OK

This is only a Preview!

You must Publish this diary to make this visible to the public,
or click 'Edit Diary' to make further changes first.

Posting a Diary Entry

Daily Kos welcomes blog articles from readers, known as diaries. The Intro section to a diary should be about three paragraphs long, and is required. The body section is optional, as is the poll, which can have 1 to 15 choices. Descriptive tags are also required to help others find your diary by subject; please don't use "cute" tags.

When you're ready, scroll down below the tags and click Save & Preview. You can edit your diary after it's published by clicking Edit Diary. Polls cannot be edited once they are published.

If this is your first time creating a Diary since the Ajax upgrade, before you enter any text below, please press Ctrl-F5 and then hold down the Shift Key and press your browser's Reload button to refresh its cache with the new script files.

ATTENTION: READ THE RULES.

  1. One diary daily maximum.
  2. Substantive diaries only. If you don't have at least three solid, original paragraphs, you should probably post a comment in an Open Thread.
  3. No repetitive diaries. Take a moment to ensure your topic hasn't been blogged (you can search for Stories and Diaries that already cover this topic), though fresh original analysis is always welcome.
  4. Use the "Body" textbox if your diary entry is longer than three paragraphs.
  5. Any images in your posts must be hosted by an approved image hosting service (one of: imageshack.us, photobucket.com, flickr.com, smugmug.com, allyoucanupload.com, picturetrail.com, mac.com, webshots.com, editgrid.com).
  6. Copying and pasting entire copyrighted works is prohibited. If you do quote something, keep it brief, always provide a link to the original source, and use the <blockquote> tags to clearly identify the quoted material. Violating this rule is grounds for immediate banning.
  7. Be civil. Do not "call out" other users by name in diary titles. Do not use profanity in diary titles. Don't write diaries whose main purpose is to deliberately inflame.
For the complete list of DailyKos diary guidelines, please click here.

Please begin with an informative title:

When Hurricane Charlie tore through our neighborhood in 2004, all of the houses on our street made it through unscathed. All except one ... ours! A tree from our neighbor's yard fell over the master bedroom, punching a large hole in our roof. Our wonderful neighbors came over in the middle of the night, and helped my husband cover the hole will plastic tarp, which one neighbor loaned us, to minimize the water damage into the house.

Within a day or two, USAA Insurance had an adjuster out who proclaimed that they could not just patch the hole ... they had to replace the entire roof. In our case, Hurricane Charlie turned out to be a blessing in disguise because even with the $3,000 deductible, the check from the insurance company more than covered the entire cost. My husband knew somebody in the roofing business who cut us a deal, but told us that it would be at least four weeks before they could replace the roof because materials were in short supply. A few days later we received the check from the USAA. My husband called the roofer, just to let him know that we had received the check. That was on Wednesday. On Friday a truck stopped by and placed packages of roofing tiles on our roof. Saturday afternoon, I awoke to find 10 men on our roofing, replacing it. We had been saving to replace the roof the following January, and counted our blessings.

A couple of months later, the fourth hurricane of 2004 and the third to tear through Polk County, Florida, hit. This time our house made it through unscathed, except for a tree that knocked out a chain-link fence. Many of the other houses on our street didn't fair that well. This time it was months before some of the roofs were repaired or replaced and the price of a new roof was double what we had paid for ours.

When our roof was damaged, my husband and I were responsible for replacing it. Fortunately, we had excellent insurance coverage and were able to take care of the problem. Over the years, we've had to make other repairs to our home. Several years ago water started gushing out of the foundation and it turned out that the pipes under the house had worn out. We ended up having to have the entire house repiped through the ceiling at our own expense. The copper pipes had simply worn out and the repair was not covered by insurance and we had to take out a loan to make the repairs. Of course, we borrowed the money. It was no picnic living without water for a week while the work was being done. We certainly couldn't live like that indefinitely. The infrastructure of our home was our responsibility.

I'm sure Republicans would cheer us for being such upstanding citizens, and taking care our what we are supposed to just like they preach when they talk about personal responsibility. However, after that last hurricane, the electricity was also knocked out in our neighborhood as well as all over the city ... for a week in the middle of hot August. Naturally, as much as we would have liked to take individual responsibility for the repairs it was beyond our ability. Trees had knocked down poles and wires all over the place. We were at the mercy of our local government that owns the power company here. This too turned out to be a blessing in disguise because when they restored the power, they also replaced the old transformer. Up until that point, every time there was a storm, our electricity would be knocked out for hours because the transformer that served us was old and worn out and should have been replaced years before. It actually took an act of God to get that transformer replaced. And ever since, when the electricity gets knocked out, he pops back on immediately. This is an example of how the infrastructure is falling apart in our country. Things are only getting fixed when there is no other choice.

Tonight, I watched a segment of the Rachel Maddow Show which was being guest hosted by Ezra Klein. It began with Ezra talking about football. Did you know that New York has three football teams and two of them actually play their home games in New Jersey? I didn't because I'm not a sports fan, and so I was only half listening when Ezra explained that there was a big traffic jam near Met Life Stadium on Monday morning. Was it because there was a big game or concert going on? No, it was because a water main had broken. Then he went on to inform the audience:

Every day across the United States an estimated 700 water mains break. Seven Hundred. These water main breaks cause traffic delays. They cause damage to lives and property. They cause disruptions in the drinking water supply, which they carry to our homes. Maybe, you say, it's supposed to be like this. Maybe this is the cost of having water. No.
It's not supposed to be that way. We pay taxes and part of those taxes are supposed to be used to maintain and replace our country's infrastructure. Things like roads, and bridges, and yes, water mains. But of course, there's a budget crisis and Republicans steadfastly refuse to raise taxes on any one, especially the wealthiest among us! Of course, the wealthiest among live in neighborhoods and communities, where something tells me that their infrastructure has been perfectly maintained. But what about the rest of the country? Well, it turns out that not only could Congress do something about it, this is actually the best time to do something about it:
In all, 30% of the pipes serving major population centers are between 40 and 80 years old. We are now in Crisis Mode when it comes to the water infrastructure in this country. The cost to fix it: about $335 billion over the next 20 years. That's a lot of money. That's the bad news. The good news? There has never been a better time to fix it than right now. Things like aging and broken water mains: that is exactly what we're talking about when we talk about infrastructure. And infrastructure just happens to be the best deal in the economy right now.

Here are the reasons: We have construction workers who aren't productively employed. The unemployment rate in that sector is about 14%. It's a depression. The global slowdown has meant a slowdown in construction costs because raw materials are cheap because countries like China and India aren't using as many of them, much less Europe. We have factories that are lying dormant that could be making those materials and employing people to produce those materials that aren’t currently being productively used for other things. And we have money that is on the table to borrow for essentially less than nothing.

Let's be clear -- putting this stuff off is not fiscally responsible. A dollar of delayed infrastructure maintenance, is like a dollar of borrowing. It’s a dollar we have to pay later. But when you delay the infrastructure maintenance, that one dollar today could become 50 tomorrow. As a bridge you were going to fix has now collapsed. So we need to do it, it’s cheap to do it and it gives people jobs. It is an unbelievable deal. In any world we should be doing it and yet we're not.

It would not have been fiscally responsible of me or my husband not to replace our roof or our pipes, but somehow our country is being fiscally irresponsible about replacing the worn-out infrastructure in our country. Of course, I'm guessing your Republican family, friends and colleagues would probably say it is President Obama's fault. They'd be wrong. Ezra Klein's guest to discuss this subject was Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, who when asked why our country is not doing something about this, said:
Well the answer is pretty simple. Everything you said is true. Everybody knows you have to invest in infrastructure. We can create millions of decent paying jobs in the long term and I speak as a former mayor, you obviously save money because you don't have to do constant repairs as we've just seen.

The simple reason is I'm afraid that you have a Republican mindset that says, “hmmm, let's see. We can repair the infrastructure, save money long time, create millions of jobs, bad idea. Barack Obama will look good. And we've got to do everything that we can to make Barack Obama look bad.”

So, despite the fact that we had a modest bipartisan transportation bill (roads, bridges, public transit) pass the Senate with over 70 votes; Inhofe, the most conservative guy in the Senate, working with Barbara Boxer one of the most progressive. We can't get that bill moving in the House of Representatives. So if you're asking me why, I would say hundred percent political. If it's good for America, if it creates jobs, if it's good for Barack Obama, we can't do it.

When that Republican you know tries to blame President Obama, remind them that this is a bill that passed in the Senate with 70 votes. It is the Republicans in the House of Representatives that are responsible for the hold up, and they should be held accountable. Rather than save money in the long run, and put people back to work now, the Republicans would prefer to wait until after the election when they hope to have Mitt Romney in the White House. Meanwhile, our country is crumbling around us and people are wondering about where they are going to live and where their next meal will come from. It is unconscionable.

When somebody is elected to serve a district in Congress, they are elected to serve every body in the district. They are not elected simply to promote their partisan agenda. They represent every single person, and that includes Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. If they can not put what's best for the entire country before Party, they have no business being in Congress. If you live in a District where your representative is a Republican, call or write to them and remind them of this obligation. More importantly, share this information with you family, friends and coworkers. After this display, there can be no doubt that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are placing Party before country. Whatever the outcome of the November election, this can not wait.

The video of the segment is available below the orange squiggle. For those who do not have the bandwidth to play it, I have transcribed it the entire segment.

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).



Transcript

Here’s one of the biggest oddities in all professional sports. You ready? The Great State of New York has three, count them, three different professional football teams. There's the Buffalo Bills, the New York Jets and the New York Giants. One state, three football teams. Now, there are 22 states that don't even have one NFL team. I come from an hour south of L.A., which is not in itself a state but it also does not have a football team, quite to our annoyance. But the State of New York, the Great State of New York is blessed with three of them. The odd part though, of the three New York NFL teams, only one of them actually plays in New York. The Buffalo Bills play all of their Home games in a place called Orchard Park, New York. It’s right outside of Buffalo. The Jets and Giants, they play not in New York but rather in New Jersey. That's right. The New York Jets and the New York Giants are both based out of New Jersey. They, in fact, share a stadium in New Jersey called the Met Life Stadium. When the Jets are playing there, the stadium is lit up in green, very fancy. When the Giants are playing there, the stadium is lit up in blue. I think I actually like the blue.

And if you happened to be driving by Met Life Stadium in New Jersey yesterday morning, your face was probably a nice bright shade of red (you see how we did that), because this is what it looked like, bumper to bumper traffic, gridlock, nobody moving much more than a few feet for hours. Now, was there some big sporting event at Met Life Stadium or some big concert that was causing all of that traffic? No, there was not. It was Monday morning. There was instead a giant water main break. A 12 inch water main buried beneath the ground near Met Life Stadium erupted yesterday morning around 3 a.m. turning one of the busiest roads into New York City to what looked more like a parking lot. Traffic was backed up for miles all because of the water main break. And it wasn’t just New Jersey.

Let's say you were due in court this morning at around 9 a.m. at the John R. Hargrove Sr. District Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland. The thing you would have found when you showed up for court this morning was the entire courthouse was shut down. The Baltimore Courthouse was shut down today after, you guessed it, a giant water main broke right nearby. In St. Louis, Missouri this morning, police crews had to close off several lanes of Hampton Avenue to any vehicle traffic at all after a 36 inch water main broke right underneath that street. Hampton Avenue is one of the most heavily trafficked streets in all of St. Louis. I downtown Atlanta, again this morning, three of the four lanes of Central Avenue had to be shut down after a giant water main break there as well.

Now, this was the scene yesterday afternoon in Pearl City, Hawaii, right outside of Honolulu.

>> Reporter:  They've seen water main breaks along Komo Mai Drive before but this one made an even bigger splash Monday afternoon.

>> Male Citizen: I heard a noise, started hearing rocks flying, a lot of glass, some kind of glass noise and I heard water just whipping out from the ground. It looks like old faithful.

>>Female Citizen: It was just like a water fall, gushing through. Towels wouldn’t do any good by then.

>> They're going to get flooded down there though, aren’t they?

>> It was a straight, like a river, just going down to the porch, collecting with all the other water that was shooting out this way. I was calling my mom crying. All you could hear was the roar of the water flying past me.

Every day across the United States an estimated 700 water mains break. Seven Hundred. These water main breaks cause traffic delays. They cause damage to lives and property. They cause disruptions in the drinking water supply, which they carry to our homes. Maybe, you say, it's supposed to be like this. Maybe this is the cost of having water. No. Every few years the American Society of Civil Engineers issues a National Report Card on America's infrastructure. You probably heard that the latest report gave us the grade of D. Sad. But when it comes to our water infrastructure (things like water mains), it was even worse than that. We got a grade of D-Minus, and part of the reason for that is because our water mains in this country are really, really old. Right now the City of Evanston, Illinois, is in Emergency Repair Mode after eight separate breaks occurred along one main in a span of 48-hours. Quote “It’s being caused by the age of the system and the ground the main is buried in, said Utilities Director David Stoneback, adding that the pipe’s contact with the ground for more than 86 years has been a factor in the problem.” You think?

In all, 30% of the pipes serving major population centers are between 40 and 80 years old. We are now in Crisis Mode when it comes to the water infrastructure in this country. The cost to fix it: about $335 billion over the next 20 years. That's a lot of money. That's the bad news. The good news? There has never been a better time to fix it than right now. Things like aging and broken water mains: that is exactly what we're talking about when we talk about infrastructure. And infrastructure just happens to be the best deal in the economy right now.

Here are the reasons: We have construction workers who aren't productively employed. The unemployment rate in that sector is about 14%. It's a depression. The global slowdown has meant a slowdown in construction costs because raw materials are cheap because countries like China and India aren't using as many of them, much less Europe. We have factories that are lying dormant that could be making those materials and employing people to produce those materials that aren’t currently being productively used for other things. And we have money that is on the table to borrow for essentially less than nothing.

Let's be clear -- putting this stuff off is not fiscally responsible. A dollar of delayed infrastructure maintenance, is like a dollar of borrowing. It’s a dollar we have to pay later. But when you delay the infrastructure maintenance, that one dollar today could become 50 tomorrow. As a bridge you were going to fix has now collapsed. So we need to do it, it’s cheap to do it and it gives people jobs. It is an unbelievable deal. In any world we should be doing it and yet we're not.

There are some things in American politics and policy that we should be having real arguments about. When Mitt Romney says, for instance, we don't need more public sector workers. He thinks we as a country we have too many firemen. It's an argument we should have. It's a fair argument. It’s an argument about the size of the public sector. But. If he thinks we shouldn't be spending as much money on teachers, fine, that's also an argument we should have. But nobody thinks we don't need to fix water mains. I mean, literally nobody thinks that. Not Mitt Romney, not Barack Obama, not even archconservative members of the U.S. Senate like James Inhofe who thinks that we should be spending more on infrastructure than we currently are.

Earlier this year, Congress extended the Payroll Tax Cut. Reasonable people can disagree about whether we needed more Payroll Tax Cuts. Giving people more money that is in their paychecks isn’t necessarily buying anything for us as a country. It’s supporting the economy, but it’s a temporary boost. We don’t get anything tangible and permanent out of it in the long wrong. It's the sort of thing that Republican Congressman Paul Ryan calls Sugar High Economics, in fact. Again, a temporary boost; not much else. I don't really agree but reasonable people can have that discussion. We can have a discussion about Sugar High Economics, but you can't say that doing things like fixing water mains is Sugar High Economics. You get something tangible in the end. You get a new water main. Not all infrastructure is what you can see with your eyes: roads and bridges. Sometimes it's the stuff under your feet. It’s bringing water to your family. Even if tomorrow the economy recovered completely, we still as a country need to fix our water mains. It's one of those things we need to do no matter what. And now is not only as good a time as any to do it, it's a better time than almost any to do it. But instead we have traffic jams that pile up for hours and hour and hours, in city after city, while we sit and do nothing. If this is the time to do it, the question is: Why aren't we?

Joining us now, is Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders is on the Senate Committee for Environment and Public Works, and the Budget Committee. Senator Sanders, thank you for being with us tonight.

Senator Sanders: Great for being with you.

Ezra Klein: So, why aren't we?

Senator Sanders:  Well the answer is pretty simple. Everything you said is true. Everybody knows you have to invest in infrastructure. We can create millions of decent paying jobs in the long term and I speak as a former mayor, you obviously save money because you don't have to do constant repairs as we've just seen. The simple reason is I'm afraid that you have a Republican mindset that says, “hmmm, let's see. We can repair the infrastructure, save money long time, create millions of jobs, bad idea. Barack Obama will look good. And we've got to do everything that we can to make Barack Obama look bad.” So, despite the fact that we had a modest bipartisan transportation bill (roads, bridges, public transit) pass the Senate with over 70 votes; Inhofe, the most conservative guy in the Senate, working with Barbara Boxer one of the most progressive. We can't get that bill moving in the House of Representatives. So if you're asking me why, I would say hundred percent political. If it's good for America, if it creates jobs, if it's good for Barack Obama, we can't do it.

Ezra Klein: Now, some Republicans say and some people say, didn't we do infrastructure a couple years ago? You heard a lot in the stimulus that we had done infrastructure. So how come we have all of this outstanding infrastructure needs?

Senator Sanders:  Because we have ignored infrastructural needs for a very, very long time. Yeah, we did put money into infrastructure. We put it into the State of Vermont. Put more money into roads and bridges, but we need a lot more and that’s true for the other 49 states, as well. It's not only roads, it’s not only bridges, it’s not only water systems, it's mass transportation. It is rail. China is building high-speed rail all over the place. We are not. Our rail system is in many ways deteriorating. We have schools aging. We have culverts that need work. We have tunnels that need work. We have an enormous amount of work that is ready to go right now and it is beyond comprehension that our Republican friends will not support infrastructure legislation.

Ezra Klein: Now, one of the things I think people sometimes miss in the infrastructure conversation is for the last couple of years we used to do infrastructure bills for many years at a time, five years, six years, something like that. For the last couple of years, we have passed nine short term bills in Congress instead of one. The Inhofe-Boxer Bill is only two years, but that’s longer than a couple of months. And that's meant, as I understand it, that states and localities can't plan future and bigger infrastructure projects because they don't know what the Federal Government will or won’t be doing in a couple months, making essentially every dollars we’re spending on infrastructure now less effective because people can't plan for the future around it.

Senator Sanders:  Absolutely. And I’ll tell you something. Every day that we delay right now getting this modest transportation bill done, is a serious problem because in the State of Vermont, we don’t do roads January and February. We do them in the summertime. And the construction companies need to know that they're ready to go and they need to know it now.

Ezra Klein: One of the things that we used to do in infrastructure and I know is holding up the Surface Transportation Bill in some ways is we had a gas tax for it. It was a tax on gasoline. Ronald Reagan raised it by a nickel when he invested in infrastructure. One thing that's been remarkable to me in this conversation in the last couple of years, just showing how far both parties have moved right on the tax issue is that even Democrats refuse to broach the idea of a gas tax. With that not even on the table any more, you know, I do wonder where we're going to be funding it in a sustained way going forward.

Senator Sanders: That's a good question. I'm not a great fan of the gas tax because I come from a rural state. We’ve got a lot of people traveling long distances to work and they're making 10 bucks an hour. But we’re living in a country right now with the most unequal distribution of income and wealth. The wealthiest people are playing the lowest effective tax rates in decades. There are ways to raise money to create jobs and rebuilding our infrastructure without doing it in a regressive way, in my view.

Ezra Klein:  Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you so much for being around tonight.

Senator Sanders: My pleasure.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to hungrycoyote on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 12:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by These Green Mountains and Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.