You Want Water? Well, Get a Bucket….

Water has been big news in Detroit this week.

That’s because the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has issued shut-off notices to thousands of delinquent customers, who have an average past-due bill exceeding $500.  And in a city facing bankruptcy, more than 90,000 of the 323,900 residents are delinquent in paying their bills.  According to an AP report, the amount of past-due payments exceeds $90 million.

But did public sentiment turn against the procrastinators, those who were so delinquent in paying their bills and so willing to let others carry the load?

Nope.  This is Detroit.  Public sentiment rallied behind those who had not paid their bills.  “Water,” politicians and citizens exclaimed, “is a basic human right.”

U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) petitioned President Obama to sanction use of an earlier multimillion-dollar award to Michigan, to apply the award monies toward delinquent water bills of low-income residents threatened by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s shutoff campaign.  Rep. Conyers has also asked Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to declare a public health emergency, calling the shutoff campaign “draconian” and warning of a “public health crisis,” raising concerns about what it could mean to the young, sick or elderly.

Liberal critics have likened Detroit to a Third World Country and have lodged a complaint with the United Nations, asking the international organization to become involved and force the city to restore water to the poor and needy.  Four liberal action groups–Blue Planet Project, Food & Water Watch, Detroit People’s Water Board and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization–have petitioned the United Nations, calling water a “basic human right.”

In response, the UN’s human right to water and sanitation expert Catarina de Albuquerque responded from the United Nations in Geneva:

“Disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying. In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections.”

At the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building, television news crews filmed noisy picketers, dressed in business suits and ties, demanding access to free water.  “They act arbitrarily,” one protester told a reporter, speaking of the Water Department, “without realizing the consequences of what they’re doing.”  Everyone needs water to wash their hands and their dishes and their hair….

Detroit’s water department, meanwhile, has reconfirmed that they do, in fact, step up to help an individual who contacts them, explaining that they can’t pay their bills.  The Water Department will either establish a payment plan which they can afford, or in some cases, they will put the needy person in touch with a social service agency that can provide long-term assistance.  The spigots which are running dry this week are not at homes where someone has really tried to solve the problem.  Rather, the waterless clients have tried to evade the system, simply tossing their bills in the round file.  And for a while, it’s worked.

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I know as well as the next person that water is essential for life.  I know that people need water to survive.  I know you need to cook, to clean, to wash your hands and your laundry.

I know that babies and old persons and pets need water to drink.

But here’s the thing:  The City of Detroit sits along a wide river.   If you’re thirsty, go get a bucket.  Go ahead–dip in, enjoy a swim at Belle Isle, and carry jugs back for the youngsters and the oldsters to enjoy later.  If you want to fill your swimming pool, you’ll need to work harder to siphon the water into jugs and transport them back to your homestead.  

If, however, you want water that’s been purified, filtered, treated with chemicals, pumped from a pumping station and delivered, hot or cold, to your kitchen sink, then SOMEONE has to be paid to do all of that work!

The way the system is set up, we all share in the cost of making that magic happen.

Why would you think for a minute that you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the assistance of plumbers and engineers, chemists and administrators and quality control officers, all of whom must be paid to support their own families?

There’s something about Democrat-think that has poisoned minds in America, creating an expectation of entitlement, regardless of the cost to others.


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  • Shaun G. Lynch

    Yesterday, in taking Hillary Clinton to task for her opposition to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, you advised that women who become pregnant due to an inability to afford contraceptives, should “Nurse those children, providing them with the ideal sustenance best suited for their developing bodies.”

    For the record, Kathy, clean water is part of that “ideal sustenance.”

    Here’s what a United Nations expert had to say about the situation:

    Because of a high poverty rate and a high unemployment rate, relatively expensive water bills in Detroit are unaffordable for a significant portion of the population.

    Leilani Farha, the expert on the right to adequate housing, expressed concern that children are being removed by social services from their families and homes because, without access to water, their housing is no longer considered adequate. “If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African Americans they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the US has ratified,” Farha added.

    (The population of Detroit is 83% African American, and they make up a disproportionately large component of the city’s poorest residents.)

    Anyone who wants an objective take on this story should read the entire press release from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Detroit Free Press also published a well-balanced editorial about the water shutoffs.

    Kathy, don’t have the audacity to call yourself pro-life if you advocate denying impoverished people the single most important life-sustaining consumable.

    … and I’d love to see you try to justify your reprehensible attitude before Pope Francis, in light of his repeated and impassioned pleas on behalf of the poor and vulnerable!

    • Dennis Neylon

      It is too bad you did not read enough of the articles in Detroit media to note that nearly 80 percent of those who were cut off managed to find a way to pay their bills. Or to note that the UN didn’t offer to pay for water, just to demand that “someone” should. The Free Press didn’t write a balance editorial — it wrote a typical editorial demanding that others should pay for those who refuse to be responsible for their own behavior. It is amazing that in the rest of south east Michigan, (and the country, for that matter), people routinely have their water turned off for non-payment and neither the UN nor Congress gets involved. But let a bankrupt city where many pay neither their water bills, their property taxes or their city taxes try to collect and it is a humanitaritarian tragedy!

      • Shaun G. Lynch

        Of course they paid within 48 hours! Obviously they would do whatever they could to pay their bills quickly. They had no water!!!

        But that raises additional questions to which any empathetic Roman Catholic should be sensitive: What did they have to give up in order to pay those bills? Who had to suffer, and how, in order to ensure that a utility company got its money?

        More fundamentally, can it ever be appropriate to withhold a necessity of life from anyone due to their inability to pay?

        The fact that people get their water cut off elsewhere in America due to inability to pay doesn’t change the fundamental barbarism of the wealthiest country in the world denying citizens something as fundamentally essential as clean water.

        And, as Catholics, we should never support such actions!!

  • Donalbain

    Imagine! How entitled do you have to be to expect something as luxurious as drinkable water? What next, will these good for nothing scumbags expect public education? Or law and order.
    What’s even worse is these disgusting poor people probably expect the water in the river to be clean, which is just another example of evil Democratic Party thinking with their environmental legislation and other nasty things like that.