Sunday, April 23, 2017

Preschoolers in New York City have been drinking lead for the rich

Above: A New Deal-financed waterworks project in New York City, ca. 1933-1939. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

As Donald Trump's Ayn Rand-administration is trying to figure out the best way to cut infrastructure spending, kick poor people off Medicaid, give tax breaks to the wealthy, and increase the number of military adventures across the globe, preschool children in New York City (and across the rest of the United States too) have been drinking lead, a neurotoxin that causes permanent brain damage (see, e.g., "City pre-K programs also have high lead count in drinking water," New York Post, April 19, 2017).

Meanwhile, super-wealthy Americans are laughing at us, enjoying record wealth, and drooling over the tax breaks they're sure to receive from their Republicans in Congress. Worse, they have millions of Americans dancing around like marionettes, crying out "We can't afford it!!" whenever a solution to a domestic problem is mentioned. And many of the marionettes also cry out in adoration: "Job creators! We love you!!" At their swanky parties, the millionaires & billionaires must be giggling: "Good Lord, we send their jobs overseas, use our cash to turn their government against them, attack every social program that helps them... and still they worship us!"

Things were different during the New Deal. Franklin Roosevelt and his fellow policymakers created many work and construction programs that modernized America infrastructure. For example, WPA workers in New York state installed 1,200 miles of new water lines, 1,600 miles of sewers, and built or improved 266 utility plants (Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, 1946, p. 136). Why? Well, among other reasons, they believed that clean drinking water, and the efficient removal of wastewater, was important to the nation's health, especially for children.

We could do the same thing today with the nation's lead problem--replacing water mains, connection lines, and old plumbing--if we had the will, and if we had a good understanding of American history. 

Unfortunately, and to the contrary, America has embraced an Ayn Rand-fueled system of economics (trickle-down economics) that has "helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world" (Bruce Levine, "How Ayn Rand Helped Turn the U.S. Into a Selfish, Greedy Nation," Alternet, December 10, 2014). This embrace of selfishness has been disastrous for America's children, as evidenced by rampant child poverty, high infant mortality rates, and the routine delivery of contaminated drinking water to their developing bodies.

Hopefully, someday in the not-too-distant future, Americans will turn away from the malevolent rule of millionaires and billionaires, and once again work towards a government that is truly for the people. The health of the nation's children depends on it.

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