Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

97. On the road

Infrastructure

It is 97 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Among questions surrounding any election – from school board to president – concern what should be done and isn’t, as well as what should not be done but is.

My campaign to whip up a Blue Wave this fall is not just to see Trump’s enablers defeated; it’s not that simple. There is a long list of things I wish to see done differently. Policing, military spending, education, drug laws, treatment of addicts, prison abuse, racial injustice, denying dignity and rights to the LGBTQ community, no gaslighting, and responsible gun laws just scratch the surface.

One concrete concern – pun intended – is the nation’s infrastructure.

My wife and I have done quite a bit of traveling and I’ve driven in all 50 states, from the New Jersey Turnpike to Alaska’s Dalton Highway. In the past nine weeks – often pulling a fifth-wheel RV – I’ve driven in 16 states. Incredibly poor roads and highways is becoming the norm in a country that once took pride in its highway system.

Bridges and dams are not so easy to evaluate with the naked eye, and we tend simply to trust they are being taken care of, just as we do water, sewer, energy, solid waste and so on.

Reports on our infrastructure, such as this one from the American Society of Civil Engineers, warn us, however, every one of these elements we depend on so heavily is deeply flawed.

The society’s report card graded 16 categories. Our rail system received a B, bridges were graded at C+, ports at C+ and solid waste at C+. The other 14 grading areas – including drinking water, dams, schools, roads and energy – received some level of D.

These are problems that have grown out of decades of neglect. We’ve kicked the can down the road to the point we cannot continue because of all the potholes. If these are old issues, if they’re not Trump’s fault, why are they weighing in on this fall’s election?

Simple. Republicans have been gleeful spenders of money when it comes to the military and defense. At times, it seems their entire image of self-worth is wrapped around tanks, missiles and battleships. Add the humongous amounts of money we spend on prisons and jails, on police efforts to control uncontrollable drugs that many states have even legalized, and even on TSA officers to examine our shoes.

Repairing roads, making dams safe, providing healthy drinking water to Flint, Mich., and the rest of us … all of this will take gobs of money. You know, like the money Congress allocates to spend on pork barrel military projects even though the Department of Defense does not want them.

On top of way too much testosterone-induced spending, remember the tax scam? That was the one last fall that the GOP boasted would save you money (piddling amounts for most of us) even though in a few years it would cost you more. It’s also the one that saved huge sums for the richest 1 percent, the same people Trump spoke of the other day when he released that he was considering giving them another big tax break.

So, I’m concerned about safe drinking water, roads, our power grid (you have heard that the Russians have been caught trying to hack into our electricity network, potentially throwing us into the dark) because the money we need to fix things is being wasted and because our nation’s income is being given away to make the super wealthy even more wealthy.

That’s one more reason for you to register to vote, confirm you’re still registered, vote for Democratic candidates … and encourage others to do the same. (That’s what I’m doing!)

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