It seems that every month or so Americans learn of yet another Republican-governed state facing revenue and budget shortfalls due to tax cuts for the rich. Of course in Republicans’ minds, when money is in short supply because the rich and corporations receive outrageous tax cuts, the only option is imposing more cuts on the people regardless the adverse effects; in Michigan the adverse effect is poisoning poor communities with neurotoxin-laden water.
In the real world, any American who deliberately poisons another human being is arrested, prosecuted and sent to prison. It is time for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to face the “real world” consequences for poisoning tens-of-thousands of Michigan residents to preserve tax cuts for the rich.
The Michigan poisoning began after an Snyder appointed an unelected emergency dictator who switched the city’s water source to the long-polluted Flint River in a bid to save money as the state faces yet another budget shortfall due to corporate tax cuts.
Lead in human beings, especially young human beings, causes permanent health impacts including memory loss and developmental impairment. While Snyder was protecting corporate tax cuts close to a year ago, researchers at Virginia Tech began testing Flint water and now say the city could have corrected the problem at a cost of as little as $100 a day. Last Thursday, the mayor of Flint revealed it could now cost as much as $1.5 billion to fix the city’s water infrastructure; a $1.5 billion fix American taxpayers will fund.
A year ago when Flint residents began complaining about the poisoned water, Snyder’s Republicans were facing a half-a-billion dollar budget shortfall due to corporate tax cuts expected to reach between $1.6 and $3.2 billion. Numbers that will certainly drive the state farther into the red and mean more cuts to services for Michigan residents; likely including switching another 100,000 residents’ water supply so they too can drink, cook, and bathe in toxic water.
Even though Flint residents have complained about the water for a year, Snyder finally acted and declared a state of emergency; but only after learning federal prosecutors had opened an investigation into the deliberate lead poisoning. The poisoning began when an unelected emergency dictator, appointed by Snyder, switched Flint’s water to a poisoned source to save money to cover the state’s budget shortfall and protect Snyder’s corporate tax-cut gift to his donors. It is a familiar theme among Republican-governed states that are suffering revenue shortfalls despite cutting education, social programs, and infrastructure repair to cover trickle-down tax cuts for the rich and their corporations.
Now, calling for Snyder, a Koch-ALEC puppet, to resign is not nearly enough; no Republican will ever resign or admit their malfeasance when they have the full support of corporations, ALEC, and the Koch brothers. It is something that the mainly African American poor communities knew months ago when they called for Snyder to be summarily arrested. Something Snyder blew off until he learned that federal prosecutors opened an investigation into why Republicans deliberately switched from a clean water supply to the notoriously polluted Flint River.
Snyder knew about the toxic water long before the switch was made; Hell, anyone who is conscious knew the Flint River has been toxic for ages. In fact, Snyder was well aware of the lead-tainted water before the federal prosecutor decided to take action and long before Snyder claims he learned he was poisoning children.
The Environmental Protection Agency attempted to help after they received test results show alarming levels of lead in the water; all while Snyder’s officials told residents there was no threat. About a year ago, an EPA official contacted the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality warning about lead contamination but no action was taken. Even after subsequent attempts on the EPAs part, nothing was done and it was months later (July) that Snyder’s chief of staff wrote an email to health officials admitting Flint residents were “getting blown off by us.” Snyder lies like a typical Republican when he says he just learned about the lead-poisoned water.
Young people in America may be unaware of the dangers of lead because it is kept out of the environment by government regulations. Decades ago it was prohibited from being used in paint and gasoline because just trace amounts in the atmosphere or dried paint are deadly. Lead is a neurotoxin that is particularly dangerous for infants and young children that lasts a lifetime; it permanently causes brain damage and stunts growth and normal development. It is something that made no difference to corporate-Republicans who made sure a poverty-stricken African American community in Flint were the recipients of a dangerous neurotoxin.
According to Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, “The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics routinely say there is no safe level of leads. When they saw an increase in lead levels, and then when the state saw an increase in lead levels, it’s an emergency. You have to do something about it.” But the state did nothing about it for nearly a year until a federal prosecutor launched an investigation; that is what prompted Snyder’s too little, too late response. To make matters worse, even when Snyder claims he was made aware of the poisoning he did not act to provide clean water.
The people of Flint have not had access to water for months and Snyder still did nothing. In fact, while Snyder refused to address the problem a Muslim group stepped up and donated 30,000 bottles of water “to poisoning victims;” about 100,000 people have not had water to drink, cook with or bathe in. The Muslim organizer, Dr. Aaziza Asakari said, “we saw what needed to be done and decided to do it. We reached out to schools, neighbors, friends, other mosques, anyone and everyone to help us by donating a case of water, or money towards a case.” One resident, Mohammed Almawla said, “Prophet Mohammed taught us ‘Your neighbor comes before your own household.’ As a resident of Detroit, this is not only a Flint problem, this is a Michigan problem and I feel obligated to help to the best of my ability.”
For corporate-sycophant Rick Snyder, the best he could do is mobilize the state’s National Guard to “help” address a genuine health crisis. The National Guard “hoped to” provide clean drinking water and lead testing kits to affected residents, but only a week after Snyder learned he was under investigation and declared a state of emergency. Snyder’s declaration came several weeks after the city of Flint officials already declared there was a catastrophic health emergency. It is noteworthy that Snyder only acted so the federal government would step in and use federal taxpayer money to address the poisoning of tens-of-thousands of Michigan residents; a crime that was solely to cover corporate tax cuts.
The preponderance of Americans who are not Republicans have no hesitation in helping their fellow citizens; it is just what decent Americans are naturally wont to do and something Snyder refuses out of hand. The people who should bear the entire cost of rebuilding the water delivery infrastructure are the corporations who benefited from the “cost-saving” measures to preserve their tax cuts. They should also be responsible for providing a lifetime of healthcare for the 25,000 to 30,000 Flint children who were forced to drink and bathe in a well-known neurotoxin to ameliorate the Republican budget and revenue shortfalls so corporations continue receiving their Koch-ALEC tax cuts.
According to health officials the world over, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the lead Snyder poisoned Flint children with will affect their brain development in very significant ways such as “reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as drastically-shortened attention span, increased anti-social behaviors, and greatly reduced educational attainment.”
It is noteworthy to reiterate, that like Flint, every city that Snyder appointed an unelected tyrant to run was predominately populated by poor African Americans. It is just another reason why Snyder should be arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned for deliberately poisoning tens-of-thousands of children to preserve tax cuts for the rich; resigning is too good for the Koch-ALEC puppet. If there was any justice left in America, the corporations profiting from Snyder’s poison spree would be forced to rebuild the water infrastructure and provide lifetime care for every child permanently damaged so the rich could get a lot richer.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.