Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink in Flint

For those who don’t know, Flint Michigan is going through a water crisis. At risk of oversimplifying the story, the former industrial city was in serious economic crisis about two years ago and needed to slash the budget.

State officials came in and made a variety of cuts. One of these was to switch the town’s fresh water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, notorious among residents for its filthiness. Residents were feeling skeptical about the idea, but officials promised it was clean and safe. Come to find out, not only is the water color reminiscent of diluted apple juice, but it has very high levels of lead.

Essentially, Flint has been poisoning its citizens for just under two years without saying anything to them. And here’s the kicker: according to CNN, for only $100 a day, they could have added a purifying agent that would have prevented 90 percent of the problems.

In perspective, Flint’s population is about 100,000 people. So, for a tenth of a penny per person per day, hundreds of children wouldn’t be suffering the irreversible effects of lead poisoning. As I was becoming aware of this story, I saw something an old high school friend shared on Facebook. It was a meme of Kermit the Frog sipping tea, and it was captioned with “If ISIS had poisoned a city’s water supply, it would be considered an act of terrorism… but that’s none of my business.”

This raised an interesting point. State officials were definitely aware in this case that Flint’s water supply was contaminated, but is that the same as actively poisoning them? Are they less guilty than they would be if they dumped a bunch of lead into a clean water source, leaned back and cackled? I feel like the obvious answer is that they are less guilty, and in some ways I agree, but in others I disagree.

Sure, actively poisoning someone shows malicious intent, something we all would condemn, but this crisis could have so easily been avoided. It shows astonishing levels of apathy on the part of the state officials. There is just a flagrant disregard for the impact on real people. They saw they might save a few bucks by cutting corners and went for it. In a lot of ways, that’s worse.

I am not surprised so many Flint residents have called for Gov. Rick Snyder’s resignation over this.