I knew the Jackson, Mississippi, water crisis has much of its roots in the fact that the state has been gerrymandered so much for so long that Republicans have an iron-fisted hold on all three branches of government, including the House and Senate — plus its congressional delegation.
Mississippi is still Klan country in many ways, and no doubt those kinds of sympathies are never very far from the surface in the good ole boys who run the place. That 38% of the state is Black no doubt accounts for the fact that Mississippi ranks dead last among the 50 states in most quality-of-life indicators. Wouldn’t want non-whites to get too uppity and full of themselves with actual electoral power and generational wealth.
What I did not know is that the water crisis also has much of it roots in a Wall Street company fleecing the city of Jackson and its water customers. It all started with white flight from Jackson, which decimated the city’s tax base in a state where the white folks in control were not in the mood to help a largely Black city, according to Judd Legum over that Popular.Info:
But while the city’s population and tax base shrunk, it still has 114 square miles of aging water infrastructure to maintain. The state, dominated by Republicans, has been largely unwilling to help a city populated by Black Democrats. In 2021, for example, intense storms left Jackson residents without drinking water for a month. The city asked the state for $47 million in funding for emergency repairs. Mississippi allocated $3 million.
Mississippi lawmakers have blocked “attempts by the city to raise infrastructure funds through a sales tax hike.” Meanwhile, top state officials, including Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R), have said that Jackson needs to solve its own problems. After the city lost access to clean water in 2021, Reeves said that the city needs to do a better job “collecting their water bill payments before they start going and asking everyone else to pony up more money.”
Reeves is right that Jackson has had difficulties collecting fees for water. But those difficulties — and its struggles to generate enough revenue to cover even routine maintenance — can be traced back to the actions of a multi-billion dollar corporation: Siemens.
But there is no such thing as systemic racism, dontcha know?
It cannot be said enough times: If someone in your town or city EVER proposes privatizing its water, sewers, parking meters or anything else, help to fight it in any way you can.