For how much longer will America be so stupid as to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars from other countries (principally China and Japan), so as to provide immense and continuing tax breaks for the already obscenely rich -- instead of using that money to create millions of jobs repairing our disintegrating infrastructure?! Millions of Americans have been (and continue to be) laid off their jobs because ever fewer of their fellow Americans have the money to spend that it would take to keep these workers gainfully employed. And yet our political leaders lack the spine and the will to fund the various infrastructure programs that cry out for investment?! How can this stupidity continue? What do our lily-livered members of Congress fear so much that they cannot figure out this obvious solution to our nation's primary economic problem? Could it be that what they fear is a shortage of campaign contributions from the big corporations on which the continuance of their cowardly political career depends? And for that they allow the continuing decimation of America's great middle class?!
How much infrastructure work in America cries out to be done?
Here are a few clues. What follows are fragments of descriptions of US infrastructure disintegration, which appeared in The New York Times last year:
"More than a quarter of the nation's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Leaky pipes lose an estimated seven billion gallons of clean drinking water every day. And aging sewage systems send billions of gallons of untreated wastewater ... into the nation's waterways each year" (Jan. 28, 2009, p.A16). "A significant water line bursts on average every two minutes somewhere in the country" (March 15, p.A1). "75 percent of America's public schools have structural deficiencies and 25 percent have problems with their ventilation systems" (Feb. 20, p.A17). "Even upscale suburban districts are preparing for huge levels of layoffs" (May 20, p.A1). "Kansas City [Mo.] Will Shutter Nearly Half of Its Schools" (March 11, p.A20). "Costs Keep Rail Systems Outdated Across U.S." (June 25, 2009, p.A13). "Millions of Miles of Pipe, and Years of Questions Weak Oversight Cited in Nation's System of Gas Lines" (Sept. 25, p.A1). California's "infrastructure spending ... has dropped from 20 percent of the state budget to 3 percent" (Sept. 28, p.A29). "Most summer school programs ... from elementary through high school" have been canceled in Los Angeles (May 30, 2009, p.A9), as well as in Florida, North Carolina, Delaware, Washington, Maryland, and Ohio (July 2, 2009, p.A1). "Arizona Drops Children's Health Program" (March 19, p.A17). "Money Shortage Forces Cut in Cases To Be Prosecuted" (May 9, 2009, p.A13). "Community Colleges Cutting Back on Open Access" (June 24, p.A15).
In Tracy, Calif., "residents will now have to pay every time they call 911 for a medical emergency. ... Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year ... or be charged $300 if they make a call for help" (Feb. 21, p.WK8).
In one Brooklyn neighborhood, "within a 10-minute walk, three day care centers, one senior center, one swimming pool, one after-school program and a health clinic are to close. Venture 20 minutes more, and six additional facilities two day care centers, two after-school programs, a senior center and a health clinic are also to shut down" (June 5, p.A1).
"Budget shortfalls have led 11 states to close enrollment in programs that provide drugs to people with H.I.V. and AIDS. ... Arizona has ended many behavioral health services for 4,000 children. Oregon has made significant cuts to community health programs for nearly 1,500 mentally ill residents and is eliminating a program that helps 2,000 residents with Alzheimer's or dementia receive care at home" (July 2, p.A24).
"Safety Is Issue as Budget Cuts Free Prisoners" (March 5, p.A1). Oregon, Illinois, Colorado, California, and Michigan were cited. The director of Michigan's Department of Corrections, Patricia L. Caruso, said, "We can live in fear and make bad policy based on fear, or we can have some backbone and make policy based on what really helps our communities." Then she admitted: "I worry about it. I say a rosary every day."