Wednesday, January 20, 2016

State of emergency declared in New York towns of Halfmoon and Waterford, after a 100-year-old pipe breaks

(WPA workers digging a trench for a water main in Cumberland, Maryland, 1937. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)
As Michigan is dealing with its lead-poisoning scandal (children in Flint, Michigan were poisoned due to neglected infrastructure, polluted water, and austerity), the New York towns of Halfmoon and Waterford (Saratoga County) are dealing with a dire situation of their own.

An old water main, installed around 1916, broke and caused massive water pressure loss in the two towns, prompting a "state of emergency" declaration. Some residents have no water service, several schools are closed, streets are shut down, citizens are being advised to boil their water before using it, and fire-fighting has been put at risk ("Water shortage in Waterford, Halfmoon a 'difficult situation,'" The Daily Gazette, January 20, 2016).

This break is just one of the quarter-of-a-million breaks that Americans experience, every single year.

But nothing will motivate our policymakers to invest more in American infrastructure - nothing. Not a quarter-of-a-million water main breaks, not two trillion gallons of water wasted every year, and not poisoned children. I am firmly convinced that we could have 500 million water main breaks every year, and have every child in America (not including the children of the super-wealthy, who can afford to have clean water trucked into their private compounds) poisoned by lead or bacteria, and our policymakers--who are predominately right-wing now--would still be trying to give more tax breaks to the rich, and still be promoting illegal tax evasion, instead of focusing on infrastructure. 

President Roosevelt and his New Deal colleagues knew better. They taxed the rich more and they built up our infrastructure with programs like the PWA, WPA, and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. In New York, WPA workers installed over 1,200 miles of new water lines. We could do the same today - but we won't. Instead, we'll keep voting for Republicans, Tea Partiers, and Democrats who take massive amounts of money from Wall Street. Isn't that amazing?

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