Government Must Guarantee Our Basic Needs

A protest at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality office in Detroit denounces the poisoning of water, dumping of poisons in sewage system, and expansion of the hazardous waste plant. PHOTO/DAYMONJHARTLEY.

A protest at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality office in Detroit denounces the poisoning of water, dumping of poisons in sewage system, and expansion of the hazardous waste plant.

“Our water has been poisoned. Why? Who is wanting to do this to us?” asked a young schoolgirl at a Chicago meeting. Officials knew the drinking water in her school was contaminated with lead yet did nothing to prevent the children from drinking it.

In an investigative report launched in the wake of the crisis in Flint, Michigan, by the Guardian newspaper, officials in 33 out of 43 cities across 17 states reviewed have been “cheating” when testing the water systems for lead. Where’s the government response in defense of the people?

Furthermore, corporations have dumped toxic chemicals into water sources while government agencies look the other way, putting those who must use it to bathe and drink at risk for cancer and other deadly diseases. Recently, 100,000 residents in northern Alabama were warned by their water supplier not to drink or cook with tap water because of dangerous manmade compounds found in the Tennessee River.

And in Detroit, Flint, and Baltimore, water shut-offs to the poorest workers continue while delinquent businesses receive a pass.

Water is the new “gold” for corporations such as Nestlé, the world’s largest bottling company. Nestlé pumps water for free from the Great Lakes Basin while Flint residents are forced to pay for poisoned water. Nestlé was given $13 million in tax breaks to move its operations to Michigan, and in Fryeburg, Maine, the governor granted a subsidiary of Nestlé a contract to take over their public water system for profit for up to 45 years.

Public control of water and other necessities such as housing, health care and education, is central to the fight for survival of a section of the working class displaced by automation, and whom the capitalist system and its billionaire owners no longer need in production.

However, the now corporate-run government is helping corporations profit by handing key areas of the economy such as schools, healthcare and water systems over to them while taxpayers foot the bill. This is a form of nationalization in the rulers’ interests. Meanwhile workers are demanding that government help them instead of bailing out the corporations.

The battle against the corporate “solution” to a dying economic system and the growing dispossession of millions of workers is being waged by new grassroots organizations. They are demanding that government fix the nation’s failing infrastructure, get the lead out of the pipes, provide safe, affordable water to all, protect water as a public trust, and make Medicare available for all in response to the poisoning of our children. And, they are demanding an end to the spreading corporate dictatorship.

The question is: “Why does anyone have the “right” to privately own our natural resources?”  If the corporations cannot provide for our needs, then we must demand that government will. The demand that government provides health care, housing, education and water and guarantees them for the people is nationalization—or government takeover of the corporations—in the people’s interests. These demands are a bridge to a new society where the abundance produced is distributed to all based on need. After all, what is a society for if not to provide for the well being of the people so that we may live peacefully together?

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