The internet is simultaneously laughing and crying at a new ad campaign by Domino’s offering to fix potholes that “cause irreversible damage to your pizza during the drive home.” That’s right. The pizza chain is literally partnering with towns to fill potholes in exchange for spray-painting their logo on the fresh pavement.
But actually, it’s not that far off from Trump’s infrastructure plan. Just like the president’s proposed corporate giveaway, it’s a photo-op meant to capitalize off of America’s crumbling roads, water pipes, schools, and other physical assets. It’s a sick joke made at the expense of children in Flint, Michigan, and all the people that rely on aging roads and transit to get to work.
Behind the flashy messaging around “rebuilding America,” Trump’s plan — which luckily has stalled thus far in Congress — encourages state and local governments to turn over America’s assets to Wall Street and global corporations. Like in many so-called “public-private partnerships,” private investors would then seek to extract high profits by charging tolls, taxes, and other user fees that would fall disproportionately on working and middle class families.
No wonder the private equity firm Blackstone has partnered with Saudi Arabia to invest $40 billion in privatized American infrastructure. There’s a lot of money to be made if the plan goes through.
That Domino’s is able to joke about our infrastructure crisis is a disturbing sign of the times. Governments at all levels have cut taxes so deeply for corporations and the wealthy in recent years that the rich are the only ones that seem able to afford building and fixing things. We’re in dangerous territory, especially with the recently passed Trump tax cuts. Even conservative hero, the 18th century Scottish philosopher Adam Smith, argued that infrastructure shouldn’t be privatized: the government has the “duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works and certain public institutions, which it can never be for the interest of any individual, or small number of individuals, to erect and maintain.”
If Domino’s really cares about the state of America’s roads, which its delivery drivers rely on, then they should start paying up.
Jeremy Mohler is a writer and communications strategist for In the Public Interest, a nonprofit that advocates for the democratic control of public goods and services. He’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
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