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What Really Poisoned The Water In Flint, Michigan

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What Really Poisoned The Water In Flint, Michigan

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Ariana Hawk, 25, is the single mother of three children under the age of ten living in Flint, Mich.

The mantra of every Koch-headed, right-wing politico is that government should be run like a business, always focused on cutting costs.

Welcome to Flint, Michigan. This impoverished, mostly African-American city has indeed been run like a private corporation since Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appointed his “emergency manager” to seize control of Flint’s heavily indebted local government. Snyder’s coup d’etat usurped the people’s democratic voice and effectively imposed a corporate-style autocracy over them, run by his unelected CEO-like manager who answers only to Snyder.

Flint’s emergency manager holds authoritarian budgetary power and is focused not on serving the people but on the bottom line. His mandate from the governor was to slash costs ruthlessly, so bankers and other holders of the city’s debt could be paid off. Snyder was delighted that his appointed czar proved to be an enthusiastic slasher, including a cleaver move in 2014 to cut a couple million dollars from the budget by shifting the source of the city’s drinking water from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

Sure, some scaredy-cats worried about contaminants in that river, but Snyder’s health officials pooh-poohed them — and, besides, the beauty of one-man rule is that you can ignore the people and take bold, decisive action. That’s what corporate CEOs do, and even if there is some collateral damage, it’s the bottom line that matters.

But — oops — the bottom line of thinking you can simply apply corporate methods and ethics to public responsibilities is that very bad things can happen. In this case, Flint’s water supply is contaminated with lead, its entire infrastructure of water pipes needs to be replaced, thousands of the city’s children may be permanently impaired by lead poisoning … and Snyder’s name is mud.

Not that Gov. Snyder personally dumped lead and other toxins into Flint’s water, but by dumping his small-minded, budget-whacking policies on the people of this largely poor, largely minority community, he did, in fact, poison them. Worse, when Flint’s families immediately and loudly complained that their tap water was oddly colored, nasty tasting, stinky and causing rashes on their children, Snyder and his top officials did nothing. Nothing!

For a year and a half, the governor’s team denied there was a problem, even when residents showed jugs of the brownish liquid to the media and to officials. It’s a myth, claimed the authorities, accusing locals of “trying to turn (the issue) into a political football” and asserting that the complainers were just being finicky about the aesthetics of their water.

Aesthetics? A General Motors factory in Flint had to quit using the water because it was corroding metal engine parts, and a hospital stopped using the water because it was damaging its medical instruments!

Finally, after out-of-state toxicity experts confirmed that Flint’s water constitutes a major public health emergency, Snyder and crew were forced to switch from denial to damage control. He has since apologized to Flint residents and is trying to save face (and his job) by promising to “fix” the mess he made.

The mess is not just in the water, however. Flint reveals that there is a much deeper contamination poisoning our country’s political morals: namely, an insidious right-wing belief that poor people (particularly people of color who are poor) are underserving moochers whose misfortunes can be ignored — even when their misfortunes stem directly from the discriminatory practices of slippery elites like Snyder. This example in Flint proves once again that government can’t be run like a corporation, as a corporation exists to profit only a few, not serve the many. Despite the shallow sloganeering of ideologues, government has to be run … well, like a government.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

Photo: Ariana Hawk, 25, is the single mother of three children under the age of ten living in Flint, Mich., with her mother. She bathes her middle child Sincere Smith, 2, who is unable to bathe with tap water. He is suffering from a breakouts all over his body that his mother believes are a reaction to the contaminated water. She must use bottled water to wash him daily. (Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

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Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a nationally syndicated columnist and one of America's most prominent progressive voices. His column carried by more than 75 publications across the country. Prior to becoming a writer, Hightower served as Texas Agricultural Commission from 1982 to 1991.

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29 Comments

  1. 1standlastword February 3, 2016

    The next statewide disaster is already baking in the oven of idiotic republican policy making.

    Snyder and his administration of chowder heads are positioning to raise the speed limits on Michigan’s broken up highways that won’t get badly needed repairs for another two years

    How much more evidence do people need to see that giving republicans power is akin to giving a baby a fully loaded machine gun

    Reply
    1. stcroixcarp February 4, 2016

      Correction–giving a terrorist a loaded machine gun

      Reply
  2. Otto Greif February 3, 2016

    Hey goober, why was it necessary to appoint an emergency manager?

    Reply
    1. 1standlastword February 3, 2016

      Good Grief Otto…for one Ram you are one dumb Goat!

      The point could be made that the EM was suppose to avoid an emergency not cause one. No one is making a case for why there is an EM except the Goats among us!

      Can I get you some warm cabbage?

      Reply
      1. Otto Greif February 3, 2016

        It’s a simple question.

        Reply
        1. stcroixcarp February 4, 2016

          Simple, ya sure.

          Reply
    2. RED February 4, 2016

      It wasn’t necessary moron? It’s amazing to see how stupid you can frigging be? And it’s pretty clear to see your moronic intentions. And hey if you ever quit being a moron than maybe we could actually talk about what put Flint in debt and the real problems. But alas, you’re an idiot and are far too stupid to deal in reality!

      Reply
  3. idamag February 3, 2016

    The governor taking over the city and, in spite of officials being elected by the people, he pulled a fascist trick right out of hitler’s playbook.

    Reply
    1. itsfun February 4, 2016

      He got the ability to name a emergency by ignoring the will of the people. Being able to appoint a emergency manager was voted down by the citizens of Michigan in a election. The Governor than used his lame duck legislature to pass a law allowing him to do just that. Why would anyone in Michigan even bother to vote when the Governor can just find ways to completely ignore their vote. Snyder should have been removed years ago.

      Reply
      1. charleo1 February 4, 2016

        I never thought I would say this. But I apologize for my thoughts about you at times. You can write a great post. Especially when it agrees with me!

        Reply
        1. itsfun February 4, 2016

          Its okay to disagree with each other. That is one of the great things about our country. I just don’t like all the name calling. I now have 2 people that I don’t even bother to read their responses to me. I just delete their posts to me when I see their ids. You have a great day and hope for a early spring.

          Reply
      2. Paul Bass February 4, 2016

        2 thumbs up Itsfun, I agree.

        Reply
  4. Paragryne February 4, 2016

    Republican ideology kills.

    Reply
  5. charleo1 February 4, 2016

    My wife says I need to stop using the word stupid when referring to those misguided, and woefully mistaken tools, and complacent doormats of whore politicians like Rick Snyder. And, in as much as I love my wife, I’m trying. But what other word so succinctly hits the nail squarely on the head if one is describing a person that could look at Flint, look at the Deep Water Horizon, the Iraq War, At all the grief caused to American families by the economic crisis, the decisions of a Supreme Court majority duly appointed by Right Wing Lap Dogs like Bush, and Reagan, and still blindly continue to support this collection of bought out worthless, corporate frontmen, and heartless liars, masquerading as public servants? But you can’t fix stupid they say. If they do, I promise I’ll quit using the word.

    Reply
    1. stcroixcarp February 4, 2016

      It isn’t stupidity that caused the problems you cited. It was greed, callous indifference to human beings. It is the sociopathic nature of the corporate driven right wing political machine.

      Reply
      1. charleo1 February 4, 2016

        That’s all very true of the RW Politicians. But they didn’t get to where they were able to impose all that sociopathy, and corporate greed on the country, without some very stupid people buying into the barrel of easily disprovable claptrap they’re peddling. The ultimate credit has to go to the stupidity of callous dolts who ask, why should I care, if it’s not my water, or my job being outsourced, or my kid that’s hungry? The stupidity of those who say, I want my water clean, but I don’t think regulations are really necessary. Let’s let a bunch of jerks paid off by the oil and chemical companies decide about that. The comfortable retiree that says, I like my pension the union I belonged to negotiated for me. But I’m pretty sure we ought to get rid of all unions, so U.S. workers can be more competitive with the wages, and benefits of the Third World. You know that kind of stupid? The kind that demands that gov. keep their filthy thieving hands off my Medicare! That demand the Federal Gov. butt out of their State’s business, until a disaster strikes. A giant oil spill needs cleaning up, the banks in their towns are going belly up, or levies are collapsing, and their beach house looks to be the first to go. Then, it’s a whole other story. And they’re too stupid to see the hypocrisy of it all.

        Reply
    2. CrankyToo February 4, 2016

      I hate to disagree with the Mrs., but when it comes to expressing justifiable outrage, sometimes you have to avail yourself of every tool in the lexicon.

      And sometimes, even that’s not enough.

      Reply
      1. charleo1 February 4, 2016

        As I might have told my wife. I tell my wife nothing, by the way. I suggest, implore, beg, etc… I’ll tell her you said it! I’m not stupid!

        Reply
        1. CrankyToo February 4, 2016

          They don’t bury the scared…

          Reply
  6. mary beardslee February 4, 2016

    mary beardslee General Mts. complained a year and 1/2 ago to Snyder that the Flint water was causing corrosion to their body parts. Snyder quietly hooked GM back up to Lake Huron water to the tune of $400,000.

    Reply
  7. jamcrky February 4, 2016

    Should have made Snyder and his family drink the water, they claim was safe.

    Reply
  8. RED February 4, 2016

    I frigging hate the Cons!! I really do! The really dumb ones I feel a slight sympathy for, but I still hate them. How can you not hate people that are very close to destroy the habitability of the planet? Every day Gov Snyder walks free is a day that the United States has become a failed State.

    Reply
    1. 788eddie February 4, 2016

      I think you’re being grossly unfair toward other people just because they are naturally ignorant, greedy and hateful.

      Reply
  9. 1Zoe55 February 4, 2016

    Quoting Mitt Romney during his failed presidential campaign: “But corporations are people my friend.” Too bad that corporate greed takes over because can anyone imagine what would have happened if Flint had been a white, middle to upper class group? This situation is why we need stronger, more effective oversight by federal agencies such as the EPA, an agency that failed the people of Flint. EPA should have the power to block the Emergency Manager and this governor’s attempts to save money on the backs of its poorest citizens.

    Reply
  10. itsfun February 4, 2016

    I think the problem was caused by incompetence. Incompetence can be fixed and must be fixed ASAP. People can die and get terrible health problems from this. A problem I have though is even, I as a ordinary citizen knew about this problem last summer. How in the world can Gov. Snyder say he just found out about the problem. That is just like Obama saying he found out about problems watching TV or reading about them.

    Reply
  11. Pamby50 February 4, 2016

    On top of that, they are still billing the residents to pay for that water that is not usable.

    Reply
  12. oldfed February 4, 2016

    Gosh who has primary responsibility for our drinking water??? According to Barak the EPA controls our water our air. Until something goes wrong then its W’s fault

    Reply
  13. Joseph Leslie February 25, 2016

    oldfed: evidently you have been drinking Flint’s water! Remember how “Rick Santorum” was going to drink fracking water to show that it was safe (he never did!)” You are showing brain damage symptoms consistent with advanced lead poisoning! You should quickly be autopsied and the results will help others who are suffering from the same condition!

    Reply

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