Wednesday, October 5, 2016

An 83-year-old water main broke in Berkeley, California. A New Deal could have prevented that.

Above: The description for this photograph (ca. 1933-1939) reads, "Tractors and heavily loaded graders level off an area to be used in the San Francisco, California waterworks system." This project was funded by the New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Yesterday, an 83-year-old water main broke in Berkeley, California. The break caused traffic problems and water service disruptions (see, e.g., "Water main breaks in Downtown Berkeley, closing several city blocks," The Daily Californian, October 4, 2016). 

240,000 water main breaks occur in the United States, every single year - many of them due to old age. We could replace these old lines by creating a new WPA. During the New Deal era, WPA workers installed 1,200 miles of new water lines in California. The Civil Works Administration (CWA) and Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) installed new water lines too; and the Public Works Administration (PWA) funded dozens of large waterworks projects across the state. Californians are still utilizing many of these New Deal projects today, well past their intended lifespan.

Unfortunately, we're not going to have another New Deal, or another WPA. Republicans and neoliberals are much too busy babbling on about "job creators," "innovators," and "entrepreneurs," to be overly concerned about the deteriorating water lines that are poisoning our children with lead and closing our schools & small businesses. And, as long as our political "leaders" keep pampering the super-wealthy, in the hope of securing more campaign contributions, our infrastructure will continue to crumble. That means America's children will continue drinking lead and other toxins, while the rich enjoy tax breaks, tax loopholes, tax exemptions, tax deductions, tax avoidance, and tax evasion.

Above: Here is some money that could have been used to replace our poisoned water lines and protect the health of our children. Instead, this money was used to buy private jets, private compounds, private islands, and, of course, politicians. Image courtesy of Demos.org.

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