Conspiratorial thoughts on the Flint water crisis

#PureMichigan has to be the most grotesquely scandalous marketing slogan I’ve seen in my adult life. That’s how I feel about it as an outsider who, excluding an hour driving through White Pigeon and Sturgis for the sole purpose of a token visit so that I could say I’d been there and a couple of trips through the Detroit Airport, has meaningfully visited Michigan exactly once on a trip lasting not quite a week. I’ve got family and friends there now, so if their water supplies were being willfully poisoned by their governments, I’d want their officials to be jailed without bail and threatened, at least, with the Kwame Kilpatrick treatment.

I can also imagine easily enough how I’d feel if California (remember, I lives here; can I come in?) carried on with such a bald-faced lie of a slogan while refusing to deal with a public health and safety crisis of that magnitude. The San Francisco water supply–Hetch Hetchy, Pulgas Water Temple, and all–wouldn’t be able to compensate for a Flint-grade water poisoning disaster in, say, the Gateway Cities. Scandals like that taint entire states. They taint entire nations. California has some ongoing contamination-derived public health scandals, none of which has made the news in the same dramatic fashion as Flint. I’ve followed these when I’ve heard about them in the news, but they don’t make the news often, and I can’t say exactly why. Outrage fatigue is probably a factor. Postindustrial Michigan also exerts a mythic attraction over a certain swath of reporters and disaster pornographers (not mutually exclusive) that extantly industrial California does not. The Michael Moore factor, a century-plus of Big Three mother ship history, and Wow Much Musix certainly do more for the mythic allure of Michigan than Toto has ever done by coming out of the San Fernando Valley at a time when the Valley, too, had operational car assembly lines. My Civic was assembled in Waterloo: the city in Ontario, not the smash Abba hit. You may know even less about the Ontario music scene than I do as a consequence of having read too damn much about Jian Ghomeshi.

Still, the Flint water crisis has not been exaggerated. If anything, it has been chronically underplayed in the mainstream US press, which has spent most of the duration of the crisis jumping distractedly to other, mostly less consequential, stories, frankly with all the attention span of a coked-up Donald Trump. So it’s worth asking what in the freshly toxic hell is really going on in Flint. The expense and the logistics of replacing the contaminated pipework and replumbing the system into the Detroit Water Works, which supplied it until Rick Snyder’s emergency municipal manager infamously screwed the pooch with the river water, would be significant but in no way prohibitive for the federal government. We’re able to bomb the shit out of Syria, funnel God knows how much materiel to Saudi Arabia for its national pulverization campaign against Yemen, and keep sticking our national dick into every other Middle Eastern hornet’s nest, but we can’t fix a life-threateningly bad public water supply for one of our own cities of about a hundred thousand residents. This is unbelievably obscene.

There have been a number of comments at Naked Capitalism about how Barack Obama could have mobilized the US Army Corps of Engineers to fix the Flint water system but oddly, or not (as they say over there), didn’t. The dereliction of duty by the Michigan state government towards Flint is legendary, and now the formerly insurgent mayor, Karen Weaver, appears to be running interference for agencies that are refusing to fix her city’s water works at a time when they’re conspiring to foreclose on residents for unpaid water bills. Selling people a poisonous product and then stealing their houses when they refuse to pay for it is an exceptionally depraved and brazen business practice. In better regulated businesses it would get a company sued into liquidation and its owners and operators criminally prosecuted for fraud.

There are no intrinsic benefits to chronically poisoning the water works in a city of a hundred thousand, riling up its citizens by extorting them with bills for the infrastructure that they refuse to fix, and leaving them and their children with a horrifying variety of short- and long-term health problems. That’s nothing but a fiscal, social, and civic crisis. There may, however, be long-term extrinsic merits.

To understand these, we need to think like psychopaths.

First, urban Southeastern Michigan contains a number of distressed real estate markets. Some of these, including much of Detroit, are severely distressed. Capital very much likes to buy low and sell high, and Detroit is a great place to buy low. So far Downtown, Midtown, and a very small handful of other neighborhoods have been successfully converted into something straddling the margins between Potemkin Villages, permanent white elephant exposition grounds (e..g, a dumbass downtown People Mover running in a useless loop around the urban core of a metro area whose only coordinated regional bus service is a single line operated into Canada by a Canadian local government), and organically functioning neighborhoods. A shitload of public and private money has been funneled to politically connected contractors for vanity projects, and the city continues to implode because its police can’t reliably respond to emergency calls within an hour and store their evidence and case records in falling-down mold traps.

There’s money to be made from these disasters. It may not be honest money, but as future Texan Kwame Kilpatrick would have agreed, it’s money. Coordinating an official failure to repair the most notoriously toxic water system in the United States would be a great way to tank the local housing market and buy the bottom. It may really just be a convoluted shorting strategy. I have no way to know any of this, and I haven’t heard any gossip to this effect, but it’s completely plausible. Another comment that I saw at Naked Capitalism noted that no billionaire has stepped up to buy Flint a new water system. It’s hard not to see why not: billionaires live to use their money as leverage over the rest of us. We drink the Kool-Aid if we think otherwise. Modesty and frugality aren’t why they take their grandchildren out to Dairy Queen only once a month (what up, Warren); it’s pathological stinginess by way of catfishing the public. At least the Omaha fuckhead mostly plays investor roulette with railroads and shit instead of dicking around with school systems for megalomaniacal shits and giggles. Betsy DeVos isn’t actually worse than Bill and Melinda Gates here; she’s just more reviled by the hip set. Oh, and profit: they have the morality of a cancer.

What would any of these bottomfeeders do with the ruins of Flint? Hell if I know. They’ll think of something. No. They’ve already thought of something. It will in no way serve any conceivable public interest, but that’s not the point.

It’s occurred to me that the Flint water crisis may be part of a more coordinated depopulation scheme, but if it is, it’s an awfully poorly thought-out and inefficient one. Then again, we (sic) have learned nothing from our national vegetable gardens at Walter Reed and so forth, which make some rashes and leadheaded behavioral problems look like a summer walk in the park with Jian Ghomeshi and Lucy DeCoutere. Uh, how did that slip in there? The captain wanted to fuck his brains out (her words, not mine), but at least the good soldier (his words, not mine or hers) had some left as a consequence of not having been an actual soldier. Canada is next door to Michigan, for what good it might do anyone; we can ascertain by now that it isn’t pure, either.

Is the Flint disaster a scheme to impose mass infertility, either clinical or contraceptive? Maybe. We’re already dealing with official behavior that would have been unfathomably scandalous up until the day it came to pass, so the notion of a eugenic angle isn’t so much worse as it is novel. That can’t be the kind of environment that makes people confident for the future of their children. Let’s remember that our most famous baby boom, for what good it’s doing us today, took place in a time of great national confidence. For that matter, the Mormon breeders in the Napoleonic Mountain West live in their own geographical and temporal bubbles of good feeling, even if they derive some of their confidence from scams like Jamberry. Heh, I just said “confidence.” The actual effects of the Flint water crisis on local fertility will surely include the medical, social services, and criminal justice costs for a rising generation of impulsive retards, but again, we didn’t think through the costs of maintaining a bunch of national vegetable gardens before sending our youth off to our unjustifiable wars, either.

“We.” There’s an old Russian novel by that title, if I’m not mistaken.

Yeah, I was spitballing there, but I don’t think it was as crazy as it sounded. We’ve got an awful lot of dumbass policy, and it’s implemented by an awful lot of grandiose incompetents. These aren’t ones to consider the looming medical costs of a preventable generation of special needs children. Or, if they do, they’ve given their cronies in the medical industry the insider information and contracts that they’ll need to profit from the misery.

The bottled water industry is certainly profiting from this disaster. I wouldn’t count it out as a corrupting influence until it proves itself innocent. Then again, I profit greatly from the bottled water industry myself, not as a consumer or as a producer but as a redeemer. Chaka Can Chaka Can.

It’s bleeding obvious that multiple levels of officials are trying to destroy Flint. It’s just that it may be even more sordid than we can prove right now. If Kwame Kilpatrick atones by manning a chow line for the Army Corps when it shows up to finally replace the damn pipes, that’ll be more than Rick Snyder has ever done for their state. As things stand today, the fucker’s chargeable to you and me, just like the young, shall we say, leaders a couple hours upstate. You may not have pronounced that correctly, but I did.

Do I sound bad for making fun of kids who are getting leaded unto enduring behavioral and developmental problems? Well fuck me, I’m not the one using public policy to cause their inevitable conception and rearing. And I never advertised that I was any more tasteful than their current water supply. Most of you are still coming around here for Dubai Porta Potty. Then again, that involves being bodily shit on for a single weekend. We’re longhaulers on this side of the pond. If you don’t believe me, believe Pot-o-Shit Friend.

I have no idea why I think this, but it’s almost as if we’re part of the Third World.


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