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.