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The Third World Comes Home

You don’t need to take a trip overseas to visit the third world. You’re getting a taste of it right now.

(BorneoJC James/Shutterstock)

Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, is entering its third day of an acute water crisis. Meanwhile, across the country, Americans' average life expectancy continues to decline.

Just under 200,000 residents of the Jackson area do not have reliable access to clean water to bathe, drink, or cook with. City officials that allowed the city’s water treatment infrastructure to deteriorate for decades are now working around the clock to fix the problem their negligence caused. 


Earlier this summer, pumps were damaged at the water treatment facility that services the Jackson area; however, city officials did not have a strong sense of urgency to fix the pumps, that is until heavy rains last week caused the Pearl River to flood, overwhelming the water-treatment plant and caused water pressure to collapse. On Tuesday, for instance, Jackson’s main water-treatment plant, the O.B. Curtis Water Plant, only pumped 30 million gallons of water, when at its normal capacity should pump 50 million gallons.

This isn’t the first time Jackson’s crumbling water infrastructure, with its aging pipes and plants, have failed to keep the city’s water supply safe in the wake of inclement weather. Last year, Jackson residents went weeks without safe and reliable running water when winter storms strained water-treatment facilities.

Last July, the Environmental Protection Agency also found a number of issues with the city’s water facilities. Beyond aging infrastructure, the EPA found that many of the facilities, including major plants, were understaffed.

Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves asked President Joe Biden for an emergency declaration, a request the president granted Tuesday that freed up more federal resources to support Jackson while it attempts to repair the damaged infrastructure. Reeves estimated repairs could take three to four months to complete. “This is not a situation that is going to be solved immediately,” Reeves told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. Current estimates floated by Mississippi politicians for the total costs of the repairs exceed $1 billion. 

The crisis has predictably wreaked havoc on Jackson residents. Some residents said they have been capturing rainwater in order to flush their toilets or brush their teeth, given the shortage has caused a massive run on bottled water for miles around. When water does come out of the tap, it is discolored with a brown tint, forcing parents to choose between bathing their children in the poorly-treated water, or have them go without basic hygiene.


Other public services and essential infrastructure are also suffering from the downstream effects of the water crisis. Air conditioning units at some of Jackson’s University of Mississippi Medical Center’s facilities are failing or are unable to keep buildings at a steady temperature because the water pressure is too low. Outside, temperatures eclipsed 90 degrees Tuesday, and are expected to stay in the 90s through Friday before a week of thunderstorms rolls into the area. Firefighters are also feeling the water shortage, according to Reeves. Reeves said water tankers are being brought into the city in order to alleviate the stresses on medical centers and help fight fires. "Replacing our largest city's infrastructure of water with human distribution is a massively complicated logistical task," Reeves claimed.

With political leadership and infrastructure like that of Jackson’s across the country, it’s no surprise then, that life expectancy for Americans on the whole has fallen more in the past two years than any other two year span in nearly a century. In 2019, the average life expectancy for Americans was nearly 79 years. In 2021, that number had fallen to 76, federal health researchers announced Wednesday. 

Native Americans were the most affected demographic group over the Covid-19 pandemic. Their average life expectancy fell more than six and a half years, bringing the Native American average life expectancy to 65, which was the average life expectancy for all Americans in 1944.

The Covid-19 pandemic was not the only cause for the decline in the average life expectancy for Americans. Federal health researchers also found that drug overdoses and a rise in accidental deaths also contributed to the precipitous decline.

Aging, failing infrastructure, skyrocketing energy prices, runaway inflation, an open southern border, drugs and crime filling the streets, suicides and other deaths of despair plaguing our youth, and a protracted pandemic fought with ineffective masks and vaccines that are questionably effective at best—this is America now. It’s not the country you and I grew up in anymore. It’s alien, and it's the result of conscious policy decisions at every level of government, from your locality to the federal government, made by our political and scientific elite. Yet, somehow, our elite class keep getting richer and more powerful—propped up by media, corporate, and establishment interests.

You don’t need to take a trip overseas to visit the third world. You’re getting a taste of it right now.


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