Deadbeat residents in Detroit, Michigan, can’t pay their water bills. All roughly 17,000 of them. However, no one quite knows how many of those bills represent persons still living in Detroit, and those who have abandoned their homes. Because, in general, Detroit looks much like this:
Detroit Residents: Restore Our Water
Detroit Homeowners Delinquent in Making Payments Testify About Hardships
by Matthew Dolan
DETROIT—In this bedeviled city struggling to convince residents to pay their bills, a slash of blue spray paint on front lawns serves as a kind of scarlet letter of debt.
“I was really embarrassed. I started to cry,” Carol Ann Bogden, a 68-year-old retired emergency-room nurse told a federal judge Monday, describing how city water department officials marked her home before shutting off service in July.
During the last two years, the city’s water and sewerage department has put its mark on tens of thousands of residences. With the help of advocacy groups, some homeowners are suing to restore service and stop future residential shut-offs for at least six months.
Your problem, madame, is that you still live in and believe in Detroit. I’d have guessed you’d understood that basic conundrum from its establishment because, as a nurse, you are clearly not stupid.
People in the rest of the United States laugh out loud at the so-called “predicament” of Detroit. They predominantly ignore you because they perceive you as too stupid to understand your plight. They readily compare Detroit to Hiroshima.
And your expectations of some kind of deus ex machina.
But wait. Aren’t those blacks? Protesting the decisions of blacks? Because blacks are mostly in charge of Detroit?
Urban experts see Detroit’s dilemma as a result of the city’s inability to cover the expense of an outsize infrastructure system built when the city’s population approached 2 million. As of 2013, the city had about 688,000 residents.
“Detroit is a bit like a teenager who has inherited an expensive sedan—the car may have been free, but he doesn’t have the income to cover the insurance or maintenance and maybe not even the gas,” Harvard University economics professor Edward Glaeser said in an email.
But here’s where it gets even better:
The utility cutoffs in Detroit amid its municipal bankruptcy have drawn international criticism, including from a United Nations group that alleged the city was violating basic human rights for water.
There you go. The United Nations now involving itself in Detroit.
Let’s go a bit deeper into the topic, shall we?
Now AlJazeera.net weighs in.
UN panel: Detroit water cutoffs violate human rights
A large-scale water shutoff is underway in Detroit, a move that advocates say is taking its toll on the poor
by Amel Ahmed
A United Nations team of experts said Wednesday that Detroit officials’ decision to shut off water service to thousands of residents who are late in paying bills is an affront to human rights.
“Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights,” the U.N. officials said in a news release. “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.”
The U.N. assessment comes days after a coalition of welfare rights groups — including the Detroit People’s Water Board, Food and Water Watch and Canada-based Blue Planet Project — pleaded in an open letter for the world body to intervene.
A wonderful way to invite the United Nations into the once-sovereign country formerly known as the United States of America.
Here is one amazing thing: the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) actually expects to try to acquire a minimal percentage of its bills due.
How onerous to think that DWSD should have to maintain an ancient infrastructure heretofore unaddressed. How terrible to think that the DWSD should attempt even briefly to recoup costs it had to place up front. That it had to attempt to replace pipes and motors and systems once ignored? Hello, anyone? Infrastructure?
That said, however: should these bills be dismissed summarily due to the overall goodness of the UN?
But wait. It gets better.
The No. 1 scofflaw isn’t a business but the State of Michigan, which the department said owes more than $5 million. Dave Murray, deputy press secretary for Gov. Rick Snyder (who is sheparding Detroit through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history) said the bills have been disputed for the last five years over a possible broken water main near the old state fairgrounds in the city limits, which was mothballed several years ago.
And, with UN intervention, should not everything in Detroit simply “get better”?
With that, the UN is invited.
The UN weighs in, as per AlJazeera.com:
The large-scale service shutoffs risk being inequitable, according to Leilani Farha, one member of the U.N. team. “If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African-Americans they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the U.S. has ratified,” Farha said in the press release.
She urged the U.S. government to ensure due process guarantees in relation to water disconnections.
According to international human rights law, states are obligated to provide urgent remedial measures, including financial assistance, to ensure access to essential water and sanitation. “The households which suffered unjustified disconnections must be immediately reconnected,” the U.N. experts said.
Further, in consideration of the UN, I have a suggestion.
Remove the UN from US shores.
Then, further, turn the UN buildings into either 1) expensive condos or 2) low income apartments.
My my my.
Nothing better than that.