26 Jan '16    home | more politics

Ideology and Flint City Water

Conservatives have taken over many state governments and "have sought to cut social insurance spending on the poor." So says Paul Krugman, liberal columnist for the New York Times. He adds,

In fact, many state governments dislike spending on the poor so much that they are rejecting a Medicaid expansion that wouldn’t cost them anything, because it’s federally financed. But what we also see is extreme penny pinching on public goods.

He cites examples:

Kansas, which made headlines with its failed strategy of cutting taxes in the expectation of an economic miracle, has tried to close the resulting budget gap largely with cuts in education.

North Carolina has also imposed drastic cuts on schools.

Chris Christie famously canceled a desperately needed rail tunnel under the Hudson.

Public construction spending as a share of national income has fallen sharply in recent years, reflecting cutbacks by state and local governments that are ever less interested in providing public goods for the future.

The attempt at saving money includes sharp cuts in spending on water supply. In 2014, observes Krugman, Flint Michigan's city manager – appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder – switched to an unsafe water supply in order to save money.

Related to conservative ideology, the Heritage Foundation's journal The Daily Signal has an article (dated January 20) titled "Another Government-Caused Water Crisis and Cover up." One of its readers asks,

Can anyone give me one example of something any GOVERNMENT does well?

Another reader answers:

Yes. They are VERY good at wasting our money!

There have been no comments that I have heard, so far, calling for turning the public's water supply over to private business.

(Paul Krugman's Jan 25 column is titled "Michigan's Great Stink".)


January 26

Today Dana Milbank has a column in the Washington Post titled "The Flint disaster is Rick Snyder's fault, and Milbank faults Jeb Bush for the ideological spin in Bush's statement that the disgrace of Flint's water “is related to the fact that we’ve created this complex, no-responsibility regulatory system, where the federal government, the state government, a regional government, local and county governments are all pointing fingers at one another.”

Milbank continues:

... the Flint disaster, three years in the making, is not a failure of government generally. It’s the failure of a specific governing philosophy: Snyder’s belief that government works better if run more like a business.

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