On Friday, July 17, a wildfire set cars ablaze on Interstate 15 in California. Dry vegetation helped the wildfire spread quickly.
Yesterday, July 18, a water main that was installed before the Civil War broke in Rutland, Vermont, causing traffic problems and threatening water service to area homes. Work crews had difficulty fixing the water main because the valves were so old they couldn't completely shut the water off.
During the New Deal, work programs like the WPA and the CCC built thousands of miles of firebreaks, removed dry and dead vegetation from hundreds of thousands of acres, and installed new water lines all over the nation.
Today, many of our policymakers have a different approach to problems. For example, Republican and Tea Party politicians want to cut federal funding for wildfire response by $1 billion and they want to cut funding for water infrastructure by $479 million. The fact that wildfires are getting worse in many areas, and the fact that there are a quarter of a million water main breaks all over the nation, every single year, means nothing to them. And if they don't get these and other cuts, it may lead to a government shutdown ("13 reasons the government could shut down again this fall," Time, July 15, 2015).
Why do Republicans and Tea Partiers want these cuts? Because they want to give millionaires and billionaires more tax cuts, e.g., eliminating the estate tax (which only affects the wealthiest of the wealthy), and because they want more money for military adventures overseas - the hundreds of billions already wasted in Iraq notwithstanding.
And so this is what happens when (a) you live in a plutocracy, and (b) your nation forgets its history.