Yesterday's water main break here in Bethesda underscores the root cause of many of our problems. It was discovered, for example, that the offending pipe was built in 1964. Water Works officials had been warning the entire area that the system was under heavy strain and that breaks like these were only a matter of time. As a matter of fact, there had been nearly 3,000 similar incidents in the past ten years alone. Increased demand and usage is squarely to blame. Our industriousness and overpopulation have been our undoing yet again. Our foolishness is also to blame, since we have yet again been obsessed with trivialities at the expense of crucial issues that, hidden from our view, we frequently take for granted.
Furthermore, the event underscores how we place so much stock in cosmetics in this society. It's often more important to display an attractive exterior than to address the multitude of problems which exist hidden, underneath the surface. It reminds me of the woman who purchases expensive makeup to disguise the ugliness of her inner issues. I'm reminded of the Minnesota interstate bridge collapse as another example of how our infrastructure is crumbling while we put our money into superficial matters instead. Expensive wrapping paper will not obscure a bad gift, and so too we need to seriously put some thought into resolving this crisis. To cite a historical example, Alabama politicians and governors into the 1960's waxed proudly about having paved new roads on their watch---since the state was still largely rural then, good quality roads were badly needed. Furthermore, newly paved roads served as a visible symbol for everyone to see that government did provide needed results. These days, I think we believe that somehow these prosaic, but still simple matters have been put aside forever and require no future work. Not so.
Allow me to propose a solution if I may. We are in a recession. People are out of work. Imagine how many jobs could be created all over the country if we got to work fixing our decaying and ancient sewer systems. I know it would probably take years and years before the task was through, providing a steady supply of work in the interim. One of my many hopes for an Obama administration is a new CCC or adoption of a Newer Deal. Not every reform measure has to be overly complex. Sometimes the simplest measures are the most needed. I am aware this probably makes too much sense, but hopefully soon our President will act rationally and logically for a change. I'm hopeful.