Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Neoliberal Business Model - To Blame for West Virginia's Water Poisoning

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I don’t believe anyone. I don’t believe anything they talk about on the news. I don’t believe our governors, our high officials, I don’t believe any of them are telling us the truth. I believe they are just telling us what they want to tell us. I just feel like we are lab rats. I feel like they are just hanging around to see, and then maybe five years from now they will be able to tell us what happened, because I just don’t think they know, nor do I think they care.”  - Twylla Bays, quoted in The Guardian (Sept. 14) after learning how her daughter's illness was traced to Freedom Industries' delay in notifying citizens about the MCHM coal cleaner spill into the Elk River.

The above quote of  West Virginia mom Twylla Bays,  from The Guardian (UK),  embodies the basis of Neoliberalism and its business model in respect to citizens'  health and welfare. That is, the Elk River chemical spill (of  the coal cleaner  methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM).)  discloses yet another example of the government and industry -business displaying staggering indifference to the lives and welfare of state citizens. The purpose, as for all Neoliberalism, is to preserve profits while rendering citizens expendable and their lives subordinate to amassing those profits. Hence, Mrs. Bays description of being merely "lab rats." The reason, as we know, is that Neoliberal market values deny any security for the citizen in order to promote higher profits and market share. The Neoliberal government factors in as an accomplice because it passes legislation that enables perpetrators - such as Freedom Industries - to escape.  Thus, Freedom Industries could declare bankruptcy, dissolve its charter and become instantly unaccountable.

 Twylla Bays' case is particularly appalling and galling. As reported in The Guardian piece, her 29-year old daughter Cassy suffers from muscular dystrophy and had to have water pumped by syringe into her gastric feeding tube. Because the West Virginia authorities (and Freedom Industries)  dillied and dallied about notifying the public of the toxic spill, Twyla injected tap water into Cassy's feeding tube.  As The Guardian notes (ibid.):

"In the space of 30 minutes, Cassy who  has muscular dystrophy and is on a ventilator, had seven bouts of diarrhea."

The Guardian goes on:

At about that time, 15 miles away in Charleston, West Virginia, executives of West Virginia American Water and state officials were deciding when and how to tell 300,000 people their water was not safe to drink.

The problem is that by 5 p.m. when authorities finally got off their asses, Twylla had given Cassy two more 150 cubic centimeter injections of the fouled water, increasing her misery. She hadn't yet been informed by the Neoliberal bastards that this water she was injecting into her daughter's feeding tube was "so contaminated it was only fit for flushing toilets."  (Twylla believed that her daughter had a virus, and only realized after the notification finally came out, that she'd effectively been poisoning her daughter with the tap water.)

Such is the Neoliberal Business model and how it cares for people. The idea that the company and authorities didn't know what to do is also nonsense. The information on  MCHM was already well known, see e.g.

Neoliberal Businesses simply  don't care, however, about the unsavory facts that might negatively impinge on their profit over people model. Unlike righteous business (and gov't), which would act on the precautionary principle, i.e. instantly notifying every citizen the moment the spill occurred, based on the likelihood that even 1 part per billion in water might be deleterious to health.

Meanwhile, since the spill and according to The  Guardian (ibid.):

Now, more than a month later, the tell-tale liquorice scent of MCHM still hangs over the storage tank farm on the Elk River that was the source of the contamination. The hot water carries a faint chemical smell in small communities to the north-west and north-east of Charleston. There are still traces in some homes of the white residue that settled on dishes in the early days, after officials told the public it was safe to use the water

Which means citizens are having to spend their meager,  precious income to purchase bottled water, money they can't afford. But the alternative is too horrendous to contemplate - and as Twylla observes in her quote - they can't trust the government (state or federal) to tell them the truth. The reason is that both serve the Neoliberal model and that model doesn't give two craps about anyone who isn't a 'player' or huge money contributor.

Want to clean up the country's water, including the pollution from a recent coal ash spill into a river in North Carolina?  Then clean out the Neoliberals. Better yet, as one commenter on The Guardian forum put it:

"Grab all of them, then tar and feather them before running them out!"

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