area above the train creating an unrestricted run above them. For three days the stranded passengers watched uneasily as the snow piled up ominously on the heights above them.
By the 27th, the unmistakable rumblings of avalanches were a constant reminder of the ever increasing mountain of snow poised above their snowbound train. One of those avalanches crushed 2 men in a small cabin nearby. The passengers and railroad workers asked Superintendent James O’Neill to back the train into the Cascade tunnel for protection but he refused to do so, insisting it was too dangerous. The tension in the passengers and railroad workers became so tangible that some men decided to brave the weather to escape to the town of Scenic, some 8 miles away. Risking the brutal snowstorm, they climbed over snow mounds that sometimes reached 50’ as they left behind their temporary prison. The trek was dangerous but after a few hours, they made it to the town of Scenic. Three more groups followed and survived. But for those who stayed behind, their fates were sealed.
The afternoon of the 28th saw the blizzard transformed into an electrical storm with brilliant flashes of lightening, deafening claps of thunder and sheets of rain. The already enormous weight of snow above the trains began increased by the minute.
On March 1st, at 1:42 a.m. Charles Andrews, a Great Northern employee was walking toward one of the bunkhouses when he heard a loud rumble. Many years later he would describe what he saw:
"White Death moving down the mountainside above the trains. Relentlessly it advanced, exploding, roaring, rumbling, grinding, snapping -- a crescendo of sound that might have been the crashing of ten thousand freight trains. It descended to the ledge where the side tracks lay, picked up cars and equipment as though they were so many snow-draped toys, and swallowing them up, disappeared like a white, broad monster into the ravine below."
On board the train were 119 people. One of the few survivors, only 23 in all, described his experience just three days after the disaster:
An electric storm was "raging at the time of the avalanche. Lightning flashes were vivid and a tearing wind was howling down the canyon. Suddenly there was a dull roar, and the sleeping men and women felt the passenger coaches lifted and borne along. When the coaches reached the steep declivity they were rolled nearly 1,000 feet and buried under 40 feet of snow." (Editor, 2010)
Two sides of the same coin
The Wellington Train Disaster is one of the most horrific rail disasters in American history and should be an example of why independent thoughts followed by actions can save your life. Unfortunately, we face as great of a threat looming over us in the form of our national debt and the governments’ addiction to spending money. Since the 2012 election is almost upon us, let’s compare the budget proposals between the two leading candidates for President and see if either actually moves to reduce this spending:
Obama presents a budget that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, increases debt as a proportion of gross domestic product until 2018. President Obama’s budget would take in 6 percent less in revenues than it currently does over the next 10 years and pushes debt up to 76 percent of GDP, which is almost 30 percent higher than before the economy crashed in 2008. Obviously, Obama’s plan substantially increases our national debt.
But does the proposed Romney budget do much better in reducing the deficit spending?
Since it is unknown whether Romney will adopt Ryan’s vague 2013 Path to Prosperity budget resolution or Mitt Romney’s even vaguer set of budget-like campaign ideas, it’s hard to put it to much scrutiny. Both plans claim will balance out the reduction of corporate and personal tax rates by 20% by closing tax loopholes and eliminating tax deductions. Ryan’s plan calls for the elimination of deductions for alternative-energy companies which is the only specific tax deduction named in either plan. One reason for this vagueness may be that, according to the “Congressional Research Service” deductions “are broadly used by the public and quite popular.” Details are expensive. Provide them, and you will lose votes and donors. Explicitly rule them out, and you will have to spend more money.” (Greeley, 2012) The CBO looked through, agency by agency, and scored Ryan’s plan as raising public debt to 70 percent by 2022.
In the third Presidential debate, Romney reiterated his plan to have a 20 percent across the board tax cut while balancing the budget within eight to ten years. In response, Harvard economist Larry Summers, a former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that Romney's budget plan is "alchemy."
"Lead cannot be turned into gold. Two plus two cannot equal five," Summers told HuffPost. "And 20 percent across-the-board tax cuts cannot be squared with balanced budgets without raising middle-class taxes or eviscerating government."
Then there is the additional campaign promise to increase military spending by $2trillion over the next decade, again, without raising taxes. When $200billion a year is added to an already impossible budget, it’s more than alchemy at work; it’s time to crank FED, the Magic Printing Press, into overdrive.
Turning Big Bird into War Bird
But almost as troubling as the “Alchemy” budget is, the makeup of Romney’s “Military Advisory Council.” This team is made up of former military men who now benefit from the immense corporate welfare that defense contractors receive. From boldprogressives.org:
Retired General James Conway: Conway is a retired four-star general.
Last year, he was named to the Board of Directors of Textron, which
manufactures helicopters, aircraft and other products for the military.
• Retired Navy Admiral James B. Busey: Busey served in the Navy until 1989. After leaving the federal government in 1992, he joined the Board of Directors of defense contractor Curtiss-Wright and left in 2008.
• Retired former commander of United States Strategic Command James O. Ellis: After serving his country, Ellis decided to make a fortune by working for the defense industry. He serves in the leadership of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and also has a board position at Lockheed Martin.
• Retired Air Force General Ronald Fogleman: Fogleman serves on the boards of Alliant Techsystems, AAR Corporation, Mesa Air Group, Inc., and World Air Holdings.
• Retired General Tommy Franks: Franks, who led the disastrous invasion of Iraq, has his own consultancy called Franks & Associates LLC that specializes in “disaster recovery.” He also works for a private firm that pitches itself as able to respond to a viral pandemic.
• Retired Air Force Commander William R. Looney III: Looney actually campaigns on behalf of for-profit colleges that are under fire for abusing military veterans. Those colleges actually are a huge beneficiary of dollars from the Veterans Administration, and thus represent an often under-looked form of defense contractor welfare.
• Retired Navy Admiral Henry Mauz: Mauz is on the Advisory Council of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems.
• Retired Navy Vice Admiral Mike Bucchi: Bucchi was named president of homeland security contractor Ocean Systems Engineering Corporation in 2005.
The Obama Administration also includes at least 50 (former) corporate lobbyists. (Glaser, 2012)
The More Things Change, the More Things Stay the Same
When pushing through the smoke and mirrors, one is confronted with a very harsh reality; neither candidate has any intention of dealing with the most crucial issue of our time, the national debt.
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Once again, the choice boils down to which group of cronies pick the public wallet clean. Only this time there will not be a way to kick the can further down the road. Our economy has been stopped by an unmovable mound of debt and there is a mass of insane spending looming over it ready to crush those unprepared. That means it is time for you to make some hard decisions. You can listen to the people in the main stream media plus political leadership and stay on the train. Or, you can leave what you think is safety and take the difficult road out of this trap. Get out of debt, become more self-sufficient, have extra supplies of food and water on hand. Look into ways to preserve your wealth and most of all, get your spiritual life in order. We are headed into a blizzard unlike any we’ve seen and you won’t make it alone.
© 2012 - Steven Neill - All Rights Reserve