Anyone familiar with the history of Alabama’s economy over the last century knows the negatives to living in a colonial economy far outweigh the positives. As part of the New South, Birmingham could offer “cheaper money, cheaper taxation, cheaper labor…and cheaper power,” as an 1897 letter to the editor of the Richmond Dispatch put it. Throw in the abundance of tax loopholes in Alabama’s 1901 Constitution, the lack of a real labor presence in the state, and our bounty of natural resources, and Birmingham becomes an attractive target indeed for Northern investment.
A quick look at US Steel’s history in the city will let you know how that turned out. Though the corruption and tax evasion that follow in the wake of a colonial economy don’t get enough press either, it’s the callous pollution of our community that’s the real lurking threat affecting all of us in the city.
Tonight at 9, CBS 42 is following up on their first installment dealing with issues of soil and air contamination in Birmingham, Deadly Deception 1. Deadly Deception 2: The Fugitive Factor will investigate how local businesses have taken advantage of the same terrible precedents that once favored corporations like US Steel, as well as how officials at every level of the government are abetting that poisonous cycle. The commercial-free documentary will make use of whistle-blowers and other sources to uncover why nothing is being done to stop the rampant pollution in badly affected areas like North Birmingham.
This isn’t merely a case of paving paradise to put up a parking lot, a phenomenon that’s all too common in the greater Birmingham area. This is the consistent and willful poisoning of the environment by people who aren’t held accountable for it, people who hide behind walls that average residents can’t penetrate. The result is schools built on contaminated soil, unusually high levels of cancer, and no impetus to change.
Documentaries like Deady Deception 2 help to provide that impetus. In a city that’s as fond of the status quo as Birmingham, this is one example of politics-as-usual we can’t afford to feel powerless or apathetic about.
Deady Deception 2: The Fugitive Factor airs tonight, commercial-free, from 9-10 p.m. on CBS 42 and will stream online at cbs42.com.