Yesterday, I read about the contaminated drinking water injuring and killing the people of Benton Harbor, Michigan. So many of the factors plaguing Benton Harbor are familiar to us.
- Lead pipes are responsible for the contamination of the drinking water.
- A majority of Benton Harbor’s residents are black.
- 45% of Benton Harbor’s residents live in poverty.
- State and federal authorities have known about and failed to solve the problem for years.
Once again, citizens in the richest nation on earth are lining up to get bottled water because their tap water is literally killing them. Once again, American citizens are dying because the best government can do is offer a three-year plan to fix lead pipes. Once again, politicians and the media are largely ignoring preventable death and illness. Once again, America is showing everyone the lack of morality that has always defined America’s character. Once again, America is showing everyone how racist and classist America has always been.
The projected price tag for fixing the contamination of Benton Harbor’s drinking water is less than $30 million. In a nation where people have billions, the federal government just agreed to a $778 billion-dollar “defense” budget, and many people are worth lots more than $30 million, the people of Benton Harbor are dying because America can’t spare $30 million to save their lives.
Contaminated drinking water does tell a sad, immoral story. A society that won’t spend money to fix pipes that are causing serious illness and death is a society that is fundamentally broken. Benton Harbor and Flint before it, tell the true story of America. You may hate hearing that, but what else can be said about a country where children die preventable deaths because society won’t pay to fix pipes?