We trust our government when it comes to clean water, clean air, and other safety measures, but Republicans definitely don't want Americans to trust government. It's in their interests to see to it that government is untrustworthy and unreliable.
Which is why Rick Snyder's action (or inaction) with regard to the water in Flint, Michigan is so utterly contemptible. He should be recalled now. He should be impeached, even.
Here's the backstory, in a nutshell, but I do recommend watching the whole Rachel Maddow report above.
The Flint city manager decided, unilaterally, to switch the city's water supply to the Flint River without testing the water for safety.
Then the pipeline that brought Detroit water to Flint was sold to a third party, ensuring that there was no backup plan if the Flint River water was not clean enough for consumption.
Meanwhile, after the switch to Flint River water, residents began to complain.
Almost immediately after the city started drawing from the Flint River in April 2014, residents began complaining about the water, which they said was cloudy in appearance and emitted a foul odor.
Since then, complications from the water coming from the Flint River have only piled up. Although city and state officials initially denied that the water was unsafe, the state issued a notice informing Flint residents that their water contained unlawful levels of trihalomethanes, a chlorine byproduct linked to cancer and other diseases.
But it's worse than that, even.
The byproducts in the water corrode pipes. Lead pipes. And there are a lot of lead pipes in Michigan. When those pipes corrode, lead levels in the water rise, and children drinking the water are poisoned.
He added that while the water leaving Flint’s drinking water system is safe to drink, “some families with lead plumbing in their homes or service connections could experience higher levels of lead in the water that comes out of their faucets.” An action plan created by Snyder in October includes free water testing, free water filters and the accelerating of corrosion controls in the drinking water system, according to Murray.
For the parents of children who may have been affected, such actions were accompanied by the sense that they had come too late.
And as Rachel Maddow points out, all the bucks stop right at Rick Snyder's door. The city manager was accountable only to Snyder, as were the other officials involved in denying there was any problem with the water for 18 months.
“For more than 18 months, state and local government officials ignored irrefutable evidence that the water pumped from the Flint River exposed [residents] to extreme toxicity,” the complaint reads. “The deliberately false denials about the safety of the Flint River water was as deadly as it was arrogant.”
Calling officials’ conduct “so egregious and so outrageous that it shocks the conscience,” the complaint cites the specific experiences of a few plaintiffs and their families, all of whom allege they have been challenged by similar health ailments since high levels of lead and copper entered their bloodstreams.
These conditions include skin lesions, hair loss, chemical-induced hypertension, vision loss and depression. Of the four families described in the complaint, two had ceased to drink Flint water after a certain point — and used it only for washing and cooking — but still said they were exposed to many of the same ill effects.
It should shock the conscience, but for many Republicans, it won't.
Chris Savage at Eclectablog was on this early:
I cannot recall an instance in my lifetime where an entire city’s population was poisoned with a tasteless, odorless, powerful toxin thanks the actions of their state government that knew what was happening for MONTHS before any action was taken. This will become the legacy of Rick Snyder and his administration. It’s obscene. It’s a scandal. And people should go to prison.
But will they?