The creation of dependable clean water systems is one of our greatest and least recognized urban accomplishments. Unrecognized, that is, unless something goes terribly wrong. But such incidents are exceedingly rare, and hundreds of millions of Americans can trust the safety of their drinking water. For this, we can thank government.
If you’ve never had tuberculosis, smallpox, or polio, if you live in a healthier environment than your great-grandparents could ever have imagined, if you have reasonable hopes for vaccines for AIDS and Covid-19, you can thank government for these things.
If you’ve ever gone to a festival or concert in a city park, taken a walk on a pedestrian trail, or played basketball or hopscotch on a playground, you can thank government for making these urban spaces available.
If you have never had to use an outhouse, walk ankle-deep in garbage, or endure incredible stench, you can thank local governments that created massive sewer systems, bought landfills and built incinerators, and fielded an army of sanitation workers to make our lives healthier.