Ryan Cooper at The Week writes—How Harvey exposes America’s dangerously dilapidated infrastructure:
Climate disasters like Harvey illustrate an undeniable fact: American infrastructure is living on borrowed time. We not only need large new investments to bring things up to par, we need a surge of national investment to address the dangers of living in a riskier climate. […]
All this is a microcosm of the general condition of the United States: coasting on an increasingly rickety foundation our grandparents put up at tremendous effort and expense. Our ruling class, like some addle-brained late Habsburg monarch, is not only ignoring the problem, but denying the very necessity of public investment in the first place.
The simple fact is that the United States could not possibly exist in its hyper-wealthy form — and probably not at all — without tremendous public investment in infrastructure. As societies grow wealthier, they necessarily require more and more sophisticated transportation, communication, and education. Highways, airports, rail networks, telephone and internet, schools, and so forth all require extensive government spending and regulation to function. Indeed, many absolutely vital systems — like the GPS satellite network — are to this day still owned and operated by the federal government.
The libertarian fantasy of the night watchman state was not utterly ludicrous back in the 19th century. But in the 20th, it became so. During the Great Depression, a laissez-faire “self-regulating” market system seized up and collapsed, and orthodox capitalist measures of austerity and tight money only made it worse. It took gargantuan New Deal projects — many of them the largest of their kind ever built up to that point — along with huge war spending, to put the country on a footing where it could continue to grow and develop. […]
“Only two and a half percent of the land in this country is protected. Not only are we being fought in trying to extend that two and a half percent to include other important or fragile areas but we are having to fight to protect that small two and a half percent. It is horrifying that we have to fight our own Government to save our environment.”
~Ansel Adams, Playboy interview (May 1983)
At on this date in 2007—Nuclear Weapons, Nonproliferation, and the 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates:
It was July 16, 1945. At 5:29:45 AM, the quiet southern New Mexico desert morning was shattered by an explosion, the effects of which were felt as far north as Albuquerque. It was the famous Trinity nuclear weapon test, the brainchild of the Manhattan Project, born of the concern that Nazi Germany was developing a similar weapon.
However, Germany wasn’t on anyone’s mind that morning, as World War II had ended in Europe two months earlier. The war still raged in the Pacific theater; after the successful test of “the gadget” in New Mexico, Manhattan Project Metallurgical Laboratory scientist Leo Szilard, and 69 of his colleagues sent a petition to President Truman expressing their opposition to the use of nuclear weapons against Japan. The petition warned of triggering an arms race, with dire international consequences