I take no great pleasure in the resignation/firing of Michael Flynn whose brief stint as National Security Adviser came to an inglorious end yesterday, for in the deck of incompetents, bunglers, liars, and bigots into which Trump has shuffled himself, Flynn isn’t even a picture card. But I agree, in terms of the damage he could have done when Russia or any nation needed a favor and had this security breach to hold over his head, having him gone is a good thing.
We’re wrong though if we see this as the first step in Drain the Swamp II. It’s really only the system at work, and provided the system keeps working, others like him may follow.
Where the system hasn’t been working (please excuse the clumsy segue) is in our infrastructure. We’re all aware of the looming disaster at the Oroville Dam in California where a spillway failure threatens to release a 30-foot wall of water and displace nearly 200,000 people. Since the construction of the dam in 1968 the spillway had never been needed: California has suffered more drought than flood. But eleven years ago a study was completed and a recommendation made that the spillway, an earthen structure, be lined with concrete. The reason was simple: erosion would churn up all sorts of detritus and further damage levees downstream. The proposal was denied.
Oroville is not an isolated case. Bridges, tunnels, overpasses, water mains, pipelines, docks—with the exception of President Obama’s Recover Act (stimulus) in 2009, there has been little concerted, in fact seemingly little interest on the part of the government, to repair things. Every once in a while a tragedy occurs—the 2007 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, the levees in New Orleans during Katrina, the lead poisoning of the Flint, Michigan, water supply, Connecticut’s own Mianus River Bridge collapse in 1983. Those occurrences rouse everyone to action…but only temporarily. Today it’s the Oraville Dam. I’m afraid it may be more a precursor than an event.
The American Society of Civil Engineers, in a 2013 study, gave gives the country’s dams an average grade of “D” and estimated that at least $21 billion was needed to fix the oldest and most threatening ones, most of which were build before 1970 and given only cursory care. It’s coincidental that the current estimates for Trump’s wall also comes close to $21 billion. If we had someone other than a bigot in the White House, she’d be able to see that all that money invested in jobs would eradicate so much unemployment or underemployment that we would no longer have any reasonable criteria for barring foreign workers.
That’s not going to happen in the foreseeable future, not with incompetents, bunglers, liars, and bigots running the country (and please excuse that second clumsy segue), but $21 billion of our tax dollars really could America safer, and Trump’s cockamamie wall promise would play no role.