FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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

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.

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
May 22, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Hugh Iglarsh
Aiming Missiles at Viruses: a Plea for Sanity in a Time of Plague
Paul Street
How Obama Could Find Some Redemption
Marc Levy
On Meeting Bao Ninh: “These Good Men Meant as Much to Me as Yours Did to You”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Shallò: 120 Days of COVID
Joan Roelofs
Greening the Old New Deal
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Still Matters
Charles Pierson
Is the US-Saudi Alliance Headed Off a Cliff?
Robert Hunziker
10C Above Baseline
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
The Fed’s Chair and Vice Chair Got Rich at Carlyle Group, a Private Equity Fund With a String of Bankruptcies and Job Losses
Eve Ottenberg
Factory Farming on Hold
Andrew Levine
If Nancy Pelosi Is So Great, How Come Donald Trump Still Isn’t Dead in the Water?
Ishmael Reed
Alex Azar Knows About Diabetes
Joseph Natoli
Will Things Fall Apart Now or in November?
Richard D. Wolff
An Old Story Again: Capitalism vs. Health and Safety
Louis Proyect
What Stanford University and Fox News Have in Common
Pete Dolack
Work is Inevitable But its Organization is Not
David A. Schultz
America and the Rise of the Chinese Century
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Fears the Nakba: How Memory Became Palestine’s Greatest Weapon
Heather Gray – Jonathan King
Coronavirus and Other US Health Threats? Fund Public Health Not Foreign Wars
Brian Cloughley
Don’t Be Black in America
Kenn Orphan
A Pandemic and a Plague of Absurdity
Matthew Stevenson
Our Friend Eugene Schulman
Richard C. Gross
The Man Who Cried Wolf
Ron Jacobs
Road Trippin’
Robert P. Alvarez
A Simple Solution for the Coronavirus Crisis in Prisons
Aadesh Ravi
The Long March of the Locked-Down Migrants
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Proliferation of Conspiracy Theories & the Crisis of Science
Nilofar Suhrawardy
The Other Side of Covid-19
Binoy Kampmark
Battles Over Barley: Australia, China and the Tariff Wars
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump can Learn Something from Mao Zedong’s Mistakes
Nicky Reid
The New New Cold War is Pretty Much the Old New Cold War
Dave Lindorff
As Republicans Face November Disaster, Efforts to Undermine Social Security Mount
Gaither Stewart
Remembrances of Meeting Cult Novelist Andrzej Kusniewicz in Warsaw
Gary Olson
“No. It’s Capitalism, Stupid.”
Jesse Jackson
The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education
Phil Knight
Wilderness and Recreation: an Uneasy Partnership
Alicia Salvadeo – Carolyn Pandolfo
No Bernie, Delegates Won’t “Turn Down the Volume”!
George Wuerthner
Massive Logging Putsch Planned for Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Forest
Laura Finley
The Peace Sign: A Safe Greeting and Sign of Victory over COVID!
Bernie Horn
To Save Lives, and Democracy, We Need to Vote by Mail
Dean Baker
Can You Make Stagnating Incomes Go Away? The NYT Wants You To…
Christopher Brauchli
Great Minds Think Alike: From Trump to Bolsonaro
Sophie Jones
Mutual Aid in Queens Amidst COVID-19
Jimmy Centeno
A Memoir of Time and Place: Margaret Randal’s “I Never Left Home”
David Yearsley
Corona Carpenter
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail