Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bridgeton, New Jersey lost its water supply. A WPA could have prevented that.

(Image courtesy of www.clker.com.)

This past Monday, October 6, the city of Bridgeton, New Jersey lost its water supply, leaving schools closed and homes without water. "The cause of the water main break was due to extremely old piping, according to the public works director." (See "Bridgeton water main break leaves city with little to no water, officials say")

A new WPA, if created during the height of the Great Recession, could have replaced that old pipe by now--as well as thousands of other old pipes that are contributing to the 657 daily water line breaks across the United States.

Unfortunately, most of our federal policymakers have been too busy these past 6+ years protecting their billionaire sugar daddies from increased taxation, and also thinking up new ways to insult the unemployed (to score some quick political points), to worry about our crumbling infrastructure. And even when infrastructure bills are introduced, they are quickly killed by our conservative "leaders" in Congress (see, e.g., "Senate GOP blocks $60B Obama infrastructure plan"). As a journalist for Time magazine rightly noted, "no matter how much Republicans say they care about infrastructure, they’re not going to accept any infrastructure proposals that come from President Barack Obama."

But for future policymakers, who may (hopefully) harbor less hatred towards their president, and less hatred towards the unemployed, here is some important information:

New Deal policymakers gave millions of unemployed Americans jobs in the WPA. These unemployed Americans modernized our nation's infrastructure on a scale not seen before or since (for example, WPA workers installed 16,000 miles of new water lines). We are still utilizing much of this infrastructure today, in many cases past its intended lifetime. Even limited-government-icon Ronald Reagan praised the work of the WPA in his autobiography.

(A poster highlighting some of the infrastructure work of the WPA. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Today, there are still 3 million long-term unemployed Americans, 23 million Americans who wish they had a full-time job but can't find one, the labor force participation rate is at a 36-year-low (meaning that there are an awful lot of Americans sitting on the sidelines, having abandoned hope that they are welcome in the American workplace), and the American Society of Civil Engineers, in its latest infrastructure report card, gave American infrastructure a letter grade of D+. 

Isn't it time for some new thinking?


  1. Do you subscribe to any other websites about this? I'm struggling to find other reputable sources like yourself

    Industrial water supply

    1. No, but the American Society of Civil Engineers has web pages for, I believe, every state, detailing infrastructure shortcomings: http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/states/

      Thanks for your comment.