22 Jan '16     home | previous

Politics and the Flint Water Crisis

A "depraved Indifference toward Flint" – that is how an editorial in The New York Times today describes the response of government officials to what became the water crisis in Flint Michigan. The 274 pages of emails Michigan's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, released under pressure show, according to the Times, "that members of Mr. Snyder’s administration consistently mocked and belittled the complaints of Flint residents and the evidence gathered by independent researchers.

... For example, various emails showed that state officials dismissed one group of critics as being an “anti-everything group” and accused others of trying to turn the issue of children’s exposure to lead into a “political football.”

Later today the New York Times reported:

A specialist at the federal Environmental Protection Agency began warning the state last February that its testing was probably understating lead levels in Flint’s water, but state officials dismissed those concerns, and the federal officials declined to go public with them. Researchers at Virginia Tech who have looked into the lead poisoning contend that state health officials knew of the lead problem for months but that the Department of Environmental Quality suppressed the information and misled the public.

Someone commented to the Times:

Where was the press? Where was the mayor? Where was the controlling state office? Where was the EPA? Where is leadership? Obama was in his presidential plane going to the nearby Detroit auto show but could care less about this catastrophe. In any other industrial country it is simply unimaginable that poisoning people could continue for two years. Someone would be subject to criminal charges even if it went on a week or two. Where is the soul of the America I used to know?

Someone else:

Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan. These states are the laboratories within which the Tea Party (formerly known as the Republican Party) put their ideologies to the test. The results are clear. We can therefor see what a Tea Party controlled federal government would look like. And we should vote accordingly.

Among the approximately 800 comments, so far, someone tries to go deeper politically:

Our whole economic system is antiquated and barbaric. It is essentially a combination of "survival of the fittest" and "winner take all", promotes greed, and rewards people for doing evil things.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has weighed in:

What’s happened in Flint, Michigan is an absolute travesty. It is a failure at every level of government, a failure of the city officials, a failure of the county officials, and the men and women of Michigan have been betrayed.... There needs to be accountability as to why dirty water, poisoned water was given to a community that did not deserve this.

Donald Trump, who on January 11 promised a “tremendous cutting” of EPA funds if elected president, has described that agency as “really guilty of” the Flint “horror show.”

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.