Saturday, January 30, 2016

Don't Send Bottled Water To Flint, Michigan

Filmmaker and Flint, Michigan native Michael
Moore is quite understandably calling for the arrest
of Michigan's governor for allowing the mass
poisoning of Flint through the municipal water system. 
I'd swear, the state government in Michigan really wants to send the city of Flint back to the age of the Flintstones.

They've caused the now notorious problem of causing lead and other pollutants to flow through city residents' tap water in a move to save money and show how conservative they are.

Go Austerity!

You'd think a modern society would ensure everybody gets safe drinking water. Not in Michigan.

So what if a few thousand kids get brain damage from lead? We're fiscally conservative, Yay!

As the crisis intensifies, the administration of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder still seems totally aloof. If poisoning an entire city and seeming not to care doesn't get every American's blood boiling, I don't know what does.

I love the irony in the slogan on Snyder's web site: "Getting it right. Getting it done."


Now, I grant you the headline on this post sounds awfully mean. Don't send bottled water to Flint? Let them drink lead?

After all, the water in Flint is still unsafe, Snyder's administration is clearly not interested in really fixing the problem and Flint's kids face lifelong disabilities because of the lead in the water.

So shouldn't we be sending everybody in Flint clean, safer bottled water instead of forcing them to literally drink poison from their taps?

Well, yes, that's been an OK short term solution. But forcing a city to live on mountains of water bottles is no way to go.  We definitely DO need to give a huge shout out to all the individuals, corporations and celebrities who have sent, or encouraged us to sent lots and lots of bottled water to Flint.

But, enough.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's administration
expected people to drink water that looked like this
in Flint. Maybe we should force him to drink that water? 

I have to agree with none other than Flint, Michigan native Michael Moore who also says it's time to stop sending bottled water.

Moore, the famous guerilla filmmaker, is not being mean to his home town either.

Moore, instead says Michigan needs to dig deep. And fast. The first step is getting that idiot Snyder and his administration out of the way.

Moore compares the Snyder administration to terrorists. To be honest, I think Moore is being rather fair.  Read his words and decide for yourself:

"There's not a terrorist organization on Earth that has yet to figure out how to poison 100,000 people every day for two years - and get away with it. That took a Governor who subscribes to an American political ideology hell-bent on widening the income inequality gap and conducting various versions of voter and electoral suppression against people of color and the poor."

Snyder had appointed "emergency managers" to several financially troubled Michigan communities., including Flint.

These managers reported to Snyder, so local residents and voters had very little say in what went on in their cities.

The many critics of these managers said it disenfranchised voters and the managers were insulated and indifferent to what residents were saying. (If elected officials were in charge, they'd presumably be voted out of office if they ignored voters. Especially ones up in arms about poisoned drinking water. )

And as the New York Times suggested, the worry is and was that "emergency managers are more concerned with fiscal discipline than public health."

Flint would be Example A of that.

Since the Snyder administration seemed so indifferent to the crisis in Flint, Moore wants Snyder kicked out of office and arrested.

I totally agree. Despite his denials and faux expressions of concern, what he did or more accurately, didn't do to Flint is criminal.

As Moore says:

"The perp who allowed the poisoning to continue once he knew something was wrong -- and his minions who cooked the evidence so the public and the feds wouldn't find out, must be removed from office ASAP."

Moore also notes that Snyder says the EPA has no legal authority to tell him what to do with Flint. Really?

Earlier this week, we got news that way back in last January - a year ago! -  Snyder was telling Flint residents the water there was hunky dory and drink up!.

Mother Jones reported Thursday on an email from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget to employees in a state office building in Flint.

"While the city of Flint states that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink. The coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements."

By the "City of Flint" the email pretty much meant the aloof emergency manager appointed by Snyder.

My guess is that the Snyder administration was worried the public employees union would sue if they found out employees were drinking bad water.

Meanwhile, the residents of Flint, mostly African American, and many of them poor, were left to drink the scary water. Brown water for brown people, Governor Snyder?

Moore goes on to say that Snyder, with all his fiscal conservatism, along with previous administrations, did help Michigan develop an  $800 million surplus and $600 million in a rainy day fund. Moore says Snyder should use that money to fix Flint.

Snyder is the face of the state of Michigan broke Flint so he oughta pay for it, goes the logic.

That said, practically nobody, Moore included, doesn't trust Snyder's administration to fix the problem. Like the feds or not, they've got to step in even more.

Other sensible ideas Moore lists are to move people who want to from Flint to nearby districts that have safe water, at government expense. For those who want to stay in Flint, FEMA should set up temporary water supplies at each home.

The rest of us in the United States who are presumably not drinking lead-laced municipal tap water ought to care about Flint a lot.

First of all,it's a national tragedy and a disaster. Second of all, it's a cautionary tale. Yep, we don't want to pay high taxes to fund the government, and we don't like seeing governments waste money.

That is absolutely reasonable.

You need to strike a balance, though, and balance is now seriously lacking in American politics. Some Republicans, in particular, seem to be in a contest to see how badly they can screw over people without a lot of power. For fun and profit, I guess. Especially profit.

You know, African-Americans, Hispanics, poor people. OK, don't give these groups free hand outs. But don't take your hand and slap them across the face either.

As Slate points out, there's a lot of municipalities out there with marginalized population with aging infrastructure. Flint probably won't be the last town in the country to find out it has been poisoned. There's no political will, no desire to fix old pipes and other fixtures before its too late for residents.

I guess turning America into a Third World country is now political palatable, which is another real tragedy here.

In Michigan, Snyder's administration thought saving money was more important than protecting health and public safety. Maybe he thought if he caused brain damage to the voters of Flint, they'd be too stupid to vote against him in the next election.

But as Rachel Maddow's Town Meeting show in Flint demonstrated the other night, there are a lot of smart people in Flint.

Who won't take being victimized by some self serving politicians.

Are there others politicians like him across the nation?  If so, I hope we have the gumption to rise up against them, too.


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