Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving ruined by another water main break. A WPA could have saved the holiday.

(WPA workers built the foundation for this PWA-built water tank in Buffalo, New York, and also installed the water lines running from it, 1936-1937. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.)

A 70-year-old water main broke on Thanksgiving morning, in Cranford, New Jersey, shutting down water service, flooding homes, closing roads, and causing evacuations for fear of a gas line rupture. The break was just one of a quarter-of-a-million water main breaks that occur in the United States, every single year.

Is our Republican-led Congress concerned about the nation's crumbling infrastructure? Nope. Are the Republican presidential candidates concerned? Nope. Even though thousands of Americans die each year from deteriorating infrastructure, Congress is more focused on middle-eastern affairs, and the Republican presidential candidates are more focused on stirring up fear and anger about immigrants, Muslims, and minorities.

During the New Deal, things were different. Policymakers offered the unemployed jobs, the unemployed responded, and the nation's infrastructure was modernized on a scale not seen before or since. For example, the WPA installed 16,000 miles of new water lines, worked on 124,000 bridge projects, and built or improved 650,000 miles of roadway - enough roadwork to go around the planet 26 times. Maybe that's why Ronald Reagan wrote in his autobiography, "The WPA was one of the most productive elements of FDR's alphabet soup of agencies because it put people to work building roads, bridges, and other projects...it gave men and women a chance to make some money along with the satisfaction of knowing they earned it."

Today, everything is cynical. Infrastructure is ignored, the unemployed are insulted, and God forbid we should raise taxes on the holy "JOB CREATORS" (even though the "job creators" are adding tens of billions of dollars to their personal fortunes, thereby causing the middle-class to shrink in every state). 
 
And so, a water main break is coming to a pipe near you. Get ready to bail out your basement and boil your water.

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