Over the course of the past few years there was little reporting on the numerous times the United Nations has condemned the one-time “shining city on a hill” that is America. Although Americans believe they live in a veritable Utopia of prosperity and happiness, the U.N., and many of its various committees on poverty, human and civil rights, and democracy has regularly condemned the richest nation on the planet for its treatment of its own citizenry who are either subject to slave-wage conditions, homelessness, or dire poverty. And it is noteworthy that the target of their criticism is either specifically Republicans or their policies.
While touring the globe to investigate extreme poverty, a United Nations official said on Thursday that areas of Alabama are “suffering the most dire sewage disposal crisis of any place he has visited in a developed country”. Philip Alston is the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights who said after a visit to Alabama that:
“It’s very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I’d have to say that I haven’t seen this.”
It is noteworthy to mention that the U.N. regards clean water and sewage a basic human right in any country, much less a “developed First World nation,” so this latest shameful revelation will contribute to the UN’s prior criticism of America’s disregard and mistreatment of its own citizens.
The area Mr. Alston was visiting was Alabama’s “Black Belt;” so named for its rich soil. The Special Rapporteur witnessed an entire community where “raw sewage flows from homes through exposed pipes into open trenches and pits.” He also saw the water supply pipes with holes running “through the fetid area.”
The U.N. official went to Alabama specifically to see for himself how the wealthiest nation on Earth treats its poorest areas with a gross “lack of access to basic services that have plagued poor, mostly African American residents for generations.” Mr. Alston was also concerned about the poor’s struggles to enjoy even basic civil rights that America used to champion around the world.
The Special Rapporteur and his team are in the midst of a 15-day tour of the U.S. to gather information for a scheduled report on poverty and human rights abuses in America to be released next Spring. Mr. Alston took the time to speak with local residents and he told one resident that experiences “raw sewage bubbling up into his backyard” in an area where “residents often fall ill with ailments like E. Coli and hookworm” that is an atrocity to have to live in those conditions. Those conditions also included “unreliable electricity service” to accompany unreliable access to “clean drinking water that has not been tainted by raw sewage;” it is what the U.N. official said represents a “dereliction of duty.”
Mr. Alston made it clear that the U.N. is aware that the poor are living in subhuman conditions due to “the unwillingness of the government to help people with no access to basic services like reliable electricity, clean water and sewage management.” Alston said the purpose of his tour wasn’t to look for reasons to criticize America:
“The hope is that we’ll bring attention to [these problems], just like we bring attention to people who are being tortured. There is a human right for people to live decently, and that means the government has an obligation to provide people with the essentials of life, which include power, water and sewage service. But if the government says, ‘oh no, we’re not going to do it,’ and leaves you to install very expensive septic tanks, that’s not how it should work.”
The sad fact of life is that is exactly how it is going to work going forward with Republicans and their corporate thugs running the government. There is a reason Republicans are handing over the wealth of the nation to the wealthy and corporations that goes beyond making them richer; they want to “shrink” the government to eliminate whatever services it provides to the people.
It is precisely what the trickle down effort in Kansas intended, and achieved, and it is why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Kansas Governor Sam Brownback “it’s what we want to do in Washington” when we control the government. And it is why Republicans are willing to keep Trump in the White House; to aid in “dismantling the administrative state;” or what regular people call “the government.” If there is no government, then there are no provisions or protections for the people. That is one of the main goals of Republicans and their money-machine the Koch brothers in “shrinking government;” get it to a size Republicans can “drown in a bathtub.” The impending Republican tax giveaway to the rich is only the beginning.
Remember, besides adding trillions to the deficit and raising taxes on the poor and middle class, the GOP tax plan, coupled with the Heritage Foundation’s “skinny budget,” drastically slashes spending on every segment of government except the military industrial complex and “the Church.” It does not matter one iota what the United Nations says about “how it (government) should work” or its “obligation to provide the people with the essentials of life.”
With a rubber stamp in the White House, Republicans are intent on starving the government to death to enrich the wealthy and corporations and the people be god-damned to Hell. For dog’s sake, if Republicans are taking away healthcare from children, seniors and the poor, there is no way they are going to meet their obligations and give people access to the “essentials of life” like clean water, adequate sewage management, or reliable electrical service.
It is worth noting that in past opinion pieces one thought Republicans would be humiliated, and Congress shamed, into taking action to correct the inequities plaguing America, but the opposite has proven true. The conditions will only get worse and it is not a coincidence that as Republicans gained greater control over the government and spending, the criticism from the United Nations human and civil rights watchdog(s) have increased in frequency and severity.
The UN report in the Spring will get exactly the same coverage from the main stream media as the other reports and condemnations against American civil and human rights abuses against its own citizens; little to none. And Republicans will react precisely as they have in the past and ramp up their Draconian efforts against their poorest constituents to further dirty Donald’s pledge to make America great – for the filthy rich and their predatory corporations. And sadly, most of the same people who put Republicans in charge of dismantling the government will continue voting for them religiously because god, guns and fetuses.