Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dear Republicans: Here's Why You Should Help Flint, MI

I've talked before about Flint, Michigan's water crisis, and I've talked about the fact that it won't take the original estimate of $1.5 billion to fix it, either. In fact, replacing the pipes and putting in atmospheric water generators that would allow clean water to flow into every home in Flint will cost just $80 million. But while the Democratic party is visiting it and talking about it, Republicans are shuffling their feet nervously and doing NOTHING.

I wrote an article on my business website, 40 Day Writer, in which I urged American business owners to come together to find solutions to the problem that benefit everyone - your business and the people who live there. I've promised to write the stories of those businesses that do and build a book from it and donate the proceeds to the ongoing health needs of those affected by the crisis, but I haven't had anyone contact me to sign up for that. 

Maybe you don't see the opportunity in it for you. Maybe you think it's a problem for that community, not you. Maybe you don't know how to help and so you just aren't. Maybe you're worried it will cost you too much to do it. I don't know why you're not moving, but I know you aren't. So, I'm going to give you 6 Reasons you should be helping Flint, Michigan right now.

Reason 1: Their problem is your gold mine.

There are 26 nanotechnology firms in Michigan right now and countless more throughout the country. Flint, Michigan's problems stem from industrial effluent - heavy metals that have been dumped into rivers and now contaminates the soils and the water that they need. That's bad news for them - but it's incredible news for nanotech firms.

How, you might ask? Allow me to explain.

As I was pondering what more I could do to help the people of Flint, Michigan, I began researching solutions not just to the problem of clean water and pipes, but to their bigger problem of heavy metals in their water and soil. That led me to a research project by the University of Delhi which was developing a heavy metals filter using garlic and onion.

The thing that caught my eye was that they were able to extract those heavy metals using nitric acid and low-level heat of 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I saw another statement about a Bulgarian team experimenting with on site plantings of garlic and grasses to absorb the contaminates in the soil. So here we have a few simple things that are naturally grown that could be used to solve a seemingly complex problem.

I was curious about the Bulgarian research team's efforts and did a Google search. I didn't find it. What I did find was a research paper entitled Raw Materials Synthesis from Heavy Metal Industry Effluents with Bioremediation and Phytomining: A Biomimetic Resource Management Approach that was released just last year in which they said there was a potential to use heavy metals extracted with the help of organisms like algae and fungus and plants as a resource for metallic nanoparticles.

It listed two main advantages: it costs far less to extract these heavy metals this way than traditional methods, and the nanoparticles exhibit reproducible sizes and shapes that are not easy to get in the manmade methods. 

Nanotech firms - here is your opportunity. You offer to go clean up Flint, Michigan's water supply and their soils, and you can have all the heavy metals you could ever want at next to nothing. Heck, they'll practically give them away. You provide them the water and the pipes, they'll provide you the heavy metals. It's a win-win for everyone. Are you listening, Dow Corning?

Reason 2: You will win over voters

There are a lot of good reasons to vote Republican, but Democrats are right about your social justice record. You suck at taking care of your fellow human beings. You want to prove that capitalism is the best economic system out there? Prove it by putting it into action in favor of Flint, Michigan.

Put your entrepreneurial brains together and show people that helping others doesn't have to be all give and no take. It can be a partnership - and it should be. Good business people know that business ought to be a win-win for both sides or it's not good business. 

Helping the people of Flint, Michigan isn't about giving them hand outs. It's about giving them a hand up out of a situation American capitalists did a lot to create. It's about taking personal responsibility for the decisions that were made instead of dodging the consequences and trying to hide the truth. It's about being the kind of leader that other people will want to follow.

Reason 3: The world is watching.

Just because our news media may not be shining the spotlight as heavily on Flint's water crisis doesn't mean other people don't know. The world is watching you, and they are taking note of how you handle things. 

It will affect the way our allies see us. If we can do this to our own, what are we capable of doing to them? 

It will affect the way our enemies see us. Don't think our enemies won't use this crisis to drum up propaganda against us - because if they're smart, they will. And they'll be justified in doing so.

Handle it. Now. Stop pretending it doesn't matter, because it does.

Reason 4: You want to be leaders? Lead!

Here's a very ugly reality: You stepped into politics because you had a vision for this country. You want a better America, and we all do, but getting a better America isn't going to happen by sacrificing our own - or allowing others to sacrifice them - on the altar of progress. It is only going to happen when we care enough about each other that we make their problem our problem.

Real leaders serve the people. Real leaders are willing to step up and to take the bullet for their people. Politics is about leadership, although I think too many people have forgotten that. You want to be a leader, so step up and LEAD. Show people by example how it ought to be done.

America is hungry for someone, anyone, with the balls to step up and take actual leadership. You don't have to be perfect, you don't have to know everything, you don't have to be rich to lead. You just have to be willing to enter into their experience with them and help them find a way out.

Reason 5: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

You cannot claim to be a Christian and look the other way while these people suffer. You cannot do everything, but you can do something. You're not rich? That's okay, I'm not either. But I can offer them my gifts and talents. I can take my gift of story telling and I can offer them a voice. I can help to keep shining the spotlight on the problem and I can keep talking until someone listens.

You have gifts and talents. You can use those to do something about the problem. If you're an entrepreneur, study the problem and help them find solutions. If you're a trust fund baby with no talents but plenty of money, donate what you can and encourage your friends to do likewise. If you're poor, find a way to help spread the message. Don't let these people die because you stood there and did nothing.

Reason 6: It's the right thing to do.

You're atheist or agnostic and you don't believe in God? Fantastic. Help the people of Flint, Michigan because it's the right thing to do. Prove that you don't have to believe in God to be good and get out there and put us to shame by doing something to help them. Show us how it's done. 

The Bottom Line: Flint, Michigan Needs YOU!

This is our chance, Republicans. This is our opportunity to stop what is tantamount to genocide from taking place. We have the power to prevent it. We can turn things around.

Contrary to Michael Moore's claim that there's no help for Flint, Michigan to remove the heavy metals from the bodies of those affected, it's just not true. Milk thistle, garlic, red clover, calcium, St. Mary's thistle, onions, and Dandelions have all been shown to be not only effective at helping people overcome lead poisoning, they are healthy and cheap to produce, too. 

As to the damage done by lead poisoning, it's amazing what healthy diets can accomplish toward healing. Maybe we can't undo all of the damage, but the body has amazing regenerative powers if it's fed the right things. Let's do something positive and take steps toward making the kind of America that we all want to see become a reality.

This is your chance. What are you going to do?

As for me, I'll be contacting Catholic Charities to see what I can do to help collect the names and the stories of the people who live there. I don't want their faces or their pain to be forgotten. I want to shine so big a spotlight on this problem that people can't possibly ignore it.

Make a commitment to help the people of Flint, Michigan in the comments section below. We can brainstorm together what we are personally going to do. Catholics, if you haven't chosen a Lenten sacrifice, this can be it. Let's get busy and get out there, because those people need our help today.

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