The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Infrastructure Crumbles while Trump Tweets

Mar 26, 2017

Donald Trump said he would put money into fixing the country’s crumbling infrastructure. Last summer, as a candidate, he promised a trillion dollars to address it.

Yes, it’s absolutely true the infrastructure is crumbling! Just in the past few weeks, we’ve seen a slew of shocking stories:

In Dallas, a six-month old baby died after his babysitter couldn’t reach 911. Dallas’s aging 911 technology couldn’t tell the difference between calls on hold and hangups, creating a huge backlog.

In northern California, heavy rains created a huge hole in the spillway of the Oroville Dam, leading to an emergency evacuation of 200,000 people. This dam is one of 14,000 classified in the country as “high hazard potential,” needing repair.

Leaking sewer pipes caused sinkholes to appear suddenly in Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Fraser, Michigan, swallowing cars and homes.

Power went out in southeast Michigan, leaving two million people without power for days, some for almost a week. There were high winds, but this massive an outage was not an act of nature. It was caused by trees left untrimmed and power lines and grids, unmaintained.

An equipment malfunction at a water treatment plant in Detroit caused water pressure to drop to levels that allowed bacterial contamination. Tens of thousands in the city, including at 29 schools, weren’t informed of the danger until after they had used potentially contaminated water.

And, of course, the city of Flint still suffers with lead-contaminated water, several years after the problem was first publicized.

All over the country, roads, bridges, dams, power grids, and water systems are crumbling. All over the country, people are suffering, being injured, and even dying because of the failures of this aging, crumbling infrastructure.

But Trump’s budget proposal does nothing to address this emergency. Just the opposite.

Forget the trillion dollars Trump promised last summer. Instead of more resources being devoted to infrastructure repair, his budget is actually full of cuts. He wants to cut the Department of Transportation by 2.4 billion dollars. Amtrak’s budget would be slashed, the FAA would be privatized, and other transit projects would be canceled. Funding for New Starts, a federal infrastructure grant program, would be cut. The TIGER discretionary grant program would be eliminated; this program was going to be giving money to cities like Detroit and Flint to repair buses and roads. No more.

Trump’s main infrastructure proposal is to turn roads and highways into toll roads run by private companies – so we would have to pay to use the roads, giving those companies a profit. He wants to dismantle public maintenance and oversight and give public works projects to corporations for their profit.

This is not a plan to fix the infrastructure. It’s a plan by a real estate billionaire tycoon turned president to pay for the roads, bridges, and structure repairs with our lives and health and taxes and already low wages.

And it’s an outrage. It’s obvious the country’s infrastructure needs repairs. It’s equally obvious that fixing it would provide jobs – in fact, one reason for the lack of jobs is that companies and the government have steadily been cutting back on maintenance – which means they have been cutting back on jobs. Millions and millions of jobs.

Fix the infrastructure and millions of people would be put to work. Take the money from profits. Take back the money the government has been handing to the banks. Take the money from big corporations, which today pay little, even no taxes.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats have ever made such a proposal. And they never will.

But the working class can fight to impose a plan like this – to make this country liveable and to create jobs. Think we can’t make a fight again to impose what we need? Well, we certainly can’t go on living this way, with jobs disappearing, and the country rotting around our ears.