Flint Water Crisis

Walmart, Other Corporations Are Donating Water Bottles to Flint: Guess Who Can't Stand That

Certain liberal writers

|

Flint
RT

Heartless, profit-driven corporations like Walmart, Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co., and Nestle have pledged to donate millions of water bottles to the people of Flint, Michigan. Meanwhile, government officials are still pointing fingers and trying to figure out which state or local agency screwed up and allowed city residents to consume toxic water for months.

According to The Atlantic's David Graham (emphasis mine):

That these firms are stepping up to deliver water is good news for Flint's schools and citizens in the immediate term. But a one-time infusion of gallons of fresh water doesn't do much to address the systemic failures of government that led to the water crisis in the first place. By making four for-profit corporations into a de facto public utility, the gift might actually risk making things worse in the long run.

Wait, what? How could the gift be a bad thing? Graham elaborates:

Walmart, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Pepsi aren't just charitable organizations that might have their own ideologies. They're for-profit companies. And by providing water to the public schools for the remainder of the year, the four companies have effectively supplanted the local water authorities and made themselves an indispensable public utility, but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability. Many people in Flint may want government to work better, but with sufficient donations, they may find that the private sector has supplanted many of government's functions altogether.

Let me get this straight: when corporations put profits first, they are accused of undermining social institutions with their greed—when they unquestionable put people first… they are also accused of undermining social institutions!

In any case, it's worth asking whether the private sector supplanting government functions is actually a bad thing. Despite what liberals like Dana Milbank and Katrina vanden Heuvel think, privatization and austerity are not the causes of the Flint water crisis: government mismanagement, regulatory failure, and Keynesian fiscal stimulus are. If the private sector can deliver affordable, clean water to Flint, why shouldn't people prefer it? Is government-managed delivery of public goods really an absolute moral necessity, even if the government is bad at delivering said public goods?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

128 responses to “Walmart, Other Corporations Are Donating Water Bottles to Flint: Guess Who Can't Stand That

  1. KKKorporations!

    1. They’re the most evil things in this country. That’s why we need a strong man like Bernie Sanders in the White House. He’ll give those corporations what for!

      1. They’ll pay 95% tax and like it! And if they try to leave… well, we’ll just tax the ones that stay even more! Because patriotism or something! Fair share!

      2. Yeah. Corporations aren’t supposed to give stuff to people until the duly-appointed government court forces them to.

        $0.00 = obscene profits!

        1. in the 90s, i was appointed to raise funds for my college’s “free taxi ride home” program. It paid cabbies to drive intoxicated college kids home without charge. I persuaded/pressured/cajoled some local beer + booze distributors to donate $5,000 each. To my surprise & delight, Coors offered double what I requested ($10,000) and, when i told the Anheuser-Busch rep, he offered to match Coors. I felt like the greatest guy ever.

          But the MADD sjw’s running the program flat refused to accept any “blood money” from alcohol korporationz. Apparently i’d failed to obtain proper authorization from the Top Women. The next year, the free taxi program was terminated as too expensive. A few drunk kids died, but progressive credentials remained 100% intact.

          1. Shit like that makes me want to punch someone.

            Should have just set up a private charitable foundation and gladly taken their donations, with a big middle finger to the teapot totalitarians.

  2. And how many people have Walmart, Nestle, and Coke poisoned lately? Had a recurring “discussion” with someone who was anti McDonalds. I asked him when the last time was that someone had gotten sick at McDonalds, a company that serves billions of hamburgers. If a single person got sick at McD’s, you’d never hear the end of it.

    1. Chipotle got a few people sick?

      Except they were doing the Right Thing when they did it so that doesn’t count.

      1. And guess who owns Chipotle.

        1. McDonald’s fully divested from Chipotle Mexican Grill in 2006.

          1. Facts. How do they work?

          2. Huh. I wonder why.

      2. I mean, I’ll take a case of the shits over lead poisoning any day.

      3. some people are thinking corporate espionage just to odd to have the differing but similar problems in locations so far apart. or maybe they weren’t pay off the correct government agency.

    2. That’s actually a really good point.

      They sell billions of hamburgers, and yet you never hear about food poisoning or anything of the sort from McDonalds. Hmmm…. I wonder why that is? Could it be that as a for-profit company, they depend on happy customers in order to remain successful, and are therefore accountable in a way that a government monopoly can never be? And that in turn drives them to ensure a quality product?

      Nah. That couldn’t be it.

      1. I hear what you’re saying. I want to agree with you. I really, really do, because the overall point is both completely valid and extremely important. But…

        I just can’t in good conscience admit that McDonald’s delivers a “quality product”. My bowels have been betrayed one too many times.

        Though, now that I’m thinking about it, a McGriddle does sound pretty amazing right now

        1. My bowels have been betrayed one too many times.

          I’ve had this happen, too. However, I eat McDonald’s rarely, which means my body probably isn’t used to it, which probably is one of the reasons why it can wreak havoc on intestinal tracts.

          I’ve had healthy smoothies and salads do the same thing to my body as well.

          1. Exactly. If you went to the grocery store in the last week, you would have seen that the entire section of bagged salad products was completely empty. There were several cases of Listeria poisoning (personally, I spent about three days spewing out of both ends as fast as it could go).

            I’ve never gotten sick at McD’s (or Wendy’s or Steak and Shake, etc.).

        2. Getting the shits isn’t the same thing as getting poisoned. I’ve gone to Le Cirque and had the shits after. Hell, I’ve cooked homemade meals and given myself the shits. Doesn’t have anything to do with quality; it just happens.

        3. and if you don’t like McDonald’s quality, you are free to go down the street to Wendy’s Burger King, Five Guys, Hardee’s, Sheetz…OMG, do we really that many different burger joints? Think of the starving children.

          “but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability”

          Public regulation and accountability is enforced by the market. The more choices the better. The customers and shareholders will decide.

          1. Exactly, the best way to ensure a lack of accountability is to let a government do something. If things go fruit-shaped, they’ll hide behind fifty layers of bureaucrats and miscellany and you’ll never be able to determine who should be held accountable. On top of that, you can’t even sue unless they decide to let you do so.

      2. yea but McD’s is not environmentally responsible and mowing down forest to grow cows and stuff.

      3. Clearly you don’t appreciate the efforts that the government is providing on your behalf. If the government food inspectors weren’t out there making sure that McD’s met some legislated hygiene standard, then McD’s would always be serving you cockroach burgers with a dash of rat poison.* We just need more of that bureaucracy providing oversight for the water supply. Accountability based on desire to make a profit is just part of your KKKapitalist delusion.

        * Currently this is just part of a seasonal menu.

      4. Also, when teh evil KKKorporations poison someone, they generally aren’t handed $80 million to “do better next time…” unlike the state of Michigan, which was rewarded with federal tax dollars for this debacle.

        1. So true!

  3. Is government-managed delivery of public goods really an absolute moral necessity, even if the government is bad at delivering said public goods?

    What are we defining “public good” as?

    1. Everything?

      1. Yeah. That’s problematic.

    2. I would say that, strictly speaking, a ‘public good’ should be defined as water, electricity, and civil services at the most basic level.

      I’m not saying that the government doesn’t define it more broadly these days (to basically include everything that anyone could possibly want at any given moment), but if we’re being reasonable, that’s how I would define it.

      1. I would say that, strictly speaking, a ‘public good’ should be defined as water, electricity, and civil services at the most basic level.

        A “public good” is a an economic good that is non-excludable. Water, electricity, and civil services are excludable and hence not “public goods”. Perhaps you don’t understand the meaning of the word “good” in this context.

        that’s how I would define it.

        The term “public good” isn’t up for debate or redefinition.

        1. To be fair I think you could make a case that the distribution systems for water and electricity could be considered public goods; water more-so than electricity.

          1. I’d think electricity more than water. There are lots of privately-run and co-op water systems outside major cities, and in rural areas most folks have their own well.

            OTOH particularly in cities sewer service is absolutely vital, and garbage collection nearly so.

          2. No, neither water nor electricity are public goods; not even close. They are excludable and (as Chipper) points out) they are also rivalrous.

        2. It has to be non-excludable AND non-rivalrous, to distinguish from common goods, such as wild fish stocks.

      2. In my town in Pa, we have two privately owned water companies who contract with local governments, much like cable TV companies, to provide service to those municipalities.

        The sewage plant is owned by the nearby city, who had a long running feud with the suburbs on how it was funded. IIRC surpluses were being funneled into the city’s general fund. I pay the city to process my sewage, and my township to maintain the pipes to get it there.

  4. Walmart, et al are unregulated? Since when?

    1. Don’t you know that pharmaceuticals are unregulated? That’s how Shkreli was able to jack up the price of Daraprim.

      Don’t you know that banks are unregulated? That’s how they crashed the economy in 2008.

      I’m waiting to use this image the next time my FB friends say something heavily regulated is unregulated.

    2. Absolutely unregulated. That’s why when one shopping cart was next to the eyewash station (and on the far side of it from where you’d be coming from, in the corner, not blocking it) the store I worked at during college was fined $17K.

    3. They didn’t ask permission from government to deliver all that free water to Flint, so obviously they are unregulated.

      Think of the children. Or something.

  5. They’re “pointing figures”? Can you guys please, please, please hire a fucking copy editor? It’s like I’m reading a friend’s drunken texts every time I log on here. Are you professional journalists or not?

    1. The Koch brothers are too busy funneling dark money to nefarious right wing conspirators — there’s nothing left in the budget for Reason copy editors!

      1. Wealthy people give to whoever they feel will help their business or promote their own self interests. Charles Koch when interviewed stated he is a “classic liberal”. I guess the media never lies..lol

    2. Fix the link in your name. 😛

    3. For the 1,000th time – it’s a blog post, not a magazine article.

  6. God…that Atlantic piece was chock full of EbolaCancer and GonaHerpeSylphilAids…..

  7. The Atlantic’s David Graham is a retarded douchbag.

  8. This is what is known in the trade as a “dog bites man” story. They teach these things at Columbia, unlike that matchcover correspondence J-school Robbie ordered his diploma from.

  9. “Let me get this straight: when corporations put profits first, they are accused of undermining social institutions with their greed?when they unquestionable put people first? they are also accused of undermining social institutions!”

    Yep.
    Greedy corporations (say maybe daddy Koch) did business with that villain of a dictator Stalin and is therefore a bad person, except that Stalin isn’t a villain to most lefties. And after he found out how slimy Stalin was, he quit doing business with him, denounced him and is therefore guilty of, uh, anti-communism, making him a bad person. Is that clear?
    Oh, and if greedy corporations *don’t* do business with those Cuban dictators, they’re starving the Cubans!
    So, to recap: Greedy Koparashuns only care about profit, and they are therefore evil. Except when they don’t care about profit and spend some of it to help people, which makes them evil.
    See?

  10. the four companies have effectively supplanted the local water authorities and made themselves an indispensable public utility, but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability.

    Nothing says “local accountability” like incompetent government water agencies.

    1. Ah you beat me to it Atan.

    2. The answer to incompetent, unaccountable government is obviously MOAR incompetent and unaccountable government.

      /prog

      1. At least $80-million MOAR in this case.

        And to top it off, the never-met-a-program-he-didn’t-like local congressional rep for Flint — who owes his position to nepotism (as his uncle was the previous rep for 36 years) — is now being urged to run for governor. See, what Michigan needs is bigger government. That way, people like me will stop fleeing to states with better everything and smaller governments, or something.

  11. the four companies have effectively supplanted the local water authorities and made themselves an indispensable public utility, but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability.

    Yes, because the public regulation and local accountability have clearly served the citizens Flint so admirably.

    How can this clown write this without even the slightest sense of irony?

    1. Cognitive dissonance is a tenant of the progressive faith.

  12. David Graham works for free and donates to no charities, for fear of tainting motives and causing dependencies?

  13. “Many people in Flint may want government to work better”

    1. “Many” ? “May” ??

    2. People in Flint only want better government. But never less government, and never, ever, ever anyone without a D before their name.

  14. Where have I heard this story before? Facebook offers free limited internet to people in India who are too poor to pay for it and Indian intellectuals bash it. Why? Because Facebook only serve very basic sites (to save bandwidth but people see this as unfair), plus Facebook must be making money off it despite the fact that there’s no ads and the people who use it can barely afford a phone. It’s the equivalent of McDonald’s offering surplus meals to starving people and Matt Yglesias complaining that the food’s not organic and doesn’t offer same variety he gets at Whole Foods. I’d like to hear someone who lives in Flint say, “I like this safe water but it worries me that Wal-Mart might continue to give it away in the future — after all, they’re a corporation so they might have their own ideology.”

  15. In “when they unquestionable put people first” it should be “unquestionably”.

  16. “but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability.”

    Unlike the Flint public utilities, right?

  17. Because people have no control over what corporations do, none at all. It’s not like if they didn’t like the service, they could choose not to buy it and someone else would likely see this demand and fill to also further their own self interest. It’s not like this competition would ever lead to improving quality or decreasing costs, or that we have ANY evidence whatsoever that a lack of competition like a government monopoly could ever lead to complacency that had disastrous consequences, that’s NEVER happened. It’s not like I personally have more control over what I feed my family or watch on TV (things provided by the private sector, at least mostly) than I do public sector goods like what my kids are taught at public school or where I get my electricity.

    Seriously, where do you right wing Nutjobs get these ideas? You are just parroting lines fed to you by the KKKoch brothers who really don’t have your interests in mind because it would boost their bottom line to poison all their customers even worse than the government just did.

    1. /sarc if not obvious

    2. I just assume that eevrything on here is sarc – unless it’s Tony

  18. By making four for-profit corporations into a de facto public utility

    American, Eastern, United, and TWA?

    1. Time-Warner, Comcast, Cox, and Charter?

      1. Whoever makes Jack Daniels?

        1. Good point ? the ATF regulations to start a distillery basically mean you have to operate a working distillery to get a distiller’s license.

  19. That was an incredibly stupid piece….thanks to all who have ably mocked the shit for brains author, nicely done, commentariat.

  20. “And by providing water to the public schools for the remainder of the year, the four companies have effectively supplanted the local water authorities and made themselves an indispensable public utility, but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability.”

    What this moron just said makes no fucking sense whatsoever.

    It makes sense to someone somewhere, but only in magic retard-land where economics is all made of *feels*.

    If the citizens of flint could get water from Coca Cola and Wal Mart cheaper and safer than from the Good Government of Flint…. what’s this about ‘regulation and accountability’?

    did they miss the part about how the Govt water was giving their children brain damage? and THEY CANT SUE THE CITY because of sovereign immunity??

    Why, if the Coca Cola company poisoned your kids… i’m pretty sure the court system would bring some accountability posthaste. if they didn’t already, you know, have a @()#*@#$ INTEREST in NOT POISONING PEOPLE.

    unlike, say… the City of Flint, or the EPA, or the DWSwhatever… which have seen – at best- someone… resign?

    1. Yes, yes, and more yes.

    2. did they miss the part about how the Govt water was giving their children brain damage? and THEY CANT SUE THE CITY because of sovereign immunity??

      Given the causes for which the founding fathers went to war back in the 18th century, they wouldn’t be suing or worrying about “sovereign immunity,” they’d be shooting.

      Note to United States Attorney Preet Bharara or whatever government lackey is assigned to watch me this week: I am not advocating violence or armed insurrection against the city of Flint, I am just noting historical parallels.

      1. Again we’re back to the first amendment. Petitioning the government for redress of grievances is circumvented by the ban on suing the state.

        1. You’ll petition the government the way the government says you can petition it, citizen! And when the government investigates itself and clears itself of wrong-doing, you’ll accept the result! Or else.

    3. Consider that the USSR was run by these kinds of people for 70 years. No Walmarts or Coca Colas to clean up their messes.

      1. Lead poisoning is capitalism problem.

        No one in glorious Soviet Union got lead poisoning.

        Be back later ? must buy several jars of mustard ? I have company coming.

    4. you know, have a @()#*@#$ INTEREST in NOT POISONING PEOPLE.

      No, it’s the politics that are important. Nevermind the people who find themselves caught up in all of it.

  21. Many people in Flint may want government to work better, but with sufficient donations, they may find that the private sector has supplanted many of government’s functions altogether.

    This is the line that really gives the game away. It’s not about whether the job is done well, the crime is private sector supplanting government functions. Government should never get smaller!

  22. Lol, just… Lol.

  23. According to The Atlantic’s David Graham

    I need to start keeping a written list of pundits who have penned articles that out them as simply too stupid to be worth taking seriously. I mean, I’ve got an informal list (Steve Chapman, Maureen Dowd, Charles Blow, Kathleen Parker, David Brooks, Ta-nehisi Coates,…), but it’s getting so long, it’s easy to lose track of fringe members like Mr. Graham, here.

    1. No shit.

      “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits.” – A. Einstein

      This is true quantitatively as well as qualitatively.

      1. +1 unachievable Peak Derp.

  24. but with sufficient donations, they may find that the private sector has supplanted many of government’s functions altogether.

    “No, not that! Anything but that!!” (Clutches pearls and runs screaming from the room.)

    1. And with charity, on top of everything else.

      Or, in other words, something impossible happened.

  25. Many people in Flint may want government to work better, but with sufficient donations, they may find that the private sector has supplanted many of government’s functions altogether.

    Until Walmart has guys going around taking “donations” at gunpoint, government doesn’t have to worry about all their functions being supplanted. And if Walmart really wanted to be like government, they would be offering free water and charging the neighbor a dollar for it.

    1. Free *poisoned* water. You left that out.

  26. They’re for-profit corporations.

    Hear that, Flint residents? Now your water is poisoned with money!

  27. “Is government-managed delivery of public goods really an absolute moral necessity…?”

    Government is the word we use to describe the things we do together.

    1. Government is the word we use to describe the things we do poorly together.

    2. Well, government is the one thing we all belong to, right?

    3. Government is the gun that we point at each other.

  28. (((Dana Milbank))) and (((Katrina vanden Heuvel)))

  29. They have a point. Corporations playing gov, it’s blasphemous.

  30. I frequently find myself unwilling to share Reason articles when they have so many typos…

    1. Yeah, what has been going on recently?

      It’s like they’re dictating into speech recognition into their phones, without the most basic proof read or even automated spelling/grammar/homonym/nonsense check.

      1. Should have been homonym homophone check.

  31. So let’s see… Corporations are evil because they are large, bureaucratic entities that are only motivated by a lust for money and can only be held to account for their wrongs by litigation.

    But Government is good because it is larger, more bureaucratic, motivated by a lust for power and immune to litigation?

  32. Find the offices of these lieberal writers and park woodchippers there.

  33. I need to see Morgan Spurlock live on nothing but lead poisoned water for a month before I can decide.

  34. But a one-time infusion of gallons of fresh water doesn’t do much to address the systemic failures of government that led to the water crisis in the first place.

    The knucklehead could have a point, namely that private entities mitigating the crisis would reduce the drive to fix the government, except for one thing: there is no hope that the government can be fixed. It is, to use his own word, a systemic failure. I cannot imagine him or any of his fellow “Goobermint Is The Ultimate Good” types supporting any real change to the system. Even bringing in the woodchippers wouldn’t help; if the same mindset that set up the current system is the one that sets up the new system, then we haven’t gotten anywhere.

  35. but with sufficient donations, they may find that the private sector has supplanted many of government’s functions altogether.

    He needed worry: the private sector is sooner rather than later rudely reminded by markets, customers, and investors that they need to make a profit; that’s a strict limit on their philanthropy. Government has no such limits.

  36. It’s completely obvious that their perspective of Flint is purely of pro-government damage control.

    They’ll never thoroughly, openly cover it. They don’t want to.

  37. So they’ve “made themselves an indispensable public utility, but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability” … but we see how well that worked with the local water authorities, haven’t we…

  38. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the government does not like competition. it explains everything all laws are designed to force out the competition or regulated to the point that it becomes essentially a defacto government entity.

  39. David Graham should have submitted this article to the Onion website, instead. That’s where it belongs. But The Atlantic printed it anyway, so we know how insanely biased they are.

    1. …”how insanely statist leftoid they are.” FTFY

  40. Please stop calling the progressive propagandists “liberal writers.” They are neither.

  41. Socialists have always been against private charity because it displaces state efforts.

    The thing to understand about the left is that government power is the ends, not the means.

    “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
    ? George Orwell, 1984

  42. For the left, it’s always been about control, control, control. Never competence, never liberty, never cost-cutting (even though they may claim their solutions will provide these things), just control.

  43. Great job, Robby Soave.

  44. I wish every liberal would cease to exist. Just poof. Gone.

    1. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..

      Clik This Link inYour Browser….

      ??????? http://www.netjoin10.com

  45. just before I saw the receipt that said $7527 , I accept that my mom in-law woz like actualey making money in there spare time from there pretty old laptop. . there aunt had bean doing this for less than twentey months and at present cleared the depts on there appartment and bourt a great new Citro?n 2CV . look here…….
    Clik This Link inYour Browser.
    ???????? http://www.Jobstribune.com

  46. year. In this year till now I have earned 66k dollars with my pc, despite the fact that I am a college student. Even

    newbies can make 39 an hour easily and the average goes up with time. Why not try this.

    Clik This Link inYour Browser…….

    ? ? ? ? http://www.workpost30.com

  47. year. In this year till now I have earned 66k dollars with my pc, despite the fact that I am a college student. Even

    newbies can make 39 an hour easily and the average goes up with time. Why not try this.

    Clik This Link inYour Browser…….

    ? ? ? ? http://www.workpost30.com

  48. just before I saw the receipt that said $7527 , I accept that my mom in-law woz like actualey making money in there spare time from there pretty old laptop. . there aunt had bean doing this for less than twentey months and at present cleared the depts on there appartment and bourt a great new Citro?n 2CV . look here…….
    Clik This Link inYour Browser.
    ???????? http://www.Jobstribune.com

  49. They should ask Trump to do a fundraiser. Probably have it covered in about 3 days.

  50. just before I saw the receipt that said $7527 , I accept that my mom in-law woz like actualey making money in there spare time from there pretty old laptop. . there aunt had bean doing this for less than twentey months and at present cleared the depts on there appartment and bourt a great new Citro?n 2CV . look here…….
    Clik This Link inYour Browser.
    ???????? http://www.Jobstribune.com

  51. just before I saw the receipt that said $7527 , I accept that my mom in-law woz like actualey making money in there spare time from there pretty old laptop. . there aunt had bean doing this for less than twentey months and at present cleared the depts on there appartment and bourt a great new Citro?n 2CV . look here…….
    Clik This Link inYour Browser.
    ???????? http://www.Jobstribune.com

  52. ??My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..
    Clik This Link inYour Browser??….
    ? http://www.Jobstribune.com ?

  53. Will they get good news value for the donations? Of course.
    They get plenty of bad press, much of it deserved.
    But griping when they do something good is not helping.

    The question that needs to be answered is:
    who are All the government officials involved in this crime, and are they incompetent or criminally negligent?
    If they knew and went along they should be prosecuted.
    If they were coerced into not talking their bosses should be prosecuted.
    You don’t get to walk away by resigning.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.