As I write this, I have a fresh glass of ice cold water sitting next to me.
It is so clear I can see the wood grain of the the table through it. When I put it to my mouth, my lips almost go numb from the cold.
I gulp down way more than I should. In moments, it seems, the glass is empty.
Nothing satisfies like a crisp simple glass of water.
But in Flint, Michigan, that straightforward, easy pleasure can kill you.
And-or poison your children, cause learning disabilities, hearing loss, vomiting, high blood pressure, pain or numbness in the extremities, infertility or miscarriage. Among a host of other equally terrible maladies.
From the water.
Nine months ago the state officials who took over running Flint because the city was just too darn poor for self government, they shut off the flow of already treated Lake Huron water from Detroit. They replaced it with untreated raw water from the Flint River. The plan was to save money by treating this water, themselves, from a source that had been continually polluted for decades by the disappearing auto industry.
However, this noxious brew corroded the pipes, stripped out the lead and put it right into the water glasses Flint parents were using to hydrate their children.
More than 8,500 children. With high amounts of lead in their blood. Suffering untold injuries. For life.
Oh and the overwhelming majority of them are African American and/or impoverished. Whoops!
Gov. Rick Snyder has been defensively apologizing for this disaster. He knew all about it long before the taps were shut off. He even released a slew of inter-office emails about the situation where officials play pass-the-buck as Flint residents gulp down this filth from their faucets. As citizens complained about the water’s color and odor. As physicians protested it wasn’t safe for human consumption.
Even now Snyder STILL says people can safely bathe their children in this dirty, smelly, poisoned water. Just make sure the kiddos don’t drink it. In fact, he says he wouldn’t mind bathing his own grandchildren in this mess.
Yeah. Kinda takes away any sincerity from his “apology” and his statement that he’s responsible, doesn’t it?
Why isn’t this man in jail? Why is he still in the Governor’s mansion?
If we lived in a just country, this poor excuse for a human being would AT VERY LEAST be locked away in a dungeon somewhere never to sting our eyes at the sight of his repulsive face. A more appropriate punishment would be making him drink nothing but his own contaminated Flint tap water for the rest of his life as he suffers from the effects of lead poisoning – like all those thousands of children he helped poison to save a few bucks.
But no. In the America where we live, his only mistake was getting caught. And now he’s losing political points having to apologize without really doing much. Yeah, he’s called in the National Guard to help deliver bottled water. Yeah, he’s turned back on the Lake Huron water, but Flint’s pipes are already ruined so lead is still leaking into the water. Why are these poor people still being charged with a water bill for something they can’t use? No one except for Grandpa Rick Snyder would use this foul stuff for anything!
Meanwhile, Darnell Earley, the emergency manager appointed by Snyder who actually switched Flint’s water in the first place is at a new government job. He’s emergency manager of another Michigan public service – Detroit Public Schools! Dilapidated buildings, fungus growing on the walls, slime leaking from the ceiling, broken toilets – a state-provided learning environment overseen by this functionary who’s doing a heckuva job! Teachers trying to raise awareness of the situation have staged a series of “sickouts.” But Snyder’s administration still doesn’t have any money to waste on Detroit school kids – just like it didn’t have any money to provide potable water to Flint residents.
And the cycle continues. Crap gets flushed from one source to another – and I’m not talking about the Flint water system!
You can try to make justifications and excuses, but the lie gets awfully thin in Michigan. And if you think this is the only place where business trumps public welfare, you must be drinking from Snyder’s water cooler. Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, the entire island of Puerto Rico! Terrorists with government jobs are slowly dismantling our metropolitan areas, our public goods, everything that made America great!
And what the heck is being done about it? A lot of news stories, talking heads shaking their noggins and pointing their fingers everywhere except where the blame really lies.
It’s enough to drive one to drink.
Speaking of which, excuse me while I take another swig from my water glass.
No, I don’t live in Flint. But this sure isn’t tap water. Are you kidding me?
In Pennsylvania we’ve had too many scares with Giardiasis and other bacteria in our municipal water occasionally making us sick.
I pay extra to bring this water to the house in huge jugs and put it on a machine that keeps it ice cold and refreshing anytime of the day or night.
Some people can’t afford it.
What are they to do?
Can anyone really feel safe drinking from the tap ever again?
What kind of a world is it where we can’t even trust the water?
What kind of world are we leaving for our children?
We are all a few months from becoming Flint.
It could already be happening.