Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Drinking lead for the rich in Connecticut
Above: "The Water Tower," a drypoint on paper, created by Lawrence Kupferman (1909-1982) while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1937. Water infrastructure was very important to New Deal policymakers. They made heavy investments in water towers, water lines, reservoirs, treatment plants, pumping stations, consumer connections, and more. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
This morning, it was reported that three Connecticut schools have too much lead in their drinking water. And, "Since 2011, 20 Connecticut schools were found to have lead-contaminated water. The number could be higher, but some parents may never know because only the 170 out of 1,100 Connecticut schools that use independent water systems are required by the state to check" ("More Lead Found in Connecticut School Drinking Water," NBC CT, September 28, 2016).
The EPA sets its safe lead limit at 15 ppb (one of the Connecticut schools tested at 53 ppb); but the CDC has warned that no amount of lead is safe for children to ingest. Yet, we're letting our children drink lead all across the country (see my recent blog post here).
Any rational culture would have, by now, begun a massive program to replace its aging, poisonous drinking water infrastructure - and paid for it by asking the most obscenely wealthy people to pay more. After all, if the super-wealthy can afford to buy private jets, private compounds, and private islands - and can also afford to spend millions buying politicians, surely they can help pay for infrastructure repairs & improvements.
So, why haven't we started such a program? Answer: Because Americans are addicted to trickle-down economics, and addicted to worshiping and pampering the wealthy. Yes, even after all the multi-billion dollar frauds committed against us by the super-wealthy, a lot of Americans still want to pamper them with another round of tax cuts. They want to eliminate the estate tax, so people born into wealth will never have to work (and are able buy politicians with their inherited money); they want to lower the top marginal tax rate, even though it's already historically low; and they want to surrender to extortion, by lowering the corporate tax rate to (supposedly) "bring the money home" from foreign, and often shady tax havens.
Interestingly, in 2014, Republican strategist Matthew Dowd said: "we need to have a well-paying jobs program tied to infrastructure improvements administered locally by cities, counties and states where people still trust government to get the job done. And this should be funded by tax policies at the federal level which put a much bigger burden on the wealthy in this country. The federal government would merely be a collector of the money, then disburse it to more trustworthy entities, and the money would be managed and spent at the local level."
Makes sense. For example, during the New Deal, the WPA gave federal money to cities and towns in Connecticut to create 33 new or improved utility plants and to install over 300 miles of new water & sewer lines. Across the nation, WPA workers installed 16,000 miles of new water lines.
We could do the same today (and more), if we just pushed aside our bottle of trickle-down economics and sobered up. But, as long as we keep allowing Republicans, Tea Partiers, and neoliberals to hold high political office, well, our children will continue drinking lead for the rich.
Also see, "Top GOP Senator Blames His Own Party for Lack of Highway Funding," Huffington Post, May 19, 2015; "$478B Infrastructure Bill Blocked By Senate GOP," The Fiscal Times, March 25, 2015; and "This Tea Party senator is single-handedly holding up federal relief funds for Flint," Salon, March 3, 2016.