Senate Democrats are rushing to the government to “solve” the Flint water crisis. Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow are going to try to get Flint addressed through the energy bill. National Journal reports details are a little sketchy, but Stabenow is obviously blaming Michigan’s Republican governor for the failure (emphasis mine).
Peters declined to give details Wednesday evening, saying it was still a “work in progress.”
Aides said specifics of the amendment would be released Thursday.
The amendment is meant to address the drinking water crisis that’s engulfed Michigan and been linked to serious health problems in thousands of Flint residents.
Peters and Stabenow, along with Michigan Rep. Dale Kildee, announced separate legislation Wednesday that would require the EPA to notify residents of any danger from lead in their water system and to release results of any lead monitoring conducted by public-water systems. The bill, Stabenow said, would give the federal government “clear legal authority to provide notice to the public when a state is not taking action on a public-health-safety crisis.”
So Stabenow’s bill is purely political and meant to hurt Republican Governor Rick Snyder, even though he’s in office for another four years. Stabenow is probably hoping the Flint water situation will switch the Michigan Legislature back to Democratic control. Stabenow and the rest of the Democrats can try to make this all about Snyder and the GOP, but she’s failing to tell the whole truth. Michigan isn’t just a megapolis, with a bunch of different neighborhoods run by administrators, it has different cities with their own elected government. Flint’s government is run by Democrats and Shikha Dalmia from The Week has a detailed listing of what the local government failed to do.
Residents started complaining about the taste and color of the water right after the switch in April 2014. The city denied anything was wrong, but later discovered that the water contained a higher-than-recommended concentration of TTHM (trihalomethanes) — a byproduct that is generated when too much chlorine is required to disinfect the water. This, along with some other issues, prompted General Motors to quit the Flint water system after its auto parts started corroding. Yet Democratic Flint Mayor Dayne Walling was still telling residents the water was safe, even advising them that buying bottled water would be “wasting their precious money.”
It’s also very important to note the failure of federal and state agencies in the water crisis. Dalmia points out the EPA and its Michigan counterpart decided to investigate what was going on, instead of listening to people who knew how to solve it. They also went with standardized testings, instead doing what normal people do to get water. This shows the problem with government agencies and how their workers can go from thinking like people to just becoming a bureaucratic drone only concerned with their own position (to be fair, humongous corporations can have the same problem). The drones decide to ignore the obvious solution and go through “the process” and waste more and more taxpayer money.
The good news is help IS coming to Flint, but it’s not the government on a white horse. Private corporations (including *gasp* WALMART) are donating bottled water to public schools so kids can drink clean water. They’re also partnering up with local charities to help others, and asking people to do the same. It’s amazing how quickly businesses and people can move quickly to help out in a crisis without the role of government. That isn’t sitting well with those on the Left how believe government is the savior. David Graham at The Atlantic believes it’s awful Walmart, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi are the ones stepping in to solve the problem (emphasis mine).
Walmart, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Pepsi aren’t just charitable organizations that might have their own ideologies. They’re for-profit companies. And by providing water to the public schools for the remainder of the year, the four companies have effectively supplanted the local water authorities and made themselves an indispensable public utility, but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability. Many people in Flint may want government to work better, but with sufficient donations, they may find that the private sector has supplanted many of government’s functions altogether.
Yeah…and? This is where those on the Left (and some of the Right) lose me when it comes to government involvement. There are private companies involved in utility work, including power and Internet (thanks Net Neutrality), which are doing things just fine. The times when things appear to go wrong are when the corporations and the government get too chummy with each other, or when the government decides to keep certain controls in place (see California’s energy crisis). Coca-Cola and Pepsi aren’t just corporations, they’re competitors. If people in Flint don’t like how Coke’s bottled water tastes or the price, they can go to Pepsi and vice versa. Flint’s public utility monopoly didn’t allow anyone to do this. If it were deregulated, then it’d give individuals more power to decide who they’d get their water from. Flint is a governmental failure, not a failure of one particular party. The fact Leftists are annoyed the private sector is helping out, instead of the government, shows they need to get their heads on straight.