Apocalypse, Ow: Sewage Floods, War Tax, Food Emergencies


Well, the apocalypse is creeping up on us today. Thanks to a tendency to neglect sewer systems and to pave over green spaces that would have soaked up excess rainfall, our sewers are backing up and poisoning our waterways with “untreated or partly treated human waste, chemicals and other hazardous materials,” says the Times. (We saw some of this in Staten Island last month, and upstate last year.) Making the problem worse: unprecedented rainfall, including three “25-year rains” in one year. Cost to fix: $400 billion. Fat chance. Better buy a filter and (in you live on the first floor) a sump pump…

Also underfunded: the war in Afghanistan, or at least Democratic congressman David Obey thinks so, and he’s calling for a “war tax” to pay for it, which Joe Klein supports partly on grounds of “shared sacrifice,” a notion popular among lofty thinkers. Democratic Senator Carl Levin likes the idea but wants it limited to upper-income Americans. If this catches on, we wonder if future wars can be preceded by audits and referenda to see if citizens can, and wish to, pay for them. In fact, why don’t we start with this one?

Oh, and the New York City Coalition Against Hunger says they’re seeing an increase of more than 20 percent in people seeking emergency food over the past year. Families with kids, senior citizens and immigrants lead the parade. They say programs are keeping pace, which is the silver lining; also, when it’s our turn to hit the soup kitchens, we’re likely to find more old friends there with whom to talk over dinner. Also, we’ll maybe finally get to try venison.