An open letter from our industry to the new president.

Happy New Year and happy start of a new administration.

It is always exciting to see a new president being sworn into office. Whether you voted for Barack Obama or not doesn’t matter. He is our next president.

Barack’s Illinois home is only about 15 miles, as the crow flies, from where I live. (Driving, it takes about 20 miles to get to his house.) We have eaten in many of the same restaurants. Barack has even been in my hometown a number of times.

For those of us in the Chicago area, we have known Barack Obama for many years. He is not new to us. Even if you don’t agree with his politics, he is a delightful man, and all of us should wish him well.

One of Barack’s platforms has been to end war and bring about world peace. Who couldn’t agree with such an agenda? So since Barack is known for listening to all points of view, I thought it might be best for me to send him an open letter from our industry.
    Dear Mr. President:

    Congratulations on your election. All of us support your efforts to bring about world peace. We also know that you are faced with tough economic times. Those of us in the plumbing profession know, all too well, how tough the economy can be for business.

    While our industry would like to see resurgence in construction, we also support extending our plumbing technology to the rest of the world. However, sometimes that technology is low tech, not high tech.

    What I am talking about is the poor sanitary conditions that are found throughout the world.

    According to the International Codes Council and the World Toilet Organization, every 15 seconds a child dies from waterborne-related diseases. Every 15 seconds!

    The World Toilet Organization further reports that 2.5 billion people do not have access to clean, safe toilets. While the public may chuckle when you mention the word “toilet,” think of the 40 percent of the world’s population that does not have access to this fixture.

    We can help solve two issues with one initiative. First, we can help end the economic crisis. Second, we can be on our way to world peace. All it would take is for the United States to start a massive undertaking by providing safe sanitation throughout the world. We have the safest water, and the best sanitary conditions, of any country in the world. We can help other nations get to that point as well.

    It is hard to believe that nearly 100 years ago less than 3 percent of the U.S. population had access to indoor plumbing on a daily basis. Thanks to the foresight of President Hoover, when he was Secretary of Commerce, indoor plumbing and electricity became a mainstay for every home in this great nation. Imagine if we could do the same for the rest of the world.

    We already have the infrastructure to help start this program. There are thousands of plumbing contractors throughout the United States that would gladly help train future plumbing contractors. Of course, these contractors would have to be compensated for their time. But that would help our economy.

    Our plumbing manufacturers have plants not only in the United States, but all over the globe. They have the capacity to provide the water closets, piping and other fixtures to bring sanitation to all parts of the world. Again, this would help to stimulate the economy by having our plants produce products for use throughout the world.

    Many of our contractors would take overseas employment to help work with local people to get their plumbing infrastructure started. They could start the installations while training the people to take over their roles.

    You may be asking about the world peace part of the equation. People who have access to safe drinking water and sanitary facilities are more at peace. Their basic needs are being met. When they see that such basic necessities can be provided, it is much harder for terrorists and rogue nations to enlist their help. They will see that goodness from a great nation will provide them with water and sanitation. If they continue to move forward, they will prosper, just like we have in the United States.

    It may seem far-fetched, but really it is not. You are a visionary. Just think of the possibilities. Let the plumbing industry assist you in one of the greatest undertakings for world peace. We are just a phone call away, ready to help and serve.

    Cordially yours,
    Julius Ballanco
Don’t count this out. What we are asking is not a pipe dream. Washington has been throwing around large sums of money to bail out the economy. A billion here, a billion there, even talk about a trillion dollars in bailout monies.

Imagine a trillion dollars being thrown our way for proper sanitation. I estimate that we could see more than 800 million toilets added around the world for that amount of money. We would be one-third on our way toward providing everyone with safe, sanitary plumbing.

On the same front, while all of us are struggling in these difficult economic times, if we think of the world as a whole, our struggles are minor compared to others. We still have access to safe drinking water anywhere in this country. Our industry argues over parts per billion of contaminants in the drinking water, while other nations can see the contaminants swimming in theirs. We also take for granted the use of indoor plumbing.

So cheer on the new president. Let’s hope the economy has a turnaround. Finally, let’s think about the rest of the world that doesn’t have access to safe drinking water or indoor water closets. Maybe we can help out our fellow world citizens.