Rick Snyder is upset that Hilary Clinton is “politicizing” the Flint water crisis. He is upset at her cruel, cruel words. He did not comment on the even crueler words of Bernie Sanders calling upon him to resign. It is wrong to politicize events beyond the control of elected officials such as natural disaster but the Flint water disaster is natural only if you consider the Governor and his decision making natural and I do not. For at every single turn from the decision to change Flint’s water to the lies told the public about the water and finally the refusal to take action until weeks after the city declared a state of emergency, the responsibility rests in the hands of Governor Rick Snyder.
Snyder set up a system where bankrupt municipalities were seized and run as feudal provinces by a direct appointee of the Governor. The Governor’s choice to run the city decided to save a few million dollars by changing the source of the city’s water. When the city residents and the city officials complained, they were ignored. When the complaints grew in size and seriousness, the people of Flint were deliberately lied to. The agencies of the state government tasked with protecting the citizens concealed evidence and lied about the danger. Only when the evidence became overwhelming did the Governor take action.
And now, now at the last moment when the damage is done – when thousands of children have been exposed to forbidden levels of lead in their water, Rick Snyder is now doing something for the people of Flint, years too late to cure the results of his own decision making. And when he gets called on his actions, on his decisions and often his lack of them, he says we shouldn’t politicize the issue.
It is a political issue. It is the result of political decisions by Rick Snyder and the city managers he appointed. And when you have a political issue, you solve it by political means.
Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are not politicizing crisis. They are talking about a political crisis, a crisis of judgment in government. It is fair game. No lead laden meteorite struck Flint. No storm commingled sewage and fresh water. The city manager appointed by Governor Rick Snyder decided to use a contaminated water supply to save money. That’s politics.
Like the Wizard of Oz, Snyder is asking us to ignore that man behind the curtain. But that man failed to act when his citizens were being harmed by lead contaminated water. That man is very much the center of this story. And whether or not the Governor now gets it and is now delivering clean water and testing kits is irrelevant.
It was the willingness to consider democracy an unfortunate obstacle in the way of an efficient government that is at the root of the problem. Flint could have continued with its elected government, that government, an elected government responsible and living among their own citizens, were hardly likely to have poisoned their children to save money. But the State acting through the office of the Governor seized control of the city and ran it with only one priority in mind, to squeeze as much money as humanly possible out of the municipality.
Snyder was imposing a corporate ethos on a city in a democracy. The bottom line is everything in a corporate environment. In a city, the lives and health of children get higher priority. When those priorities collided, which one prevailed? The corporate ones. — “So the water tastes bad? Get used to it.”
This is the United States and the people are supposed to have redress of grievances. Their local government rendered irrelevant and ignored, the people of Flint had nowhere to turn.
And this may be the future of all us. The corporate ethos is invading every part of law and decision making. If the bottom line is all that matters – if, as in this case, avoiding bankruptcy was the only goal, then of what importance are your lives, your jobs and the welfare of your families?
Take a look at the children of Flint. Their ordeal is just beginning. The consequences of lead poisoning are permanent and incurable.
Please read below from the New York Times –
During Sunday’s debate, Clinton said “every single American should be outraged” by the water crisis, adding that “if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would have been action.”
“We’re going to keep working on putting solutions in place,” Snyder told The Detroit News. “And what I would say is politicizing the issue doesn’t help matters. Let’s focus in on the solution and how to deal with the damage that was done and help the citizens of Flint and make Flint a stronger community.”