Did you really think that the slow genocide of an entire city full of non-rich working people would qualify as a national disaster prompting an emergency presidential declaration and the immediate presence of billions of dollars and the Army Corps of Engineers? Since there is no immediate profit to be made from lead-poisoned children, the lead-poisoned children will just have to quite literally suck it up until some tax-averse charitable corporations can partner with politicians and figure out how to leach some extra bucks for themselves out of this tragedy.
The residents of Flint will have to wait years for the expensive new pipes, Obama vowed. Meanwhile, in a downright bizarre effort to prove that lead in human bodies is not really as bad as it's cracked up to be, the big man himself took a couple of tentative sips of filtered Flint tap water. (Presumably after it was thoroughly refiltered, retested and deemed safe by the Secret Service, who normally supply and serve Obama's a la carte potables.)
Unlike the emergency bailout of the Wall Street bankers, unlike the rescue of the state's auto industry, there is no "fierce urgency of now" in Obama's Flint playbook. Check out the typical neoliberal buzzwords in bold:
We are ensuring that we have a plan for the system to work over the long term; and that we are certain that our kids here in Flint are going to be able to take advantage of their talents and opportunities well into the future.Just because kids have ingested and bathed in near-lethal levels of lead and developed behavior and learning issues and broken out in sores doesn't necessarily mean they can't eventually "live up to their potentials", he soothed. Expensive fresh fruit and vegetables can even ameliorate the effects! (He doesn't give any tips on how to actually wash your produce, however.) And sometimes all it takes is a trip to the doctor to reassure parents that a little potential brain damage is not necessarily such a bad thing. The important thing now is that parents act responsibly, use the free filters and the expanded Medicaid being so magnanimously provided for them. Meanwhile, rest assured that politicians and bureaucrats are working hard on planning to come up with a plan for maybe eventually getting some additional funds that somehow never are an issue when it comes to spending trillions on Permawar and tax loopholes for the wealthy.
It may take a year. It may take two years. It might take more to get all the pipes replaced. And in the meantime, folks have to be able to use water. So trust that the tests have been done and the filter system works.It's safe to drink as long as you aren't below the age of six, chronically ill or immune deficient, in which case you are royally screwed.
Third point. In order for us to clean out the system, to flush out the contaminants, and to have confidence that, as we fix the system, it’s actually going to be safe for all the households in Flint, we need everybody in Flint to start helping us flush out that system. And so I guess there’s a program called Flush For Flint. It’s not the most elegant name. (Laughter.) But the concept is pretty simple if you think about it, and that is we need everybody to turn on their tap in the kitchen, in the tub for five minutes a day so that the water is running and whatever contaminants are sitting in there start getting pushed out.You will of course still have to pay for all that wasted water. If only we could flush out the whole contaminated pathocracy while we're at it. But no dice:
Now, I understand if people are scared and they’re not using their water, that they may wonder why is it up to me to be part of this process of fixing it. But the bottom line is, is if you’re not doing your part, then these outstanding folks around the table who want to help can’t do theirs.Whether it's the housing crash or chronic joblessness and income inequality caused by Wall Street greed, at least half the onus must always be placed on the victims. Whether it's CIA "patriots (who) tortured some folks", or fine family men like Paul Ryan who cut social programs, they are all simply outstanding folks. So if you're not part of the public relations solution, you're part of the problem, proles! You have to have some skin in their rigged game.
And what I’m encouraged by is I think a recognition at every level of government that we have to take what has been a crisis and see if we can turn this into an opportunity to rebuild Flint even better than before.It's the dogma of creative destruction. Rich people view poor people as investment opportunities. The poor are reliable sources of profit, be it by forcing them to take out payday loans to meet their water bills, raising their rents, penalizing them unless they buy worthless junk health insurance, punishing them within the private prison system, using them as killing machines for profitable wars, experimenting with them in privatized schools, taking a cut from their food stamp balance every time they buy a gallon of milk, ad infinitum. The possibilities and the profits are truly endless. Flint is just one more opportunity for disaster capitalism to helicopter down and pounce once the pouncing is good.
I’m confident that we can do that if we’re all working together. And I emphasized to the governor and I emphasized to the mayor that my job here today is not to sort through all the ins and outs of how we got to where we are, but rather to make sure that all of us are focused on what we need to do moving forward on behalf of the children of Flint. That’s my priority. And that’s got to be all of our priorities.As per usual, there will be no accountability for the wealthy criminal class. Every man-made crisis must have either benevolence or ignorance at its core. Therefore, Governor Rick Snyder and the other officials who knew that the Flint water was contaminated for years and did nothing about it, will not be blamed and definitely not be prosecuted if Obama has his druthers. As he vowed at the beginning of his reign regarding the Bush-Cheney war crimes, his job is to look forward and not backward. The powerful must always protect their own kind and their own class, regardless of party affiliation.
Last point. I think people are understandably scared when they hear that their child may have ingested some lead, it may have gotten into their system, and that that may have some long-term impacts or create particular challenges for kids. But it is really important for all of us to remember that kids are resilient. And every kid in Flint is special, and has capacity, and can do great things. And the fact that they may have had some drinking water that was contaminated doesn’t automatically mean somehow that they’re going to have huge problems or that they’re not going to be able to reach that potential.The glass is always half full of lead-tainted water. They don't call it Special Ed for nothing, after all. I'm just surprised that he didn't also nominate lead as an essential mineral. But wait, the best is yet to come:
When I was five or six or seven, a lot of homes still had lead paint in it. (sic) I might have ingested some lead paint when I was two or three years old, because at the time, people didn’t know it. So we’ve got an entire couple of generations of Americans who have done really we despite the fact that they may have had something that is not optimal. And how lead interacts with any particular child is going to be different, and what each child needs is going to be different. And some kids are going to be fine, and they’re not going to be affected. Some kids may have more of an -- it might have more of an effect.He "might have " snacked on lead paint chips as a child, but look how awesomely well he turned out. Putting aside the utter sneering cynicism of that statement, let's take him at his word. Could his decision to drone to death hundreds and maybe even thousands of people residing on his presidential Kill List be a result of subtle organic brain disease that's left his IQ intact? Could his serial lying about corporate coups known as trade deals stem from a lead-based, neurological deficit in the areas of the brain which house aggressive impulse control and a moral compass?
Of course, the pathology does not belong to him alone. It's rampant throughout the media-political corporatocracy. It has been a long tradition of neoliberalism that the more abnormal the situation, the more vigorously the market-based thought collective will seek to normalize it. People can have their life-sustaining water poisoned due to the criminal neglect of their leaders, and then be urged to simply accept the band-aids of a little free medical coverage and a temporary filter for their faucets while their leaders stay wealthy and free and powerful. If "folks" expect anything more, like emergency declarations and new pipes before next year, then they are harboring utopian delusions. They are letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.
Generally I don’t do stunts, but here you go. (Takes a sip of water.) Now, this had a filter on it.
I reckon it's like those safe filtered cigarettes that the Marlboro Man who died of lung cancer used to advertise on TV. But hey, if you only take one puff or one sip over the course of your entire lifetime, you most likely will indeed live long enough to reach your full, post-presidential potential. Ka-ching!
Meanwhile, even the Democratic mayor of Flint is not buying Obama's bullshit. Karen Weaver says the cheap filters are simply not working at all in many of the homes receiving the still highly contaminated water.
But to hear the Neoliberal Thought Collective tell it, the only thing we have to fear is Donald Trump himself. The guy for whom scapegoating was a winning proposition is now the Scapegoat Du Jour. The whole world is apparently terrified of a Trump presidency. I imagine that his xenophobic Kill List would be even scarier than Obama's xenophobic Kill List. It would definitely be more sexist.
Even neocon candidate Hillary Clinton is concerned enough to go email-trolling for donors to her brand new Stop Trump Fund.
Dig that horror film devil-horned zombie hand coming out of the grave to grab you and bite you and turn you into another zombie!
Be afraid. Send Hillary a buck as she gathers together her own horde of Bush-Cheney neocons to fight the zombie menace. Then go guzzle some nice filtered water.