In the 21st century, our industrialized system has stripped the human element from the most basic human needs. Food, air, and water—these things are elemental, required by all life. Yet the molecules that sustain us are too often consigned to the footnotes of our life story.
But few people read the footnotes until their lives depend upon it. Unless they’re black or poor. Or they live in Flint, Michigan, with brackish, brownish water pouring out of their taps. Imagine, for just one minute, learning that you fed your baby formula with water that was tainted by lead, and that it may be years before symptoms manifest.
The tragedy and malfeasance should shock even the most cynical.
“Emergency Managers” make a bad situation worse
A series of missteps contributed to Flint’s water crisis. As the city of 100,000 struggled with dramatic job losses over the last decade, Flint walked the tightrope of insolvency. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a staunch conservative who preaches the gospel of austerity, appointed a series of emergency managers, and gave them unprecedented powers to enact civic policy with minimal oversight.
Each manager took dramatic steps to cut the city’s operational costs. Eventually, Flint’s water supply was placed under the financial microscope, and some number cruncher determined that switching primary sources from Detroit to the Flint River would save
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