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Against Austerity in Detroit: "Water Is a Human Right"

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Cross-posted at The Nation

From Water is a Human Right
Water is a Human Right
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Water is a human right.

The United Nations formally "recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights."

A new European Citizens Initiative declares, "Water is a public good, not a commodity."

Former President Jimmy Carter writes, "Clean water is a basic human right. Without it, the other rights may not even matter. Human societies cannot be healthy, prosperous and just without adequate supplies of clean water. What could be a more basic right than clean water?"

So why are children in Detroit marching through that battered city's downtown with signs reminding officials that "Kids Need Water to be Healthy" and "Kids Without Water Can't Brush Their Teeth"?

Why are religious leaders being arrested when they seek to prevent the shutoff of water services to families who cannot afford to pay bloated bills?

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The answer is that, thanks to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit is again providing a stark example of what happens when right-wing officials implement an unthinking and inhumane austerity agenda. Since Snyder imposed "emergency manager" control on Detroit last year -- effectively disempowering local elected officials and putting the governor and his appointees in charge -- the city's residents have faced plenty of threats from unelected "managers" who are determined to balance the books of a financially strapped city on the backs of its hardest-hit residents.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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