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Auchter's Art: Have we learned nothing?

May 18, 2018

"You're an editorial cartoonist? Wow, you must really love the current political climate! So much to draw about!"

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this in the past two years. Yes, there is plenty of material, but it often comes out like a fire hose — too much, too quickly (and in many cases already beyond satire).

Patton Oswalt has the best take on this. In his comedy special Annihilation, he explains this feeling of helpless exasperation using a brilliant analogy involving defecation and traditional Mexican headwear. I won't tell you any more for two reasons: He uses words I cannot, and he is infinitely funnier.

This was that kind of week for me. Just when I thought I had a story I could grab hold of, another rushed in. Finally I settled on the ongoing catastrophe that is the current head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt. Again, so much to choose from, but what caught my eye was a story first reported by Politico:

Earlier this year the EPA helped to bury a federal study that would have increased warnings about toxic chemicals found in hundreds of water supplies across the country. That report showed Pruitt's senior aides intervened in the release of the Health and Human Services Department assessment into PFOA and PFOS after the White House warned of a "public relations nightmare."

So here we are again, dealing with poisons in our drinking water — this time chemicals that have either been dumped as waste (as is the case in West Michigan near Grand Rapids) or actively spread as an ingredient in products such as fabric protectors and fire-fighting foams. And the officials in charge see this first as a public relations issue, not a public health issue? Have we learned nothing from the Flint water crisis? Apparently not.

John Auchter is a freelance editorial cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.