“I think the government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem and very often makes the problem worse.” -Milton Friedman
This week brought to us over two years since one of America’s worst natural disasters occurred — The Flint Water Crisis. For those of you that don’t quite understand what this is about and why it is one of the worst events we’ve had in this country, let’s rewind and do a quick overview.
Two years ago Michigan’s state government decided to save the state of Michigan some money (in the water area of all places: MAJOR eye roll) and decided to switch Flint’s water supply to the Flint River, which residents described at the time as “filthy”. Do you see where the first problem lies? Yea. So after residents finally came to grips that this was indeed not a joke, but an imminent reality, they tried their best to explain why such a decision would be harmful. You would think the state government would listen seeing as though typically locals know the land area and its resources better than those not familiar with it. But the state decided to go along with the plan anyways…doesn’t sound quite like the government our founding fathers had in mind, huh? Apparently the switch was only supposed to be temporary while a new connection to Lake Huron (the city’s previous water connection) was in production. That transfer was to be completed in two years. I’m guessing the switch back never happened. It didn’t take long before residents started noticing their water looked, smelled and tasted differently. Residents described it as “dirty”. The state Department of Environmental Quality failed to treat Flint’s water with the required anti-corrosive agent, which by the way is a violation of Federal law. This caused the water to erode, thus making it turn brown and develop a funny taste and smell.
This has been the situation for over two years now. I’m upset at myself because I didn’t become aware of it up until a few months ago. One of the my personal biggest mysteries besides God and it’s existence, is how any human beings can’t have access to clean water. On a global level, it intrigued me to research and look up videos of efforts by those fully committed to making access to clean water a new normal. It even inspired me to give the few extra coins I have to charities that fund underdeveloped countries with filters. Not once did I ever think the country I grew up in, the richest nation in the world, would ever have a situation as close to that and move so lazily about it. When I see a Governor point the finger at the level of government above the state instead of taking responsibility for his own doings and moving with a certain level of assertion to correct it, upsets me. When I see politicians make this into a political charade and not the human rights crisis that it is, I get upset. The fact is that Flint is predominantly black and 40% of its residents are considered “poor”. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that had this been a majority white city, that this would have never happened, because everything would have been done as expected. Or if it had happened, all levels of government would have jumped on the ball and gotten relief much sooner. It’s no secret. If you matter, you’ll be taken care of. For example, General Motor’s Flint factory was given a special hookup on clean water. After the water was found to be causing their car parts to corrode. The big wigs went to the Governor and explained to him how his move was ruining their products. The Governor quietly set aside over $400,000 to hook up the car maker back to the old, clean water connection. Leaving the rest of the city to suffer.
What upsets me the most is that we have children drinking this water. If the thought of children, the most innocent subjects in all of this, drinking that poisoned water doesn’t fire something up inside of you, then something is severely wrong. And what’s even worse about the Flint crisis is that it’s brought to our attention an ever-growing accountability problem within our systems of government. These are our citizens, our family members, friends, etc. drinking this water and we’re letting government officials, SWORN public servants, off easy. As a public servant, your job is to protect and serve the public and represent their interests. Not testing the water to check if it’s safe for drinking is a serious human rights violation. I believe that Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder should not be removed from his place in office, not yet anyways. Make him do his job, fix the mistakes, and fulfill the promise he made to his citizens when he took an oath. Then he can be removed and banned from ever being in a position to govern. Trying to save the state some money on one of the most important aspects of our society will, in the long run, cost Michigan waaaaaaaaay more than they could ever imagine. Around $800,000,0o0 is what it would cost to replace Flint’s water structure. Unofficially slighting your citizens has a healthy price tag. And I hope all that played a role in this awful decision, are dealt with in the correct manner.
I’m long over seeing communities of color suffer from the laziness of those that are “in charge”. From our politicians to our policemen, our lives aren’t seen in the same light or as the same value as our white neighbors. America can put the Flint Water Crisis next to D***** T**** becoming a serious contender for President as the biggest L’s it’s taken this decade. I want my country to care about every single life, regardless of color, age, sexuality, income class, etc. as I do. Let this be a lesson, that while we as a country are making great gains, we still have tragedies like this that remind us that we have so much more work to do on the human rights front. When the basics aren’t being fulfilled, such as access to clean water, schools with decent classrooms (both problems in the state of Michigan), and etc. it’s clear we have so much more work to do. I will use my voice and whatever other resources to make sure we make the progress that we need. I hope you will, too.