Government needs to focus on infrastructure
June 14, 2015
OPINION By JIM GRIFFIN
For decades now, money for infrastructure repairs and re-building and for a wide variety of public services has been steadily slashed and eroded.
The average American bridge is about 50 years old with many having already collapsed over the years. Meanwhile, the basic railroad system has seen its budget drastically cut. The results of that shallow and predatory theft are horrific accidents like oil tank car trains derailing all over the country and the Amtrak passenger train disaster just weeks ago in Philadelphia.
Everywhere, roads and highways crumble to dust. And where are private industry plans for saving our infrastructure? Isn’t the “private sector” supposed to be the savior over and above those horrid levels of government?
On top of all this, the U.S. Post Office, one of the most clearly called for entities created explicitly in the U.S. Constitution, with the obvious idea of public funding, was forced decades ago to be totally “self-sufficient” and self-funding, but is at the same time not allowed to do a variety of things that could help to salvage it. Then, to add insult to injury, Congress, in its infinite “wisdom”, mandated the Post Office to pay 75 years in advance on its pension obligations, an insane requirement found nowhere else in the public or private sectors.
This is an obvious and conscious attempt to bankrupt the Postal Service and to set it up for privatization. The whole idea that the Postal Service should no longer get public funding was based on a phony comparison with corporations like Fed Ex and UPS, the idea being that they get no public money and so it’s “unfair competition” that the U.S. Post Office should. The lie of that is exposed when we realize that companies like Fed EX and UPS do not do door to door, direct-by-hand mail delivery to every household in America six days a week.
Meanwhile, the Social Security Trust Fund has been raided continually by politicians in order to pay for various things, largely imperial wars of plunder and domination.
Some services are naturally social, public in nature, and of necessity must be subsidized with public money. They cannot be real public services and be privatized entities seeking profit at the same time because, generally, necessary public services are not readily profitable if they are to also be affordable and fully available to consumers.
The same is true for basic infrastructure. “How can we possibly afford it all”, will scream ignorant and Fox News oriented persons? How about fewer wars and tax cuts for billionaires? How about ending corporate welfare and “too big to fail” mindsets?
How about ending the corporate ownership of politicians and limitless cash in election campaigns? Just some thoughts. And you know what, stop stealing from the Social Security Trust Fund and replace all the money used for non-Social Security things over the decades — all of it. The Social Security fund “crisis” exists only because politicians are smarmy thieves.
Jim Griffin has lived in San Luis Obispo for seven years.