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Dave Dayen has a great article about how the water crisis in Flint, MI, brought on by a bridge collapsin', plant explodin' right- wing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, illustrates a larger problem. He launches from a comment by Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (R-MIAmi), whose affinity for water is well known, saying he (Glug Glug) hadn't focused on or been briefed about the crisis. It's worth an extended excerpt:
Let me give Senator Rubio a refresher course. Michigan officials, who commandeered control of Flint’s local government through a disenfranchising emergency-manager process that suspiciously lines up with the main concentrations of African-Americans in the state, decided to temporarily use water from the Flint River for residential consumption while awaiting a new pipeline to Lake Huron. This was done to save money—to balance Flint’s budget, much like the persistent calls from Rubio and his Republican allies with respect to the federal budget.
The water from the Flint River was dirty, unfit for drinking or washing, and it corroded the lead-based service lines distributing water to 99,000 citizens. Residents immediately complained about the foul-smelling, bad-tasting water. It turned out the entire city suffered lead poisoning, as research demonstrated, for well over a year, with toxicity levels 13,000 times above a safe reading. The emergency manager in Flint, state environmental officials (who failed to properly treat the water), and Governor Snyder ignored this as long as they could, even withholding information from the public.
None of this is worth knowing about, according to Marco Rubio. He can’t be bothered with the mass contamination of an American city—not when the public is potentially, hypothetically unsafe from ISIS! Never mind the fact that you’re more likely to be hit by lightning or crushed by furniture than killed in a terrorist attack. [snip]Of course, as Dayen points out, Glug Glug is right in the mainstream of his party's attachment to laissez faire (except when it comes to deregulation and tax cuts for corporations and plutocrats, and control over ladyparts) government. It's in the Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid/ Shooter's Party DNA.
Indeed, as the Flint crisis shows, you are far more likely to be killed as a result of conservative austerity and deregulatory policies. Not only are they self-defeating when it comes to infrastructure—Michigan has already paid far more for the Flint disaster than it ever saved from temporarily re-routing the city’s water supply—but basing policy priorities on cost-cutting rather than human need inevitably leads to choosing winners and losers, and not in a benign way. (our emphasis)