America: A Flint in the Making

When the Flint water crisis hit the news late last year, it sent shockwaves around the country. Good citizens everywhere asked, “How could any government allow up to 12,000 children to be exposed to poisonous water? How could they have cared so much about saving money that they failed to perform the normal practice of treating the water to prevent lead leaching into it from old pipes?”

But as details of the tragedy came to light and as data started to roll in about Flint’s water system and systems elsewhere, a scary reality was revealed:

Flint is not alone.

As Detroit Gov. Rick Snyder meets with President Obama today to discuss details of the man-made disaster, all across the country America’s amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties are disintegrating due to crumbling infrastructure. Official neglect rooted in fiscal excuses and a lack of regard for poor and minority communities, like Flint, are putting public safety in extreme danger.

The 2014 gas explosion in Harlem that killed eight people and injured dozens? That was caused by the installation of a defective fusion joint inside a gas line that was over 100 years old.

The Tex Wash Bridge collapse last year in southern California that was the result of a heavy rainfall? That structure was built with a flawed design and a shallow foundation in 1967 and was deemed “functionally obsolete” in 2013.

And, of course, the levees that failed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 leaving millions of people homeless and over 1,800 dead? They were missing a storm-protection system and lacked both strength and adequate structure.

From sea to shining sea, America’s infrastructure is failing.

Nearly 30 percent of all U.S. roads are in “poor condition,” and there are over 240,000 water main breaks every year. More than 100,000 miles of pipe made up of archaic material are seeping methane gas, and over 7 billion gallons of water are wasted every day due to corrosion.

And though state, local, and federal governments seem to have plenty of money to spend on corporate tax breaks and wars that cost trillions of dollars and thousands of lives, they seem perfectly content to sit by as the ground beneath Americans’ feet is literally crumbling.

Investing in America’s foundation– including pipes and roads and bridges – would make the country safer. But it would also put people to work. More work means more money. More money means more consumer spending. More spending means a more prosperous country. Good pipes and roads and bridges are good all around.

Infrastructure spending is currently at a 30-year low with federal investment having dropped by half in the past three decades. Yet infrastructure needs are at $3.4 trillion.

It’s no wonder that disasters like Flint and Katrina continue to happen—the government lets them.

Just like experts say you don’t cut government spending during a recession, you sure as hell don’t cut infrastructure spending during bridge collapses, and water system failures, and pipeline explosions.

It doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t get the country anywhere in the end.

It definitely didn’t get the government or the citizens of Flint anywhere.

Not only did 10 people lose their lives due to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Flint, but also thousands of children are now at risk of having serious and irreversible health and developmental problems. And to repair the damage and replace the lead-leaching pipes caused by the government’s attempt to save a couple of million through changing the city’s water source, it will cost taxpayers as much as $1.5 billion.

A spokesperson for the governor stated, “This is the next infrastructure challenge for the state of Michigan.”

You don’t get to call a tragedy and its financial effects a challenge when you were the one who created it.

The entire nation is a Flint in the making. The solution is investment.

***

 To submit a blog to Union Matters, e-mail it to bstack@usw.org. Keep it to 250 words or fewer. You MUST include your full name, hometown, and state. You may attach a photograph of yourself. Please include a phone number. This WILL NOT be published. Posting any given blog is within the discretion of the USW. No blog using foul language (this is a family site), false information (we don’t want to get sued), or unnecessary personal attacks (again, we don’t want to get sued) will be used. Wait a reasonable period of time, then blog again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stronger Together

Stronger Together