Feb 3, 2014
Old Man Winter came to most of the U.S. with a vengeance this year, and the country was totally unprepared.
In Chicago, known for dealing with snow, main streets were salted and plowed after most of the snowstorms, but neighborhood streets were not. In many other cities, even the main streets were barely plowed.
Cities and states are complaining that they’re running short of salt for the highways. This is the most basic necessity for keeping highways safe when there’s a snowstorm – look what happened in Atlanta, where they did not salt the roads, with less than three inches of snow.
In cities throughout the country, thousands of potholes have opened up, wrecking cars and causing accidents. And everywhere, road crews are way behind in filling them. Cities like Chicago and Detroit complain that they’ve already used up their budgets for filling potholes – so instead we have to use up our budgets to fix our cars.
Sidewalks remain uncleared of snow throughout much of the country. On top of that, in cities like Detroit, many streetlights are out. So people wearing dark winter clothing are forced to walk down the middle of unlit, unplowed city streets at night. This means deadly accidents waiting to happen.
Other infrastructure, like power and water lines, is also breaking down. In Baltimore, for instance, over 300 water mains have already broken from the freezing and thawing. Many of these pipes should have been replaced decades ago.
The bosses and their tools, the politicians, pretend that it’s just the weather – nothing can be done. But in a reasonable society, you could easily fix these problems. If it’s dangerous to drive, cancel non-critical work for a better day while reinforcing critical jobs with extra workers and extra safety precautions. Set up warming centers, and give parents the day off automatically if school is canceled. Make sure there are enough plows, trucks to remove snow, salt stashed away, and workers to drive those trucks, clear sidewalks, repair potholes, fix sewer lines, and upgrade the power grid. Tens of millions of people need jobs; well, here is work that needs to be done that they could be hired to do!
The problem is the bosses don’t want to spend money on services for the population. They want all the money for themselves. This winter is one more piece of evidence, if we needed it, that the capitalist system we live in is incompetent to solve the most basic human problems.