This week's blog post is a little different. In it I will introduce a new section to the website. You will now notice a tab entitled "Flint Crisis" at the top of each page. In this tab there is a complete analysis of the Flint Water Crisis. While not immediately obvious, the Flint Water Crisis shares several features with the financial crisis, two in particular;
- the pernicious impact of the Federal Reserve on the economic health of the United States
- the political and media elites taking advantage of long-running problems to advance narrow, partisan and short-term objectives
Recall that in the Flint crisis high levels of lead were found in the Flint, Michigan drinking water. At first this was purely a local issue. (1) However, the crisis exploded into the national consciousness as Hillary Clinton used the Flint crisis as an example of why she needed to be elected president. Perhaps the most spectacular example of this came on February 07, 2016 in a speech to the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church.
Before reviewing her speech, a little context is in order. On February 01, 2016 Clinton had eked out a win - by just 0.2% - in the Iowa caucus against the heretofore largely unknown - and perpetually red-faced - socialist, Bernie Sanders. Moreover, she was staring at what promised to be a shellacking in the upcoming New Hampshire primary on February 09. (Indeed, she would lose this primary by 22%.) Hillary Clinton set her eyes on the upcoming South Carolina primary on February 27, and drew a line in sand. (2) She knew a lackluster finish in South Carolina would likely doom her campaign for president. As argued here, Hillary Clinton cynically - and fueled by the insatiable lust for power that has defined virtually her entire life - conjured up an enormous amount of selective outrage to blame the Flint water crisis on racism.
Here is Hillary Clinton on February 07 speaking to the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church;
"This is not merely unacceptable or wrong, though it is both. What happened in Flint is immoral. The children in Flint are just as precious as the children in any part of the America. ...If what had been happening in Flint happened in Grosse Pointe or Bloomfield Hills, (two wealthy Detroit suburbs - author), I think we all know that we would have had a solution yesterday." (3)
In her speech Hillary Clinton clearly concludes that the Flint crisis was the direct result of government officials simply not caring about cities like Flint because the people who live in these cities are different than the people who live in wealthy suburbs. However, does this conclusion standup to any sort of scrutiny, or is it a transparently brazen attempt by Hillary Clinton to grab the proverbial brass ring by any means necessary?
First of all, in today's day and age, what politician could possibly think that their career would be advanced in any way by being associated with something like what happened in Flint. More relevant to the discussion here, is a review of the long-running nature of the Flint crisis, and the critical role that local political corruption - exclusively perpetrated by Democrats - played in the genesis of the crisis. The direct causal relationship between local corruption, the cost of potable water in Flint and the subsequent Flint water crisis should have been obvious even to an outsider. However, Hillary Clinton - a career politician - was no outsider when it came to local Michigan politics.
One of Hillary Clinton's chief surrogates, not just in the state of Michigan, but nationally, was former Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm. Granholm cut her political teeth in Wayne County, Michigan under the tutelage of a local political power broker - Edward McNamara. (4) As corporate counsel to McNamara, Granholm worked with Bernard Kilpatrick. (Kilpatrick was McNamara's chief of staff.) Kilpatrick, along with his son and future mayor of Detroit, Kwame, would play an enormous role in a $72-million scandal centered on the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). It was the high cost of DWSD water that eventually prompted the cash-strapped city of Flint to look for alternate sources of water. This corruption was the precipitating cause of the Flint Crisis.
Both Jennifer Granholm and Hillary Clinton are lawyers. Lawyers are fond of apportioning blame with the "but for" criterion. This criterion states that "but for" 'X', 'Y' could not have occurred. In the case of the Flint Crisis - and as argued on this website - "but for" the enormous political corruption in Democrat dominated Detroit, the Flint Crisis never would have occurred. For some insights into the brazen nature of Detroit political corruption and the impossibility of a politically connected person like Jennifer Granholm - and thus Hillary Clinton - remaining unaware of it, see the first 45-seconds of the YouTube video below. The recording was made by a government informant as part of the FBI's investigation into the "Kilpatrick enterprise," and the role Granholm's former Wayne County colleague, Bernard Kilpatrick, played in it.
Unlike Hillary Clinton's view of the Flint Water crisis being the inevitable result of a bunch of racist thugs stumbling onto a sinister plan that concentrates its most pernicious effects on innocent children, the crisis developed over many years and in three primary phases
- Phase 1 - Political Corruption and the Bankruptcy of Detroit (September 04, 2001 -July 18, 2013)
- Phase 2 - The Engineering and Regulatory Aspects of (Temporarily) Switching from DWSD Water to Flint River Water (March 25, 2013 - August 17, 2015)
- Phase 3 - The Discovery of Lead in the Water and the Politicization of the Crisis (February 2015 - June 2017)
The dates refer to the article and associated "timeline" that can be accessed under the Flint Crisis tab. As a result of the enormous political corruption in Detroit during Phase 1 and prior, the cost of water from DWSD skyrocketed. (5) The most illustrative nature of the pervasiveness of this corruption - and the inspiration behind the article I wrote - is provided by Monica Conyers, then the the head of the Detroit City Council and wife to long-time Detroit congressman John Conyers. In another conversation recorded by the FBI, Monica Conyers told one of her underlings on his way to a shakedown of a local business owner, "You'd better get my loot, that is all I know." Phase II describes Flint's attempt to obtain its water from some place other than DWSD. Flint eventually decided to participate in the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA). The KWA was building a pipeline, and while the pipeline was completed, Flint needed to obtain its water from a source other than DWSD. Flint's city council selected the Flint River (which had provided water to Flint in the past, when Flint was much bigger.) Finally Phase III describes everything that happened after lead was found in the drinking water.
The article is quite long - 20-pages! Like the timeline of the financial crisis, the article on the Flint water crisis doesn't have to be read from start to finish. Each entry into the timeline includes a one-line summary. Even a cursory review of these summaries provides much more insight into the long-running nature of the crisis than provided elsewhere. In the article, I refer in several places to the corruption trial of New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin. The political and media elite took advantage of Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath in exactly the same way as they did with the Flint crisis. I lived just outside New Orleans when Katrina struck in August 2005.) In both crises, the enormous contributions of long-running causes - local political corruption and incompetence in particular - were conveniently ignored. Instead, scorn was focused on two politicians with virtually nothing to do with either crisis - Gov. Rick Snyder (Flint) and Pres. George W. Bush (Katrina). As result, the article not only provides insight into the Flint crisis not available from most major media outlets, it also provides insight into how most major media outlets will choose to cover any issue.
Best regards and best wishes for Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
November 18, 2018
PS - As always if you like what you read, please consider registering with the site. It just takes an e-mail address, and I don't share this e-mail address with anyone. The more people who register with the site, the better case I can make to a publisher to press on with publishing my book! Registering with the site will give you access to the entire Confederacy of Dunces list as well as the Financial Crisis timeline. Both of these are a treasure trove of information on the crisis and the long-running problems that led to it.
(1) Although it betrays the thinking of a clearly bygone era, a question that should have been asked after the Flint Crisis was injected into the 2016 presidential campaign is, why is it the responsibility of the president to guarantee drinking water quality in any city or town? The point is not that drinking water is not important; it clearly is. However, isn't drinking water a responsibility of local government and local officials and not a responsibility of the federal government or the president? Of course, invoking the concept of Federalism or the the 10th Amendment is a very difficult task when you are discussing these concepts with a Yale law school graduate or some power-mad career politician. Trying to discuss these concepts with someone who is both a Yale law graduate and a power-mad politician like Hillary Clinton becomes a fool's errand.
(2) Hillary Clinton won the South Carolina primary 73% - 26% over Sanders. The primary set the template for Clinton's primary victory over Sanders.
(3) Anthony Restuccia, "Hillary Clinton: What happened in Flint is immoral," Politico, February 07, 2016 https://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/hillary-clinton-flint-water-218894
(4) A terminal at the Detroit airport is named after McNamara. A pretty good rule of thumb states that if a bridge, tunnel or airport is named after a politician who helped get the bridge, tunnel or airport built, then the politician was probably corrupt!
(5) The Great Lakes are the largest source of fresh water on planet earth! The fact that DWSD draws its water from such a large and readily accessible source and still charges very high rates to do so speaks volumes about the enormous level of corruption in DWSD and in Detroit. See the "June 2017" discussion in the article and the comparison between Detroit and New York City.