What really poisoned Flint, Michigan’s water

One big difference between the rich and the poor in our country is that the rich don’t tend to have their drinking water poisoned by their own governor.
Not that Republican Gov. Rick Snyder personally dumped poison into Flint, Michigan’s water, but by dumping his small-minded, ideological, budget-whacking policies on the people of this largely-poor community, he did, in fact, poison them. Worse, when Flint’s families complained that their tap water was oddly colored, nasty tasting, stinky, and causing rashes on their children, Snyder and his top officials denied there was a problem, even when residents showed jugs of the brownish liquid to them. It’s a myth, claimed the authorities, accusing locals of “trying to turn [the issue] into a political football” and asserting that the complainers were just being finicky about the aesthetics of their water.
Aesthetics? A General Motors factory in Flint had to quit using the water because it was corroding metal engine parts, and a hospital quit because the water was damaging its medical instruments!
Finally, after out-of-state toxicity experts confirmed that Flint’s water constitutes a major public health emergency, Snyder and crew were forced to switch from denial to damage control. He has since apologized to Flint residents and is trying to save face (and his job) by promising to “fix” the mess he made. Yet, when queried about whether he would pay to replace the city’s lead-leaching water pipes, he demurred, using the old dodge that “more studies are needed.”
The mess is not just in the water, however. Flint reveals that there is a much deeper contamination poisoning our country’s political morals: Namely, an insidious right-wing belief that poor people (particularly people of color who’re poor) are underserving moochers whose misfortunes can be ignored – even when their misfortunes stem directly from the discriminatory practices of slippery elites like Snyder, who’re showing that they’re not fit to hold public office.
“Would Flint crisis occur in a rich suburb?” Austin American Statesman, January 25, 2016.
“As Water Problems Grew, Officials Belittled Complaints From Flint,”
“Michigan’s Great Stink,” The New York Times, January 25, 2016.
“America The Unfair,” The New York Times, January 21, 2016.
“Flint Wants Safe Water, and Someone to Answer for Its Crisis,” The New York Times, January 10, 2016.

How Budweiser locks out free enterprise competitors

The word “free” in “free enterprise” is not an adjective, it’s a verb – as in, let’s “free up” the enterprise of small businesspeople who’re locked out of the marketplace by monopoly power.
From cable TV to chickens, market after market has been seized by a few corporations, enabling them to set prices, cut quality, and shrink service. We could cry in our beer about that, but even brewskis are falling to monopolists. The latest (and biggest) example is the proposed merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev with SABMiller, creating colossus that would control a third of all beer sales in the world and a whopping 70 percent of all US sales.
Yet, the resulting A-B InBev behemoth asserts that there’ll be no anti-trust problems, because hundreds of small breweries are popping up like dandelions everywhere, creating a wide-open competition for customers.
How free-enterprise-y! And fallacious. You see, to get customers, first you have to be able to get to them – ie, be able to get your beers in the bars and on store shelves. That access is mostly controlled in the US by beer wholesalers, and they decide which products they will – and will not – distribute. Now, guess which big honking beer maker has been aggressively buying up wholesale distributorships in recent years? Yes, A-B InBev, giving it the power in various markets to lock out those pesky small breweries. No shelf space, no sales. No sales, no business.
Anheuser-Busch InBev gloats that it will be the “first truly global brewery.” But who cares? We quaffers of the brewers’ art don’t want One Big Beer, but many good ones – and this bully is becoming “global” only by rigging the market to shut down our good beers. To revolt against this monopolizer, connect with the California Craft Brewers Association: www.CaliforniaCraftBeer.com.
“Will Mega Mergers Hurt the Craft Beer Boom?” The New York Times, October 22, 2015.