I first heard about the Flint, MI water issues early this past fall, on Tumblr of all places. After investigating it a little online, I reblogged the initial post to spread awareness a little, but mostly I just kept an eye on it from time to time because raising Internet awareness often seems a fruitless task, and there seemed to already be many warriors in the fray on this one. When the mainstream media finally broke with the story, when the government finally admitted to there being a problem, they were showing photos and clips from months before as “breaking news”. How much extra irreparable harm was done because of the delayed reaction and attempt at cover-up on the parts of those groups? I’ll post the link to the Wikipedia article on it, as it seems to give the broadest overview without a particular slant (difficult to find these days).
It is appalling that this situation has happened and that it’s all over water, one of the very essential things to life. Water, I might add, that was being paid for by the citizens, that is STILL being paid for by the citizens, toxins and all. Not a government handout, though one could argue that clean, potable water is a human right and not a luxury. Especially in a nation that many who live in it still cling to the notion of being “the greatest on Earth”, which is laughable if you look at any statistical comparisons.
People have taken to using this situation as an opportunity to take potshots at opposing political sides, which is not helpful to the situation at all and ignores the bigger issue here. We have a population that realized relatively soon that the water was unsafe to drink and it took them way too long to get the situation even acknowledged, let alone begun to be addressed. We have a population essentially trapped where they are now, as they are unable to sell their property and required to still be paying their water bills. We have proof of how much power and control we as citizens have in our current corporate oligarchy we live in, and the answer is “not very much”. This should be raising alarm bells across the country, and it isn’t. This could happen anywhere, whether because of deliberate destruction or greed or gross negligence. It has happened in the past, with different agricultural and industrial communities. It will happen again in the future. But this is maybe the first time that we can clearly see how far things can go against us as citizens of the United States. And if normal, every day people like me can see it, so can those that are really in control.
I have seen suggestions that perhaps our government is simply too inept to run public works like water supply, and that maybe we should privatize water and allow independent businesses to take over. To that I simply post this link with information to the gas leak currently happening in SoCal. And the thought of companies like CocaCola/Nestle and Pepsi handling our water supply is terrifying. Water traded on the open market in barrels, like oil, isn’t a distant dystopian fiction but a potential reality and one that I don’t want any part of. Privatization isn’t going to fix anything. Holding everyone responsible in these situations that are responsible will. Raising a population that is educated and morally (not religiously but truly morally) upright will. Bowing down a little less before the almighty dollar will. And people willing to get a little more angry about their rights and freedoms and safety being compromised and a little less angry about their favorite sports team losing may just help a little bit too.
I try to live each day with hope for the future. But I always have kept in the back of my mind the question of “what would be the tipping point for us as Americans to really get off our butts and restructure the way our nation is run and our lives?” If lack of potable drinking, and being required to pay for the toxic water offered in it’s place, isn’t enough to mobilize our citizens, what is? I truly wonder. Are there too many people asleep now? Too many complacent cogs in the machine? I don’t know. I truly hope not.