Saturday, February 11, 2017

Drinking lead to please billionaires: The week in review

Above: A waterworks project in Torrance, California, ca. 1933-1943, funded by the New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA). New Deal policymakers facilitated tens of thousands of waterworks projects across the United States through their various work programs. Why? Because, unlike many of our policymakers today, they felt that clean & reliable drinking water was more important than giving tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

As is always the case in America, it was an eventful week for drinking lead (especially for children)...

Monday, February 6, 2017:


New Jersey: "Maud Abrams [Elementary] School was found to have lead levels higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard [of 15 parts per billion]... test results ranged from one faucet that recorded 16.9 parts per billion... to another outdoor faucet that recorded 470 parts per billion." Cape May County Herald.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017:

Pittsburgh: "Of the 3,057 homes that were tested [in Pittsburgh communities], 43.4 percent had some level of detectable lead; 11.3 percent had levels over the EPA’s 15 ppb action limit; 70 of those came in at 30 ppb or above. The 15 ppb limit is not a threshold for public health and no amount of lead is safe for human consumption." NEXT Pittsburgh.

Butler, Pennsylvania: "The Butler Area School District put Summit Elementary School students at serious risk by concealing for months that its water supply contained dangerous amounts of lead, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday." Tribune-Review.

Arizona: "Water at Killip Elementary School in Flagstaff tests above lead threshold," Arizona Daily Sun.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017:

California: "Drinking water shut off at San Ysidro schools due to high lead, copper, bacteria," ABC 10 News.

New York: "Water lead levels in Bronx school 'higher than Flint, Michigan'," RT.

Thursday, February 9, 2017:


Wisconsin: A Republican state senator has introduced legislation that will put the financial burden of replacing lead-contaminated water pipes on the middle-class & poor (Water Online). This is typical of Republican policymakers. Instead of taxing the super-wealthy more, they push for regressive revenue systems, e.g., higher utility rates and higher sales taxes (see my recent blog post, "Right-wing economics meets infrastructure. Result: Crumbling roads & bridges, as well as higher costs for the middle-class & poor").

Friday, February 10, 2017:

New Jersey: "Lead level over 6 times limit found in Camden County school water" (NJ.com).

Milwaukee: This Wisconsin city has instituted a plan to force homeowners to shoulder the cost of replacing lead water lines and, if they're too poor to do so, they may be fined. "The owners pay a maximum of $1600, and can spread those payments over 10 years, on their property tax bills... The new city ordinance contains a fine for unresponsive homeowners..." (Milwaukee Public Radio). Once again, we see the punishment the middle-class & poor must endure, after decades of tax-breaks-for-the-rich and trickle-down economics has left our infrastructure in tatters. But billionaires? Oh, they're having a good laugh over all this, especially since they're enjoying record wealth. And the fact that 160 million Americans don't have enough money to "treat a broken arm" (Business Insider), doesn't faze them a bit. In fact, it makes them laugh even harder: "Make the little people pay for it anyway" they giggle to their political marionettes in legislatures across the nation.

*****

Given that millions of children are drinking lead-contaminated water, we really needed another New Deal. But instead of rallying around Bernie Sanders, who has been pushing for more infrastructure spending for years now, Americans elected even more Republicans into high political office. These Republicans are far more interested in tax-breaks-for-the-wealthy than they are in modernizing our roads, bridges, public schools, airports, and water lines.

When it comes to infrastructure, Americans seem to be lost - fumbling around in the dark, unaware of what worked in the past, unaware of how they're being nickel-and-dimed to subsidize tax-breaks-for-the-rich, and deathly afraid to irritate the holy "JOB CREATORS." 

And our children are paying the price for all this foolishness - in some cases, with permanent brain damage (lead is a neurotoxin).

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