You remember the movie “Castaway”?
Starring Tom Hanks and a volleyball named Wilson, the movie is about a FedEx employee who survives a plane crash and spends years struggling to survive by himself on an island.
Throughout his time on the deserted island, Hanks’ character finds all the trappings of modern civilization stripped away, revealing a primate world where only his intelligence and adaptability can keep him alive.
No running water (no source of fresh water).
Only Wilson, his faithful volleyball.
It’s this movie I had in mind when reading stories of the so-called human-rights crisis unfolding in Detroit, a city where residents apparently feel they are entitled to water even if they refuse to pay the bill for this service.
Nearly half of the city’s 300,000 accounts with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) are past due, not to mention the more than $90 million already owed the utility.
City of Detroit Water And Sewerage Department Deputy Director Darryl Latimer says the “crisis” is largely due to a culture of “I am not going to pay.”
He told CBS Detroit: “The majority of our customers (who) are in delinquency status, they just built a culture of , ‘You’re not making me pay – I am not going to pay,’” said Latimer.
Perhaps this is the mindset behind Detroit’s historic bankruptcy?
“You’re not making me pay – I am not going to pay.”
Sounds about right to me.
Civic duty and pride in the community should be a hallmark of every American city, but with the declaration of Detroit’s citizens that “you’re not making me pay” as the rationale behind delinquent water bills, it’s hard to have any sympathy for those protesting for their right to free water.
I’m sure, like me, you get utility bills every month.
A bill for electricity.
A bill for, perhaps, gas.
A bill for cable (cut the cord already!).
Maybe a Netflix bill.
And a bill for Internet.
And, guess, what? A water bill.
If you don’t pay them, what happens?
You get a notice the payment for your service is past due.
If you fail to pay, this service is momentarily discontinued – until you provide the money for past-rendered services.
With the situation unfolding in Detroit, those who call the city home believe their situation somehow exonerates them from collections or the rules governing how a civilization works.
Either you pay your water bill, and enjoy the service such a monetary decision enables, or you don’t.
But Detroit is a special case, with the United Nations inclined to intervene to help solve the water crisis (that wouldn’t exist if residents just paid their bills on time).
The Los Angeles Times reported in May: “the water department sent out 46,000 warnings and cut off service to 4,531. The city says that cutting off water is the only way to get people to pay their bills. …”
No more posturing.
No more warnings.
Just cut off the water until payment is received.
Residing in Detroit shouldn’t absolve you from the responsibilities almost all adult Americans must shoulder each month when they pay their bills on time.
By no means should the United Nations be getting involved, but this is 2014 America we’re talking about. Obviously, only a body as august as the U.N. could depart the necessary knowledge to help Americans understand why they should still pay their water bills when a non-payment for such a “right” as water is now embedded into the culture of Detroit.
Based on a story from one of Detroit’s two newspapers, it’s evident the U.N. sees this crisis as an opportunity to finally intervene in the life of Americans:
“The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights put out a press release from Geneva citing three experts in response to reports that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is cutting off water access to thousands of residents in the city.
“‘Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights,’ said Catarina de Albuquerque, identified as an expert on the human right to water and sanitation.
“‘Disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying. In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections.’”
Yahoo posted an even crazier article with the U.N. defending those in Detroit from paying their water bills by claiming that it “may be discriminatory”:
One of the experts, Leilani Farha, who focuses on the right to adequate housing, also pointed out the racial implications of shutting off water to the nearly 83 percent black population. “If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African Americans, they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the U.S. has ratified,” said Farha.
Once a situation, person, or circumstance has been declared racist (or the reason behind the situation or circumstance can be blamed on racism), the battle is already won.
There is no moral way in our society to argue against being labeled a racist.
So if those not paying their bills (remember the motto: “You’re not making me pay – I am not going to pay”) claim it’s racist or discriminatory to expect them to pay, they inevitably won’t have to pay.
Think about the movie “Castaway” one more time.
Drinkable water didn’t exist on the island Hanks’ character was marooned on. It was up to him to find ways to sustain himself or else he would perish.
Across America, there are a lot of people, particularly United States military veterans, who go to bed at night worrying about which bill they’ll pay and which they won’t, just so there children can have food on their plates.
This is called responsibility.
In Detroit, worrying about paying your bill only requires petitioning the U.N. to call it discriminatory and the water keeps flowing.
That’s not responsibility; we call that: “You’re not making me pay – I am not going to pay.”
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