At one time it almost seemed as if there was a line, albeit a very fine line, that Republicans were unwilling to cross to provide wealth to corporations and their rich donors. Now, it is beyond refute that no matter how bad a state’s economy is starved for operating revenue, or how dangerous a state government’s austerity-for-people, and wealth for the rich is, Republicans predictably treat “the people” like chattel with no regard whether they live or die. While all the attention is focused on Flint Michigan and the deliberate poisoning of roughly 100,000 mainly African Americans’ water supply, there is a similar ongoing catastrophe in Detroit. It is what happens when Republicans abolish democracy to impose trickle down economics and severe austerity on citizens.
By now a few Americans may have heard that the Flint water contamination crisis began in 2014 when Governor Rick Snyder appointed a mini-dictator to run the city and promptly switched the water supply to the long-known and heavily-polluted Flint River. The unelected “emergency manager” doing Snyder’s corporate bidding, one Darnell Earley, was given incontrovertible authority to save the state money to provide billions in tax cuts to Snyder’s wealthy donors; corporations and the rich. If anyone thought Snyder had learned from the tragedy in Flint, one he knew about shortly after it began in 2014, they would be mistaken. Instead of relieving Earley of his role as dictator for poisoning 20 – 30 thousand children and terminate his position, Snyder just re-assigned Earley to take over and run the Detroit Public Schools.
Apparently, Snyder saw his emergency manager’s success in poisoning up to 30,000 mainly African American children and decided why not try to double that number in Detroit. Now, the reason this is a racial issue as much as an austerity only for the poor matter is because all but one of the areas Snyder declared democracy is dead is primarily populated by African Americans. African Americans make up 82 percent of Detroit’s population, and close to 60,000 of that population attend Detroit’s public school system. It is a school system so starved for funding to preserve big business’ tax cuts that they are unable to ameliorate a deadly toxin growing unchecked in the schools.
One of the primary issues, and there are many, is that teachers, health officials, parents, and school administrators have complained loudly that, besides stealing education money to fund tax cuts, their classrooms are rife with another deadly toxin rivaling lead: black mold. To make sure that Republicans get the biggest bang for their austerity buck, Detroit classrooms are home to 45-50 students per class. The typical Republican argument is that they just cannot possibly afford to adequately fund education, or remove a deadly toxin from the schools, and if 60 thousand children and their teachers are poisoned, that is the price Republicans are willing to pay for austerity to fund tax breaks for the rich.
The detrimental effects of black mold are about a hundred times more numerous than lead, but they are nonetheless as toxic and can affect, especially, children and teachers for the rest of their lives. Black mold, considered a deadly toxin, causes serious symptoms and health problems such as mental and neurological impairment, respiratory problems, it permanently damages internal organs and can cause death. In fact, there is no part of the human body that the toxin does not affect whether it is the skin, the eyes, the brain, immune system, reproductive system, and is highly suspected of causing cancer. On some level it makes Snyder’s deliberate lead poisoning look like a case of mild indigestion.
Detroit’s school teachers are so up-in-arms over Snyder’s emergency manager and his “austerity for education and the poor” that this week they staged a series of sickouts to protest the massive underfunding of the public schools that are rife with black mold, rat infestations, crumbling buildings and woefully inadequate staffing. The unfortunate truth is that no matter how outraged, or sick, the teachers, health officials, impotent school boards or administrators are, they are powerless to stop Snyder or his now-literal “hit-man.”
It is what is expected when Republicans abolish democracy in an effort to provide more money for the rich; all of Snyder’s emergency dictators have ultimate authority to cut services to save the state money to fund tax cuts for the rich. It is noteworthy that although the emergency managers are culpable for myriad moral and ethical atrocities, they are not acting unilaterally and in a pathetic sense are simply doing as ordered.
As an investigative reporter for the ACLU in Michigan said, these mounting health catastrophes are precisely what happens when a Republican gives an unelected “emergency manager extreme unchecked authority” to execute a typically Republican plan. In Snyder’s case, he tasked emergency managers with “imposing severe austerity on an entire racial and economic class by eliminating the democratic checks and balances that make a democracy functional.”
Without a functioning democracy, Snyder knew that he could transfer a ‘lackey’ who poisoned Flint children to Detroit to poison even more poor African American children. It is little wonder that African Americans do not support Republicans because as a Koch-ALEC corporate puppet, Snyder is proving what any conscious American already knows; Black lives, especially young Black lives, do not matter to Republicans.