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

August 30, 2016
Russell Mokhiber
Matt Funiciello and the Giant Sucking Sound Coming Off Lake Champlain
Mike Whitney
Three Cheers for Kaepernick: Is Sitting During the National Anthem an Acceptable Form of Protest?
Alice Bach
Sorrow and Grace in Palestine
Richard Moser
Transformative Movement Culture and the Inside/Outside Strategy: Do We Want to Win the Argument or Build the Movement?
Nozomi Hayase
Pathology, Incorporated: the Facade of American Democracy
Jan Oberg
How Did the West Survive a Much Stronger Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact?
Linda Gunter
The Racism of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Bombings
David Swanson
Fredric Jameson’s War Machine
Dmitry Kolesnik
In Ukraine: Independence From the People
Omar Kassem
Turkey Breaks Out in Jarablus, as, Fear and Loathing Grip Europe.
George Wuerthner
A Birthday Gift to the National Parks: the Maine Woods National Monument
Logan Glitterbomb
Indigenous Property Rights and the Dakota Access Pipeline
National Lawyers Guild
Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access Pipeline
Paul Messersmith-Glavin
100 in Anarchist Years
August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail