Benton, Michigan shows what happens when the rich control power and deny others clean drinking water. Systemic racism and corporate donations to politicians pushing voter suppression highlight the importance of voting.
'Benton, a mostly Black town in Michigan has water that is more poisoned than Flint. St. Joseph a nearby white town has clean water. Republicans cut cost for poor communities and invested in white ones. Lead contaminated water supplies resulted. Whirlpool founded by Louis Upton, patriarch of the family is based in Bentonville and donates to Republicans like Jim Jordan and Fred Upton.' - Guardian
“This is America. We’ve already been deprived and red-lined out of the American dream. Is fresh drinking water, the thing that’s life, too much to ask? Make it make sense.” - Alice Adams, Benton Harbor City Comm.
Follow the money from corporate political donations, politicians ignoring the needs of their constituents, voter suppression and lead contaminated water for minority communities.
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Republicans suspend Democratic rule
"In the places where the Republican Party has been able to take over an insurmountable control of a State, Michigan for example, they have actually suspended democratic rule altogether if, in their view, the democratic rule wasn’t working to their satisfaction. I point to Benton Harbor Michigan, where a City Manager was appointed by the Republican Governor who was given the authority to ignore the City Council and just act on his own to run the city." - Father Knows Best
"Former Republican Governor of Michigan Rick Snyder over-ruled the elected representatives for Flint and appointed emergency managers. They switched the city’s water to the Flint River as a cost-saving step while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water was not treated to reduce corrosion, which caused lead to leak from old pipes and poison the distribution system used by nearly 100,000 residents". - Free Press
Clean water only for the rich?
"The federal lead action level is 15 parts per billion. Flint City has 20 parts per billion. Benton, has lead levels of 22 parts per billion and filed an emergency appeal with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for help. Children are at higher risk for kidney disease, stroke and hypertension. Studies have also connected lead exposure to incarceration for violent crime."
“Our health conditions are due to racism,” said the Rev Dr Don Tynes, a community activist and chief medical officer at the Benton Harbor Health Center, where he says he has seen the effects of lead contamination in his patients. “We need immediate relief.”
"Residents sense that the problems that have been allowed to persist in impoverished, predominantly Black Benton Harbor would have been solved immediately if they were taking place in whiter, wealthier St Joseph. “If it were St Joe, it would be getting done. And it would be getting done damn fast.” said Mary Alice Adams, a Benton Harbor city commissioner." - Guardian
Buy from companies aligned with your values
Whirlpool is turning Benton Harbor into something of a company town, while the Black population that has been here since the Great Migration is being forced out. “It’s coming,” Pinkney said of gentrification, as he drove through a development of large, lakeside homes near the golf course. “It’s just a matter of time.”
That golf course, built on land that had been part of one of the oldest public parks in the state, and the Whirlpool campus can seem a world away from the vacant lots, dilapidated homes and housing projects that dominate the rest of this city." - The Guardian
Whirlpool founded by Louis Upton, patriarch of the Upton family benefits from Republican tax cuts and donates to Republicans like Jim Jordan. (Source: Open Secrets)
“Whirlpool Corporation, which had global sales of $18 billion and turned a $619 million profit in 2010, likely won’t pay a dime of corporate income tax this year,” write the watchdogs over at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), “or for years to come, thanks in large part to an expensive lobbying blitz.” - Open Secrets
"Jordan claimed in October that Democrats were working to steal the election and spoke at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Pennsylvania two days after the election. In December, he said he didn't know how he could be convinced that "Trump didn't actually win" the election. Jordan also objected to the electoral college results and called for an investigation into the election." - CNN.
Michigan Republicans push voter suppression
The "Secure MI Vote" committee filed a proposed petition with the secretary of state's office that would tighten the state's voter ID law, ban the state from sending absentee ballot applications unless they are expressly requested, and bar outside groups from helping to fund elections. The Republican-led state Senate Oversight Committee released a report in June that found "no evidence of widespread or systemic fraud" and criticized conservatives who have tried to cash in on the lies. That hasn't stopped many Republican legislators from continuing to push for new voting restrictions." - Salon
Hold politicians and corporations accountable
Politicians are supposed to be accountable to their voters and when they do not do a good job, they can be voted out of office. Republicans fear the wrath of voters being forced to drink contaminated water and are resorting to voter suppression to cling to power. Corporations who for the sake of tax cuts, fund politicians working against the public interest should also be held accountable.