As Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s tower of lies collapses around him, we are finding some extremely disturbing, if at this point unsurprising, new pieces of evidence among the rubble. A great deal of effort is going into determining just what happened in Flint, Michigan, where a switch in water sources by the Snyder administration, ostensibly in order to help save money after Snyder’s tax cuts blew giant holes in the state budget, ended up poisoning thousands of people with toxic lead in the poor and largely African-American city of Flint.
However, question marks are already emerging from the conventional explanation for the switch – that is, to save $2 million by selling polluted water to Flint residents. Journalist Steve Neavling of the independent newspaper, Motor City Muckraker, believes that the water pipes were not switched in order to save money, thanks to the release of a new email which appears to indicate that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) offered Snyder a deal worth $800 million over 30 years, which would have been 20% cheaper than switching to the polluted Karegnondi Water Authority.
MCM also reports that “A high-ranking DWSD official told us today that Detroit offered a 50% reduction over what Flint had been paying Detroit. In fact, documents show that DWSD made at least six proposals to Flint, saying “the KWA pipeline can only be attributed to a ‘political’ objective that has nothing to do with the delivery – or the price – of water.” The deal was signed in 2013, and Governor Snyder refuses to release the emails from this period – refusing to offer up the paper trail of how, exactly this decision was made.
OccupyDemocrats cannot independently confirm or deny these allegations, however; if they are true, they begin to paint a very different picture than the one we originally thought we were looking at. What appears at first to have been a tragic case of desperate cost-cutting and criminal negligence is now taking on the contours of a much deeper conspiracy in which the people of Flint were a sacrificial lamb on the alter of free market fascism.
Neavling not-so-subtly suggests that the ultimate goal was to break up and privatize the DWSD by starving it of a crucial customer base. It has already been split into two entities in 2015: the DWSD and the Great Lakes Water Authority; depriving it of the Flint contract would give the Snyder administration an excuse to sell it off. Others point to a desire to begin new fracking operations in Michigan.
It just goes to show how dangerous the Republican Party’s crusade to dismantle all public institutions and replace them with privatized alternatives that put profits over the well-being of their customers truly presents to our nation. Governor Snyder, who was propelled into office with over $12 million in corporate campaign cash, has spent his entire governorship implementing all the trademark pieces of the Koch Brothers’ plan for America – an Americans For Prosperity-spearheaded union killing right-to-work law (even though he promised he wouldn’t during the election); the appointment of rule-by-decree”emergency managers” for major cities; slashing corporate taxes and instituting a budget-crippling flat tax; crippling public schools with budget cuts and replacing them with charter schools.
More information will reveal itself as Snyder heads to Washington to explain himself to the House Oversight Committee, but the lesson here is clear. Not only do the Congressional Republicans show little interest in any actual governance, but their governors tend to wreck the states they are supposed to lead. Snyder blew a $454 million hole in his budget and poisoned a city; Sam Brownback of Kansas passed corporate tax cuts that blew a $600 million hole in his state budget; Bobby Jindal of Louisiana gave $12 billion in handouts to corporations, turning a $1 billion surplus into a $1.4 billion shortfall and a syphilis epidemic after he closed all of their Planned Parenthoods. There is little that the Republican Party has to offer the American people; they are only interested in fulfilling the whims and petty desires of the oligarchs and the ultra-wealthy while the rest of us pay the price.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.