When Money Matters More Than Lives: The Poisonous Cost of Austerity in Flint, Michigan
Not a terrible idea, on its face. Just the kind of technocratic and efficient cost-cutting that Snyder, who likes to call himself “one tough nerd,” made central to his political brand. But the problem, as you might have guessed, was that this idea was more clever than good. After all, it doesn’t really matter how cheap your water is if it’s poisoned:
Residents started complaining about the water’s smell and taste almost immediately, saying it caused rashes, hair loss, and other health problems. A nearby General Motors plant said the water was damaging its car parts and quit using it. At one point, residents had to boil water due to bacteria.
But the city assured them that everything was fine, and that the bad smell and taste didn’t necessarily indicate other problems. They claimed federal tests showed the water was safe.
Even as other problems with Flint’s water were uncovered — bacterial contamination, as well as high levels of other contaminants that can cause liver problems — the lead poisoning remained hidden.