FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital

by

shutterstock_140137948

If ever one wondered about the efficacy of a state government agency imposing officials on local governments, Flint has answered that question forever.

In April, 2014, the state-appointed emergency manager, in order to save money, ordered that the city’s water source be changed from Lake Huron to the notoriously polluted Flint River.

The switch unleashed a citywide disaster of disease, destruction, and death. Flint was a toxic river, rich in lead, a major pollutant that has devastating effects on brain development, speech and I.Q. levels in children. As soon as it was pumped into municipal water systems, the corrosive waters leached lead from the old pipes, and sped it to some 90,000 homes into the city.

Flint is now a poisoned city, because of its toxic water.

It also illustrates how officials from afar can cause a catastrophe at home. Now, tens of thousands of children who drank the water, and were bathed in the water, may suffer life-long problems – skin diseases, cognitive impairments, speech deficits and more.

The state, being penny-wise and pound foolish, has created a problem that may last for generations. The state’s emergency manager created an emergency.

The Michigan examples of the politics of austerity will cause problems that will cost billions of dollars to resolve.

The politics of ignoring the problems of the poor erupt like lava – demanding National attention.

Michigan, by the way, is named after the Chippewa words, mici gama, meaning “Great Water.”

Michigan governor, Rick Snyder, will be remembered, not for “Great Water” – but for toxic water.

***

From the beginning of human communal time, people built cities adjacent to rivers, for water, fresh water, was the source of life.

Cairo (and before it grew into Cairo, Fustat), relied on the Nile; London (and before that, the Roman colonial city of Londinium) was built upon the banks of the Thames; Paris (originally known as Par-Isis, or the House of Isis) grew from the flow of the Seine; Rome rose to become an empire along the banks of the River Tiber.

Cities feed upon, and grow from, the waters beside them.

Flint, Michigan is named after the Flint River, for the hard, dark flint stones that formed its river bed.

For decades, General Motors drew from it, and then poured into it, its chemical wastes and effluvium, until it became the corrosive, toxic brew that it is now. Indeed, after the waters became so acidic that it damaged automobile parts, GM bailed out, closing their operations there.

These are the waters that Michigan officials, under so-called emergency management powers, to save money, routed into Flint homes: waters that damaged and dissolved metals, were found fine enough to feed the population of human beings in a modern American city.

Thousands; tens of thousands of people, poisoned, for profit.

Why is that not a crime?

Why was it not a crime to poison a river in the first place?

For the same reason that it is not a crime today to order the poisoning of thousands of people for corporate and state profit.

Thousands of people – many of them children – poisoned in their brains, their livers, their kidneys, their lungs, their bones – for life, in many cases, and even the talking heads on corporate media outlets are speaking of lawsuits and civil damages – more money – that can’t cure.

When is a crime not a crime?

When corporations do it. When governments do it.

The U.S. government, through its military, committed genocide in Iraq, destroying one of the oldest civilizations on earth, based on lies, ignorance and arrogance. It tortured Iraqis in American-run hellholes, and busted a few low-life guards.

It opened up a torture chamber in Cuba, and suspended the Constitution – and called it justice. (Theirs’s actually a joint called Camp Justice in Guantanamo Bay – I kid you not)

In a capitalist society, only capital matters. It’s all about the Benjamins – bucks over bodies. Profit. Period.

In Michigan’s prisons, there ain’t a single prisoner who committed a more vicious crime than the Governor of that state.

Their crimes, no matter what, were retail. The government, for a few bucks, committed crimes against thousands –wholesale.

But these are crimes of the powerful.

They don’t count.

These are crimes of capitalism.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of Writing on the Wall.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Woman’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail