It’s only August, and so far this year the New York subways have flooded, a Manhattan steam pipeline blew up, a major bridge collapsed in Minnesota, wildfires rage in western states, Kansas has suffered flooding and tornadoes, and hurricane season has just begun.

It is hard to understand why, in the world’s richest country, it has taken the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nearly three years since Hurricane Ivan hit to clean up one creek in the Pittsburgh area, where the delay nearly destroyed an entire town. Local volunteers, working by hand, could have cleaned up the creek in that time.

Or is that the point? Is the point that if New Yorkers want steam power or mass transit, they have to grab that home repair kit and fix it themselves? If motorists want safe bridges and roads, they should call Home Depot? Round up the Cub Scout troop?

With federal investment — our tax dollars — those hard-hit Kansans would have had adequate tornado warning and would not still be pleading with their neighbors to help restore their communities. With federal policy based on science instead of ideology, the West would not have to worry about burning down, and New Orleans would be celebrating the return of Ninth Ward residents with a grand party.

Change, though, is seeping through the country. The politics of go-it-alone and public disinvestment is slowly being replaced by the politics of collective action and publicly funded and controlled solutions to complicated crises.

Politics and elections are the avenue to pick up the pace of change, taking into account the realities of global warming, decaying infrastructure and economic insecurity. Organizing, taking the message to the streets and congressional offices, is the heart of the people’s agenda for 2008.

The corporate agenda? They are going to have to stand in line. Our priority is bringing New Orleans back for all its people, getting New York’s pipes rebuilt, making Kansans safe, seeing the West turn green, ensuring Pennsylvanians are dry and highway and mass transit systems confident. Corporate profits will have to bow to these American priorities.