Monday, June 23, 2014

Instead of a New Deal, a 192% increase in sewage rates

(The WPA built this sewage plant in Thurmont, Maryland, in 1941. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

In the small town of New Creek, West Virginia, residents will see a 192% sewage rate increase--to pay for a new treatment plant (see "PSC rules: 192 percent sewer hike for New Creek"). This type of thing is happening all across the country. Middle- and lower-income Americans are being asked to pay higher taxes, tolls, fees, and fines--usually at the state & local level--to subsidize the tax evasion and tax avoidance practiced by many corporations and super-wealthy Americans.

During the New Deal, federally-paid WPA workers built or improved over 4,000 utility plants and installed over 24,000 miles of storm and sanitary sewer lines. We could do the same today, if so many of our political "leaders" were not owned by their super-wealthy campaign contributors, many of whom, no doubt, profit from tax evasion and tax avoidance. We could raise taxes on the super-wealthy, we could take a more aggressive approach to illegal tax evasion by Americans using foreign bank accounts, we could stop corporations from ransoming us with their offshore-held profits, and so on. Unfortunately, it's easier to slam the little guy than it is to irritate your political sugar daddies with higher tax rates.

Hence, as billionaires keep adding billions to their fortunes, the middle-class and poor are forced to pay higher bridge tolls, higher fuel taxes, higher sales taxes, higher sewage rates, etc. To add insult to injury, the "job creators" (i.e., the people we shelter from higher tax rates) are not creating many jobs, other than some crappy low-wage, no-future jobs.

We could have a new, and even stronger New Deal. We could have a federally-funded WPA to modernize and improve our utility services. Instead, we're getting wallet-draining plutocracy. So, the question is this: Is it worth paying higher taxes, tolls, fees, and fines to support trickle-down economics and white collar crime? For now, we've answered "yes." Hopefully, in the not-too-distant-future, we'll answer "no."   

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