This post is for all you idiot Reagan-worshipping fools who still believe that “government is the problem”: because of all the deregulation St. Ronnie championed, there is no way to tell if water from the Elk River is fit for human use. So the locals trusted the unregulated chemical industry, declared the water to be safe, and a load of kids and teachers got very ill indeed.

The licorice smell typical of MCHM contamination resurfaced in schools early in the week. Several students reported burning in their noses and eyes as well as skin irritation. Multiple people were hospitalized, including a teacher who fainted and a cook at one of the schools, according to Ashton Marra at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The reported symptoms are consistent with exposure to “crude MCHM.”

Note: saying “Duuuh, I dunno, sure, I guess it’s probably kinda sorta safe-ish” is NOT good public policy. When our elected officials have become so lax in their civic responsibilities that we can’t tell if our drinking water will hospitalize us or not, it is time to make a few changes. And the first step towards change is admitting that we have a problem.

A little further south, a load of toxic coal ash is fouling the river that another city uses for its water supply. The locals there have also said the water is OK. They are absolutely maybe guesstimating the water to be pretty much safe-ish to drink. Until it isn’t.

It’s time we knocked Ronald McReagan off his pedestal and realized this harsh truth: government is not always bad. In fact, it can do a lot of good. A well-managed regulatory system can protect us from harm.

Think about that, America, as you play Russian Roulette with each and every drink of water. Richard Nixon gave us the gift of safe water. And since 1979, his fellow “Republicans” have been busily taking that safety away from us.

Think about it, America, as you drink with one hand, and prepare to call for an ambulance with the other.

Mr. Blunt and Cranky