Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Drinking lead for the rich in California

Above: The description for this photograph, ca. 1933-40, 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.

It was recently reported that rural Californians are at risk of drinking lead-contaminated water. The problem stems from the fact that smaller utility companies don't have the resources for thorough testing; and also from the fact that a lot of older California homes are leeching lead from their in-house plumbing. One water utility official said: "We have no control over what people do in their own homes. We can't tell people they have to replace their own pipes." No, but you can advise them to. But perhaps that wouldn't make much of a difference anyway, since trickle-down economics has created a situation where "63% Of Americans Don't Have Enough Savings To Cover A $500 Emergency" (Forbes, January 6, 2016), let alone a major plumbing upgrade.

Indeed, all of the problems related to lead-contaminated water in rural California are the result of a lack of resources and a lack of manpower. For example, it appears that the state of California doesn't have the resources or manpower to monitor and test all rural water systems. One state official said: "It would take an army of staff just to do it."

Rural California is not unique in its drinking water contamination. Americans are drinking lead all across the country. 

Hmmm.... what to do, what to do....  

Hey, I have an idea! Let's create a new WPA (i.e., "an army of staff") to test California drinking water systems for contamination, and also to replace old water pipes & plumbing! Isn't that a great idea? After all, during the 1930s and 40s, New Deal work & construction programs engaged in many hundreds of waterworks projects in California, and many thousands of waterworks projects across the nation! Heck, even Ronald Reagan loved the WPA! So, even conservatives will be on board, right?

Oh wait... no... wait a minute... I forgot about something: the rich don't like the idea of paying more taxes for infrastructure; and they've paid politicians to make sure that doesn't happen. And they've also brainwashed conservative voters--via Fox News and right-wing talk-radio--into thinking that anything the government does is godless communism. 

Oh well... never mind about that new WPA idea... let's just continue drinking lead for the rich instead. Yes, drinking neurotoxins for the rich will show that we're true blue patriots of capitalism, and not naughty socialists. Poison yourself to prove your patriotism! Drink that foul water and breathe that noxious air for your Captains of Industry!


  1. When I lived in Oakland CA a few years back, one of those frequent water main breaks happened near our office. After the utility company arrived, one of the workers informed me that the pipes were 70+ years old, which is standard in the city. If you head over to the west end of the city, you can see the empty shell of a former pipe manufacturer. You have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

    1. Yep, broken water mains, children drinking lead, exported jobs, closed-up U.S. manufacturers, politicians twiddling their thumbs and looking away (while donor money pours into their campaign coffers)... just endless signs of a culture that's lost its way.