Now, if this isn’t just the epitome of Current America. Illegally turn the city over to an unelected “manager” in a
replacement coup of their elected mayor. Privatize the water system. Don’t monitor said water system. Find out, belatedly, but after being warned several times, that the water is toxic. Cover up the facts until people are turning up sick, brain-damaged or dead. Blame it on A) the Democrats, B) the Republicans, C) anyone no longer in office, D) the janitor, E) God, or F) the impoverished poor people who didn’t (i.e., couldn’t) pay their exorbitant water bills from the price-gouging private company and who therefore deserved what they got. This is just the invisible hand of the market at work, or some such eternal and bright capitalistic truth, right? Here are a couple of hard and real truths for you: it is unlikely the people who inflicted this on the public in Flint will ever pay any legal price for it. It is inconceivable that any of them actually care about the matter, although they may mumble some platitudes about how unacceptable it all is, as though they had no idea how this whole thing happened; if they cared about what sort of crap was flowing from the faucets of the city, they would never have made the decisions they did. And here’s the saddest truth: the people who have been harmed by the water system are utterly dependent on the ones who let it happen in the first place to find a solution.
However, we can now use this as a teaching moment for these poor young ones so they will learn how to use their new free water filters, which they are going to need for the rest of their lives whether they are living in Michigan’s Dead Zone or some other pit of hell carved out specially for them elsewhere in the nation, because they aren’t ever going to get anything better than toxic waste to drink no matter where they are corralled by the assholes in charge, and it is damn near impossible to get out of one of these poverty pockets once you’ve accidentally landed in one. They can’t even legally sell their homes and try their luck elsewhere, assuming there was an elsewhere to go to; Michigan law is such that a person can’t sell a home knowing that there is no drinkable water running from the taps. But apparently, yeah, what all God’s children in Flint (and Detroit and elsewhere) need right now is just a little instruction on how to use those fucking water filters and a lesson about the water cycle. What you never want to talk about – or for them to learn about – is how democracy is supposed to work and how it has been subverted all over the country by corporate interests and toady politicians, or how the EPA, the USDA, and other protective agencies used to be funded and run, or how this shit never had to happen to them in the first damn place.
Oh, and this is an opportunity to collect artifacts from this historic event. Don’t want to be last in the game of collecting and collating details on how America killed its own.
I wonder how those babies, black and white, will one day feel about being living “artifacts” while they were growing up in the fetid swamp of this new experimental system of governance where privatization and austerity, controlled by corporate interests and imposed by fiat coming from the very officials who are charged with holding the common good in trust, took their futures away from them. Maybe they should talk to the American Indians about how it feels to be viewed as part of the historical record of artifacts being gathered even as they are struggling to deal with the events, which are still occurring at ground zero. Maybe the museum holding this event should ask the descendants of the Tuskegee men if their grandfathers might have felt better about the whole thing if only someone had just thought to accumulate and collate the medical artifacts for the public’s perusal while they were still being experimented on. (Seriously, what the hell is wrong with this country?)
Maybe the curators of this museum event can start some other collections to document life downwind and down-river from one of the 100 nuclear plants around the US – hey, the people living near Hanford and Indian Point have some stories to share. The museum officials already missed their chance to compile information on what normal human health was prior to the global take-over of the agricultural systems by the companies that are testing their unproven hypotheses about the safety of genetic modification throughout the food chain and saturating everything with toxic chemicals along the way, as well as destroying any nutritional value that was previously available in these foods. [Here I must give a shout-out to the Clintons and the Gates, the two families who have done more than anyone else, in joint effort with the GMO companies themselves, to inflict this particular form of mass health speculation on the human beings trying to live on this planet. Well done. You have now reached what some individuals consider the peak position in the hierarchy of hominids. You have become, in essence, the world’s apex predators – of your fellow men. Some people actually admire that.] I’ll tell you what: neither the museum curators nor the insurance company sponsoring this event will teach the right lessons for posterity to learn in this exercise, and they aren’t collecting the right “artifacts”, because this situation has fuck-all to do with the water cycle and really very little to do with the purity of the water from the nearby lakes and rivers, either. It has everything to do with poverty, corrupt grifters acting as government officials, the weakening of whatever remains of any useful regulations, and the imposition of the profit-seeking private corporatocracy on a captive population. The US takes puffy pride in its claim of equality for all, but here’s the thing; no-one whines that he isn’t equal to the poor slob on the bottom rung. Everyone wants to be equal to the guy above him. Our current social, political and economic systems reflect that. So not much will be done to address the root causes of the water problem in Flint. The best they can hope for is that the free water filters continue to come in and that those filters aren’t made by the same contractor that made the formaldehyde-laden trailers offered to the hurricane Katrina victims. Nothing will be done to ameliorate, much less correct, the grinding and dismal conditions for the poor in this “most equal” of countries.
And I’m sure it is only moments before some politician or media asshole starts talking about how the people of Flint are getting too much free stuff in the way of those water filters and bottles of potable water. That just smacks of socialism and the welfare state, after all, doesn’t it?
Children in Flint, Michigan can now visit the Sloan Museum for “Water Works” classes that teach them how to filter their drinking water. The museum is also compiling notes from the community on the lead-contaminated water crisis for future reflection.
As part of the “Water’s Extreme Journey” traveling exhibit, kids experience the water cycle “from the perspective of a water drop trying not to become polluted,” according to the museum’s website.
“One of the takeaways for the public should be that the health of the Flint River is actually quite good,” Exhibit Manager Warren Lehmkuhle said in a museum statement. “It was the lack of corrosion treatment, treatment that even lake water goes through, that caused the problem with our water.”
Students will be given the opportunity to construct and test their own filtration systems, as well as learn the whole history of Flint’s water systems going back as far as 1873. At the end is a comment board where residents can share their stories of how the water crisis impacted them.
“I think we have a responsibility to document as much as possible now for future generations because, as with any kind of museum collecting, it is much easier to accumulate artifacts pertaining to current events now, rather than waiting 50 years when they are considered historic,” Curator of Collections Jeremy Dimick said in the statement. “If we do a good job collecting items and information now, the community will be better able to look back on the event 50 and 150 years from now.”
The exhibit, sponsored by local health care plan provider HealthPlus, opened on January 23 and ends May 8.
The city’s water source was switched from the Detroit system to the Flint River in 2014 without the proper follow-up of adding anti-corrosive agents, resulting in lead from pipes seeping into the drinking water supply. Research done in September 2015 by the Hurley Medical Center found that the average number of Flint children under the age of 5 with blood-lead levels considered too high by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had doubled since the switch.
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), shortening of attention span, increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment as examples of brain damage children can face when exposed to lead. Other harmful effects include anemia, hypertension, kidney failure, damage to the immune and reproductive systems.
“The neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible,” according to the WHO.
And when you residents of Flint leave your stories on the museum comment board about how the water crisis has affected you, please remember; this is for posterity. So, be honest. How do you feel?