Snowstorms, Heat Waves, Power Failures And The Failure Of GOP Power

America is the richest country in the history of the world. This is an indisputable fact. Even in the throes of the Great Recession and its desperately slow recovery, we’re loaded. Without even blinking we can drop a billion dollars worth of munitions anywhere in the world in short notice. We can pay our CEOs more an hour than your average Chinese worker makes in a year.

And yet, I sat in the dark for three hours today when the power in my solidly upper middle class neighborhood (I rent) went out from two inches of sleet. Why?

Because our infrastructure sucks. Not just sucks but REALLY sucks.

Are your eyes glazing over already? Here, let me help you stay focused:

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How would you like to have been driving on one of these bridges when they collapsed from neglect? No? Me neither! And yet this is a regular occurrence. Here. In the richest country in the world.


We know, for a fact, that at least one out of every four bridges are structurally deficient and it’s even worse for our nations’ dams. People die when these things collapse; perhaps thousands in the case of a major dam failure. But we allow the threat to grow. In addition, have you ever wondered why it is that despite the fact the we can predict with 100% certainty that there will blizzards and heat waves every year throughout the country we can’t manange to prevent blackouts? Every year, most us spend some time either sweating or freezing in the dark and every year we curse and moan about it and every year it doesn’t get any better.

Infrastructure. Not so boring now, is it?

But you know what else infrastructure is? Jobs. Lots and lots of jobs. We’ve let our roads, bridges, dams, schools and firehouses decay so badly it will takes years to fix them. That’s a lot of work to be done. That’s a lot of paying jobs for people. People that currently don’t have jobs but would really really like one.

You know what else repairing our infrastructure gets us? A better electrical grid. Right now, we, the customer, spend billions of dollars more a year than we need to. Why? Because our crappy electrical grid wastes a ton of electricity and guess who eats the cost of that? If you said, “The power companies! Why should WE have to pay for electricity we don’t even get?!”, then you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how this country works. You are hereby ordered to watch every episode of “School House Rocks” and write a report on how little the current American model matches the one in the cartoons. Take anti-depressants first.

No, we pay for it because the power companies paying for all that wasted electricity would cut into the bottom line and that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. The solution would be a massive overhaul of our antiquated system with one that that is more efficient, safer and less prone to break downs. A “smart grid” is the current phrase for it and it would be awesome! We have the technology. We can make it better. Stronger. Faster. No seriously, we actually can. The upshot? a ridiculous amount of saved money and lower energy bills. Oh yeah, and we won’t have blackouts during those incredibly rare heat waves and blizzards that seem happen. Every. Single. Year.

But it’s not going to happen. This simple step to put hundreds of thousands of people (at least) back to work, save billions of dollars and improve our daily lives is a pipe dream. Literally. All because the GOP would rather let the country fall apart and allow the sick and the elderly to freeze to death in their homes than to allow the economy to improve. We can borrow a trillion dollars to invade, blow up and then pretend to rebuild other countries but not a dime shall be borrowed to rebuild our country no matter how much good it will do. And heaven forbid you ask the rich for a few extra percent in taxes after having it so good for thirty years! The GOP had a chance to lead with their new House majority and instead they chose to dig their heels in and stop everything. All that power pissed away for a morally and fiscally bankrupt ideology. The rich can’t survive the uncertainty of paying a little more?

We can’t can’t survive the uncertainty of whether we’ll have the money to keep the lights on or if they’ll stay even if we do.

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