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The United States of Flint


The United States of Flint

Olivia Alperstein

The horrible, preventable crisis in Flint, Michigan shows that when the government shortchanges our infrastructure, people pay the price.

Flint has become a living hell for its residents.


"We need new spending priorities that will restore prosperity and invest in American communities. In short, we need the People’s Budget — and we need it now. The Flints of America can’t wait any longer."

All true, and yet the problem is much larger and more threatening than acknowledged here. For example:

  • How are we going to plan, and fund, moving all the world's large coastal cities as the seas rise by meters in this century? No planning at all is going on to even acknowledge this challenge.
  • How are we going to plan, and fund, the dismantling of much of the world's industrial and transportation infrastructure, to enable a coherent ecosphere to survive and restabilize? No consideration at all is given to the generalized breakdown of the ecology, which is NOT solely driven by climate change but is driven by the comprehensive industrial assault we call "the economy."

My friend took me to see Bill McKibben speak in Seattle on Monday. He was asked a couple of questions after the talk, about the Pentagon budget, and about nuclear weapons. He replied "Go for it," that he's totally focused on climate change but others should certainly take on militarism and nuclear arms, as if these are issues that we can separate from the need to coherently, collectively, and deeply address the climate chaos that has been unleashed by fossil-fueled industrial civilization.

We need peace. We need an end to war. We need to defund the Pentagon, and shift that money to supporting communities, and restoring ecological integrity. We need a people's budget indeed, but it has to be comprehensive and holistic, not separate issues that actually are intimately intertwined.


The present QE arrangements are not serving the US citizenry well.
The US has injected over $4.5 trillion into the economy since 2008 via banks and financiers - what has it achieved for the average 'Joe'?

Most of the money has gone to the <1%'ers; big banks got even bigger, industrialists funded production in new offshore factories, exec. bonuses ballooned, bank profits set new records, share trading blossomed. Every time the money is handled by financiers parasitic on-costs are extracted, the money is 'lent' - but only to those who are well enough off to be able to provide necessary loan 'securities'.

If Sanders is elected he ought re-direct QE funds to implement direct domestic stimulus spending to benefit the needy citizenry.
The govt. should directly call for tenders to rejuvenate schools, universities, highways, bridge maintenance, water reticulation, sewage systems, city/town infrastructure etc.

This will put money directly into depressed cities and towns, as well as local employment opportunities, the product of such investment provides direct and lasting benefit to generations of society.
Local people get jobs, the community gets an improved or new asset, local businesses get contracts, the govt collects income tax and reduced social security costs.

The above scenario is the' banksters' worst nightmare - they don't get to profiteer out of funds handling/control.
Corporatists will of course fight like demons to destroy any such scheme/arrangements, as it dethrones their "right to rule" all things financial.


The People's Budget is submitted every year by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Sanders is the only Senate member. To their credit, it has consistently been a better budget than the ones passed by Congress and signed by the President, and it's no easy feat to create a budget this size. That said, this same caucus of which Sanders is a member, has not endorsed him, and of the members who have endorsed a candidate, the vast majority have endorsed Clinton. It does beg the question, "Why did they bother to do the work of creating this budget and then support the candidate least likely to adopt it?"

Although the progressive caucus is one of the largest caucuses in Congress, it consistently fails to actually fight for what they say they believe in. It rolled over on Iraq war funding, single-payer health care, etc. I simply cannot cheer their budget, their purpose, or their performance as this caucus hasn't got the cajones to do anything of importance, or they would endorse Bernie Sanders--yesterday.

What's happening in Flint is a national disgrace, but if the progressive caucus wants to help Flint, they should introduce a stand alone bill to help the city now, and fight like hell for it. The Peoples Budget has never had a hearing in Congress before and there's no reason to think it will happen this time. And, should it happen, it will be many more months of suffering before this budget would pass, and only after a lot of amendments which could neutralize many of the budgets advantages.


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