This is the ugly reality of the right-wing assault on America’s working people and particularly on people of color. They want to get “government out of the way” — out of the way of their greed. The successful have earned special treatment — in taxes, in contracts, in interest rates, in public investment. The unsuccessful need to learn self-reliance. They need to accept what they get and be grateful for it.
Courtesy of flintwaterstudy.org
Flint is not a bug in their perspective; it is a feature. They fought against African-Americans getting the right to vote. Now they use “emergency” to set up dictators — emergency managers — to occupy predominantly African-American communities. They worry that the poor get too much “free stuff” — food stamps (once a Republican program), health care through Medicaid (so they refuse to expand it), unemployment insurance when they lose their jobs (so they limit its coverage), minimum wages (which they fight against) and “costly regulations” that require safe water and clean air and safer workplaces.
The “establishment” Republican candidate Jeb Bush has called for a “regulatory spring cleaning” to strip away regulations that protect health and safety. The Republican Congress annually seeks to cut backs EPA’s budgets and authority. The Republican governors gleefully gut the budgets of their own state agencies. They don’t worry. The children of the rich will be protected. It is the poor — of all races but disproportionately people of color — who will be left at greater risk.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder should have the common decency to resign. The state and the federal government should step in and rebuild Flint’s water system immediately. A federal investigation should issue indictments where justified. But this isn’t simply about water and Flint. This is about an ideology that believes in this rich country, the privileges of the few must be protected, even if the necessities of the many are sacrificed. “Of course there is class warfare,” billionaire Warren Buffett once acknowledged, “and my class is winning.”
Jesse L. Jackson Sr. is founder and president of the Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition. You can keep up with his work at www.rainbowpush.org.