Thursday, October 29, 2015

A water main installed in 1885 broke in Philadelphia. 4 months later, residents are still struggling. Welcome to the Reverse New Deal.


(In the two-minute video above, we see the results of a 130-year-old water main break in Philadelphia. What's interesting, is that we keep hearing things like, "We're still trying to figure out the cause of the break." But, is it a stretch to conclude that the age of the pipe was the primary factor? After all, it was installed in 1885, 30 years before World War I. YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caYO1ASrWBA.)

Back in June, a 130-year-old water main broke in Philadelphia and damaged dozens of homes and businesses. Four months later, residents are still struggling with the results. It seems that the city doesn't want to compensate the victims for the flood damage, and is even acting rudely towards them.

This is what happens when a nation puts tax-breaks-for-the-rich in front of infrastructure improvements. This is what happens when the rich control the political process. Their desires--more profit, more sports cars, more mansions--are placed above the needs of non-wealthy citizens, e.g., clean & reliable drinking water. Now, you might be thinking, "Well, the rich have to drink water too." True enough, but, unlike most Americans, they can pay for water to be trucked into their gated communities and private compounds. So, who needs water mains when you can pay for your own personal water delivery system?   

It doesn't have to be this way, of course. For example, during the New Deal years, the WPA installed 595 miles of new water mains in Pennsylvania, and 16,000 miles of new water mains across the entire country.

(Do you get this message a lot? I do. My Internet frequently fades in and out. Even after a quarter-century of widespread Internet use, many Americans (like me) can't get affordable & reliable Internet service. Hmmm, maybe another round of tax breaks for the wealthy will make things better?)

Let's face it, America's infrastructure is really bad. It's not just the typical things you think of--roads, bridges, water mains--it's also things like our national parks, which have an $11 billion maintenance backlog, and our Internet Service, which, as I (try to) write this blog post, keeps blinking in an out - as it is prone to do. Our Internet is monopolized by a few large providers and Republican lawmakers have prevented Americans from trying to improve the situation (largely because politicians are receiving campaign cash from the industry). Hence, Americans pay more for the Internet, and receive crappier service, than most developed countries. But that doesn't stop a lot people from continuing to vote for Republicans and continuing to chant, "America number one! America number one!" (Actually, outside of military power, America is number one in very few areas - certainly not in infrastructure, health care, education, level of happiness, vacation time, etc. - and the more we chant "America number one," without using any actual criteria, the worse things will get.)

When will enough be enough? Will Americans ever say, "Stop coddling the wealthy, and fix the damn water mains!"? Probably not. You see, even after years of horrible infrastructure report cards from the American Society of Civil Engineers (a D+ in 2001, a D in 2005, a D in 2009, a D+ in 2013), tens of millions of people keep voting for anti-infrastructure Republicans. And that's why the United States experiences a quarter-of-a-million water main breaks...every single year.

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal.


(Here's a presentation I made about America's infrastructure, with professional narration, historic film, and plenty of photos. It's as relevant today, as when I made it over a year ago. YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snOXQsVipwE.)

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