Saturday, January 16, 2016

Republicans Poison Flint Citizens To Save Money

This is the level of lead in Detroit water -- the water Flint was buying before Michigan's governor intervened.

This is the level at which lead becomes a concern according to health officials.

This is the level of lead found in 90% of the homes in Flint now.

The other 10% of Flint homes have a much higher level, some as much as displayed above.

Flint (Michigan) used to be a booming city. But the city depended largely on the automotive industry -- and when the auto industry moved out (many times to plants in other countries), Flint began to suffer. Unemployment skyrocketed, and that affected many of the city's businesses. By 2011, the city was in deep financial trouble. The state of Michigan took over, and the Republican governor ordered cuts in city expenses.

But it soon became obvious that the Republicans doing the cutting didn't bother to take the safety of Flint citizens into account. They decided that the purchase of clean Lake Huron water from Detroit was too expensive -- and the city should start getting its water from the Flint River.

The problem was that the water in that river was filled with toxic waste (after years of industry dumping waste into it). And to make matters worse, some of those chemicals in the river water caused lead to be leached from the city pipes into the water going to citizen homes. That means the city's water consumers were being poisoned by the lead in their water -- receiving between five times the level considered dangerous to hundreds of times that amount.

This lead poisoning affects everyone, but is even more acute for children -- causing sickness, stunting intellectual growth, and causing behavioral problems. And there is no cure. This lead poisoning will affect the city of Flint far into the future.

It could and should have been prevented. The governor and his GOP cohorts are claiming they didn't know this would happen. But they should have known. The city's citizens knew the water wasn't fit to drink, which is why they were buying water from Detroit. And state officials could have known if they had just spent a few hundred dollars testing the water. But they didn't, and it took them months to realize it, even though city consumers complained very quickly after the change.

Making matters even worse, the citizens are being charged exorbitant prices for the tainted water (with water bills easily topping a hundred dollars a month).

Government is supposed to protect the people it serves, regardless of the cost of doing so. But Republicans want to run government like a business -- cutting costs even when it endangers the people they serve (like happened in Flint). This is common for Republicans, who consider money more important than people. It's inexcusable, and probably should be considered criminal.

Flint is just the most obvious example of this GOP indifference to the safety of citizens. Republicans are cutting costs across the nation (and in Washington) with no regard being given to the people they are hurting. It's just one more reason why they must be voted out of office in the next election.


  1. They should have known?

    The DID know!

    And they ignored it...this is what happens when your ideology worships money.

  2. Thank you for getting this out there even more. A few minor corrections. Afaik, river water is naturally more corrosive than lake water, no one has mentioned toxic waste as a problem. In fact, Lansing uses river water as well. The problem is that it needs a simple additive to make it safe. It costs Lansing $250 a DAY, not 250 million or thousand, just $259. Flint is smaller, so they would have needed to spend $100 a day. They didn't.
    Second, the real problem is that the river water didn't contain lead itself. If so it would be a tragedy, but one that could be limited by switching back to Lake Huron water -- as Flint, in fact did in September. The corrosiveness of the river water ate away the lining on the old pipes that kept the lead 'sequestered.' Now, even if they ran distilled water through those pipes, by the time it came out the tap it would have dangerous levels of lead. Which means that they have to change every single pipe in Flint to make the tap water safe again.
    The estimated cost of that, btw, is $1.5 Billion -- for one of the poorest cities in the country. And one problem is that, due to a quirk in Michigan law -- that was repealed in a referendum, but then reinstituted in such a way it became referendum-proof -- Flint had been taken over by a City Manager appointed by the Governor -- actually a series of them, they are on #5 now, I think -- and the officials the city elected were reduced to an advisory capacity. I have yet to see how, legally, the responsibility is split between the city -- that actually did nothing wrong -- and the state.
    One additional problem that will last a looooong time. Flint is a poor city, which meant that companies assumed, not unfairly, that someone who came from Flint probably had poor schooling to begin with, so they were less likely to be hired. But now, with people understanding the effects of lead poisoning, and people panicing and preferring 'safe' to 'sorry' --how likely is it that anyone who ever lived in Flint would get hired. (Sure they moved away years before, or were born after the crisis finally gets fixed, are people going to make such nuanced selection or just toss applications with the words 'Flint, Michigan' on them.)
    Thanks for getting this out, and hopefully anyone who reads this will help the story grow. One thing you had ABSOLUTELY right, that this is the ultimate example of Republican cost-cutting, service-cutting, tax-cutting economics, and not a single Republican candidate for ANYTHING should escape questions about it.

  3. SO I told the rePUKEians are the best!!! THey are the best at getting us killed!!!


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