Monday, January 28, 2019

Repairs to water main breaks are resembling archaeological digs

Above: These workers are installing new water mains in La Porte, Indiana, ca. 1935-1940, with funds provided by the New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA). During the New Deal, there were large investments in water purification systems, water towers, water mains, and consumer connection lines. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Lost in all the Trump madness of the past two years is the fact that America's infrastructure is still falling apart. Old water mains are bursting left and right. On January 4th, a 40-foot geyser sprung from a 100-year-old pipe in New Orleans. On January 18th, a water main installed 136 years ago, when Chester Arthur was president, broke in Madison, Wisconsin, causing traffic problems. On January 23rd, customers lost water service after three water main breaks occurred, all on pipes that are 90+ years-old.

And these are just a few of the quarter-of-a-million water main breaks that will occur in the United States this year. Further, as if traffic problems, road damage, flooded homes, and loss of water service were not bad enough, we also know that our old waterworks & plumbing are responsible for children drinking lead, as well as an annual loss of 2 trillion gallons of water.

But there's no national urgency to modernize our infrastructure, is there? There are local efforts of course, but these amount to band-aid solutions. Only the financial might of the federal government can solve this problem. Unfortunately, our federal government consists of too many political puppets for the rich. And so, instead of appropriate funding for public works, our right-wing legislators & presidents (Reagan, Bush, Trump) have handed out numerous tax cuts for the super-wealthy - tax cuts that have helped the rich achieve record-breaking and mostly self-serving fortunes. Instead of improving the common good, or facilitating better wages for workers, right-wing & neoliberal politicians have helped the uber-rich engage in a record amount of stock buybacks... and given them more money to develop their escape plans, in the event that their greed finally destroys the United States (see, e.g., "The super rich of Silicon Valley have a doomsday escape plan," MSN and Bloomberg, September 8, 2018).

When will the American people stop being suckers for the rich? When will they demand more investment in the common good, for the sake of their children? Well, if the election of born-into-wealth, spoiled brat Donald Trump is any indicator... not any time soon.

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