The Flint disaster can happen in your city too

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released their last infrastructure report card in 2013 and gave the United States an overall D+. This country’s infrastructure is in dismal shape, which means many people have been, are being, and will be harmed in some way, be it via a bridge collapse, poisoned water, crumbling schools, sewage or oil leaking into the ground or homes (yes, sewage leaking into the home has happened to me (in New Jersey) and to my parents (in Indiana)), and sadly, the list goes on.

Investment in infrastructure is imperative to prevent it from collapsing all around us. Failure to do this not only poses great safety risks to the public but is also a drain on our economy. Investment doesn’t mean using taxpayer dollars only—private-public partnerships should be sought. Infrastructure must be better regulated too. Some may scream there is too much regulation and perhaps on paper that is true, but time and time again it is revealed post-disaster that systems and equipment were not being adequately maintained or regulated. Prioritizing penny-pinching and profit-seeking over people’s safety should never be an acceptable way to operate.

The Flint, Michigan, water situation could have been avoided. It is an example of the devastating consequences when poor governance, lax oversight, minimal to no accountability to the public, poverty, austerity, and aging, unsafe, or contaminated infrastructure collide. The Republican Governor with his mania for austerity and appointing emergency managers (in Flint, Pontiac, Detroit, Highland Park, Benton Harbor, to name a few) has contributed a good deal to this crisis—and yes, he did, no matter how much some people want to spin it. Governor Rick Snyder asserts that Flint’s water crisis was only brought to his attention in October 2015. Even if that proves to be true, why did he wait three months before taking any action to right this wrong? Continue reading

Advertisements

WAKE UP, AMERICA!!!

The past few weeks, I have been discussing our country’s educational woes.  It is a topic very near and dear to me, but I was looking forward to moving on.  There is never a shortage of material, with all the issues facing us.  My plan was to seek out what other hidden traps set our children up for failure instead of success.  I intended to look at the issues that were important today, but would be crucial for future generations.

What I found, though, was crazy!  I was continually sidetracked by stories too ridiculous to believe.

***In Florida, we have Kiera Wilmot being expelled from school for a science experiment gone wrong.  What’s more, this 16-year-old is being prosecuted, as an adult, for discharging a weapon on school grounds.  Ms. Wilmot, who has always been an exemplary student, was in the process of completing a chemistry experiment involving a bottle and toilet cleaner.  Unfortunately, the bottle exploded.  Thankfully, no one was injured and no property was destroyed.  This didn’t stop the county prosecutor, Tammy Glotfelty, from deciding  to throw the book at her.

I understand the zero tolerance policy a lot of our schools have.  I also understand the fear of terroristic activity.  But this is just crazy!  What are we coming to when a curious child, with an interest in chemistry, can become a convicted felon?  This was no vengeful, hateful act.  It was an accident.  Glotfelty is, after all, aware of what accidents are.  She had decided the week prior not to prosecute the young teenaged boy who shot and killed his younger brother with a BB gun.  That was a “tragic accident”, in her view.  How can one be deemed accidental and the other criminal?  Hmmm.

***I learned of the fact that lawmakers, in Michigan, had tackled bullying legislation.  The law, Matt’s Safe School Law, was named after Matt Epling, who committed suicide in the wake of relentless and damaging school bullying.  Well…what is so wrong with that?  What’s wrong is that the law actually makes bullying legal on the basis of moral conviction or religious belief.  How crazy is that?  Bullying is never okay, unless…

Think homosexuality is immoral?  Well, then, harassment is okay because of said moral convictions.  This law does not tackle bullying.  It provides an excuse for bigotry and hatred.  Period.  Interestingly enough, this law teaches that bullying is not so bad as long as your bigotry can be justified by your faith.  It demonstrates just how many people want us to focus, not on the hateful act performed, but on the so-called pure intentions behind it.  I wonder exactly how many of those very same people take into account the fact that Muslim terrorists also have strong moral and religious convictions?  Hmmm.

***Meanwhile, an “accident” in Kentucky broke my heart before making me frighteningly angry.  Two year old Caroline Sparks lost her life to a gun owned by her five-year old brother.  Yes, a five-year old shot and killed his two-year old sister.  Crazy, right?

This tragedy unfolded in rural Kentucky, where “kids gets their first guns before starting first grade”.  The gun, made by Crickett, was given to five-year old Kristian Sparks as a gift.  It remains unclear from whom.  The gun,”My First Rifle”, was marketed especially for children.  A deadly weapon…marketed especially for children.  Even worse, the gun was stashed in a corner.  In.  A.  Corner.  Foregoing the debate on whether a toddler even needed a gun, the irresponsibility of keeping it “stored” in the corner is staggering.  If Americans  are going to teach their children the joys of their second amendment rights, they should also be responsible for teaching them the safe and proper way to handle and store the damned things!

**Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.  – W.E.B. Du Bois**

What are we?  Our children look to us, whether they admit it or not, for direction and purpose.  They are watching the way we handle situations.  I am not too proud of what they are observing.

Are we truly a nation that punishes academic curiosity?  A nation where science is politicized?  According to this, maybe we are.

Are we actually content with the idea that faith and personal morals are justifiable grounds for bigotry and hatred?  Or harassment and bullying?  According to this, maybe we are.

Are we really okay with adults, who should know better, being irresponsible with dangerous deadly weapons?  According to this, maybe we are.

I hesitate to use a fringe slogan, but….WAKE UP, AMERICA!!!