The following is a bit of unsolicited propaganda, in favor of spending big on propping up the nation’s brittle skeleton.
Contained within are several Republican trigger words, such as “resilient.” I suggest reading elsewhere if you are sensitive to such things. 🙂
A poem to infrastructure? Being the wife of a civil engineer was bound to rub off on me sometime, I guess.
Infrastructure is much in the news these days, with a very big bill being propounded by the Biden administration, encompassing a variety of things. The interesting thing about the current bill is the breadth of its definition of infrastructure. While I have heard many claim that including so many things in the bill is excessive, I beg to differ. But what is the definition of infrastructure?
1. the system of public works of a country, state or region.
also, the resources (such as personnel, buildings or equipment) required for an activity.
2. the underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization.)
We understand implicitly that infrastructure means public works: roads, railroads, aiports, bridges, etc.
But what is this “underlying foundation or basic framework” of our society? What are its components?
In the bill, broadband for all is considered infrastructure. So is affordable childcare. And well-paid, dependable home aides for the elderly or disabled.
There are also components of the bill meant to reward equitable practices, so that those who have been left out in the past aren’t anymore.
As minor as these components may seem to most of us, we depend on these things, in order for our society to function. These and many other supports of our society are now weak, inadequate, poorly distributed, out of reach or fraying at the edges. We need to fix them, so that they can be robust, trustworthy supports of our economy. So that they work for all of us. So that we as a nation can prosper.
The pandemic has revealed fissures, along which the whole society’s structure can break down. Many of us were unaware that these fissures existed. But the pandemic has made them impossible to ignore.
One, among these many fissures, is the simultaneous, yet bifurcated, role of many women, as both child care providers and workers. Women are often required to do both, even when doing both is impossible, or when doing both requires them to follow two divergent paths, at once.
When I was still working, I would sometimes fantasize about having my own office, where I would employ people. My first instinct as a young woman of child-bearing age (without having any concept of the cost, of course) was to open an office where health insurance was provided, and where child care was available on the premises. Neither of these luxuries were available to me, working in a small law office in the late 1980’s.
Fast forward thirty years, and the companies that offer such luxuries are still few and far between. Women, more often than not, have to fend for themselves.
During the pandemic, when child care and school were in short supply or non-existent, many working women made the drastic financial choice to stay home with their children, at least temporarily. Either attempting to work remotely in that environment (!!!) or quitting work altogether. At a cost to their own career, no doubt.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation study, one-tenth of working mothers with children under 18 quit a job during this time of school closures and at-home learning. The study goes through various aspects of the COVID-19 experience, many of which have affected women disproportionately. These include going without pay, taking unpaid sick leave, doing the bulk of family caregiving, and experiencing increased stress and mental health challenges. Compared to other women workers, COVID conditions have had an even greater impact on women who have low incomes or who work part-time.
As much as we, as Americans, love to brag about our rugged individualism, having everyone fend for themselves doesn’t work so well in times like these. Some segments of our society must put in so much more effort, time, expense and sacrifice, in order to obtain things that many of us take for granted. Why? Well, one reason is lack of infrastructure.
We build infrastructure so that we can ALL surmount common obstacles. If our citizens are suffering, trying to clamber over those obstacles alone, it’s time we gave them a leg up.
Thanks for coming by to read.
Roads and trains and bridges,
Crumbling to the ground:
Perhaps we should be building,
To save our precious town.
The old and the disabled
Need someone at their side:
Perhaps we should pay better
And let them live with pride.
A world without computers is
A relic of the past:
Let everyone have broadband and
The future’s in our grasp.
A snowed-in power outage?
Lead pipes that poison kids?
Let’s build back more resilient,
Improving all that is.
Need research and development?
Then innovate and train!
Because today’s investment is
The Future’s five-fold gain.
What will we leave our children?
At the current rate? Small crumbs!
We can’t ignore the danger, monkeys,
Blind, and deaf, and dumb…
Take out your wallets, countrymen!
Don’t hesitate/think twice!
We either fix this crumbling pile
We pay the price.
Copyright 2021 Andrea LeDew
For an uncomplicated viewpoint on the role of work in life, see Honest Work.
For musings on the difficulties of asking for help for someone with disabilities in your care, and the role of pride, read Asking for Help.