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What President Obama Needs To Do in Flint


#1

What President Obama Needs To Do in Flint

Curt Guyette

Today, President Barack Obama visits Flint, Michigan. To write about what he will be seeing in the town whose water was poisoned through government mismanagement and neglect, Moyers and Company turned to Curt Guyette, a reporter whose initially lonely investigations of the scandal was recognized in New York City on Tuesday by the Sidney Hillman Foundation.


#2

All of the professional engineers that were involved in the process need to be severely disciplined for failing to intercede in this public health matter. If the governor wouldn't listen they should have trampled him underfoot on the way to the EPA. I am appalled at this dereliction of duty. A pox on all of the ethically challenged individuals who FAILED to protect the public.


#3

Few boot-licking sycophants are as transparent as the oddly-named Josh "Earnest."

How about this shit sandwich presented as perfectly reasonable advice:

"So I certainly would encourage people to continue to listen to the advice that they get from our scientific and public health experts about what water is safe to drink, and the president will certainly follow that advice."

Imagine if the ACLU never got involved? The "leaders" would still be insisting that the filthy muck pouring out of poor peoples' faucets was perfectly safe to drink!


#6

The accounts I have read elsewhere say that the local EPA administrator was even more "asleep at the switch", derelict in her duty, than the governor of Michigan. It was partly because she said "Everything's all right" that the governor didn't act earlier.


#7

Curt Guyette wrote in the article, along with other sentences, "People who, in the eyes of the state, simply couldn’t afford access to something as essential as clean, safe drinking water"

Actually, in the eyes of anyone looking, most of the people in impoverished Flint can't afford the "clean safe drinking water" they were obtaining from Detroit, or much of anything else. Which is why about half the streets have disappeared back into nature and the city is more or less bankrupt. "Clean safe drinking water" is not obtained without some cost, and more than 100 years ago most people in the world could not get "clean safe drinking water" and there were typhoid and cholera epidemics, etc.
-- And why must bankrupt Detroit provide water to Flint, if Flint won't or can't pay Detroit for it?

A few of the questions to be asked and pondered: "Must the rest of us provide 'clean safe drinking water' to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay?"


#8

Worth pausing to remark on your charge that under the rule of law there probably wasn't any law by which he could have arrested any bankers. Making stupid losing investments is not against the law. And the bankers wouldn't have bought up those loans for themselves if they hadn't been as mindless about "Home prices always go up!" as everyone else.

I agree that the banks shouldn't have been bailed out. They should have been put into bankruptcy and resolved according to the law. Their shareholders should have been wiped out. Their deposits should have gone to FDIC, and deposit values greater than the insured ceiling wiped out. Etc.
-- The establishment economists tell us that so many bank failures would have put the nation into Great Depression 2.0. I won't spend space here speculating if that would have really happened, or what we should have done instead. ...


#9

The real issue for me is how can a governor replace an elected mayor with an appointed manager ?? Isn't there some principle of a democratic republic that prevents this ?? Can the president of the U.S. replace an elected governor with an appointed manager ??


#11

Toxic water

Fetid Kool-Aid

It's dangerous to swallow either


#12

¿ Can a governor replace an elected mayor with an emergency fiscal manager?
-- The elected mayor has been there the whole time. But his/her/its authority has been subordinated to that of the emergency fiscal manager. -- You and I would have to check the law for what constitutional basis they are claiming.

Earlier today I was reading an article about Puerto Rico's 'bankruptcy'. One of several that have been written in the past week or more. Everyone in WashDC proposes changing the bankruptcy law to provide a legal method for resolving/repudiating Puerto Rico's debts.
-- The Democrats are proposing some sort of bailout of the Commonwealth. With an eye to getting votes from Puerto Ricans on the island and living elsewhere in the USA. The article points out that a bailout would enable the politicians there to keep on doing the things that got them into the mess. Just like bailing out the banks doesn't stop the banks from doing it again.
-- The Republicans insist on imposing a fiscal control board on Puerto Rico, much like the Federal Government had imposed one on New York City in the 1970s, and on Washington DC's local government in the 1990s. As the price for Federal assistance. This has the same sort of "principle of democratic republic" problem that you elkojohn mention. The article I read earlier today said that no Federal Control Board would very likely mean the same sort of imposed austerity that Greece has had for the past few years. Much the same impact on the local economy, but nastier politics than a Federal Control Board. Or maybe just as nasty.
-- Alternately, WashDC could do nothing, and Puerto Rico could live the next several years with lots of lawsuits demanding payment, and no access to Wall Street to borrow money.
-- Almost everyone is agreed that imposing too harsh a 'haircut' on the creditors would have a contagion effect, making it harder and more expensive for every state and municipality to borrow. I am pretty sure that there are many people on this forum who will argue that the lack of money available for borrowing can and should be made up by simply taxing the money from the wealthy. But there is a limit to that. For example, you can't tax the Chinese.

Now back to Flint. Resetting to more than two years ago, at the time when the governor appointed an Emergency Financial Manager, let us suppose that he had not. What would have happened? I have heard, with respect to a comparable situation in Illinois, a suggestion that the state of Illinois bail out that city. But Illinois itself is approximately bankrupt. Alternately, the governor could have done nothing. Then at some point Flint would have had to file for Ch.9 bankruptcy, and a Federal judge would have appointed some sort of Emergency Financial Manager to straighten things out.


#13

I agree that it would have been better to bail out depositors through FDIC according the terms of that federal deposit insurance than to bail out the banks. The bank stockholders should have been allowed to suffer the consequences of buying too many mortgages that went bad. The limits on liability of stockholders of corporations in general is the only mercy that should have been shown to the bank stockholders.


#14

Agreed.
I forgot to mention: Such a large number of bank failures would have probably bankrupted the FDIC too. That is why the FDIC usually tries to sweet-talk some other bank into buying a failed bank instead of taking it over and resolving it according to the law.
(-- Historic note. The FSLIC really was bankrupted back in the Savings and Loan Crisis c.1990)
-- The Congress would have had to bail out the FDIC.
-- Probably still better than what did happen. :slight_smile:


#15

Thanks for helping me understand some of this stuff.
I would prefer Flint to go to bankruptcy court.
All parties would have the opportunity to negotiate an agreement
prior to going to the judge.
If they can't agree, then the judge dictates the plan.
I am still opposed to the Governor appointing a financial manager
which transforms the elected municipal government
to an un-elected, autocratic government.
With bankruptcy, both Flint and investors take a haircut.
With financial manager austerity, only Flint takes a haircut,
-- investors smile all the way to the bank.