Oh my fatalisticly fantastic followers, we are taking a chapter out of my childhood in Pennsylvania today. The year is 1979, just two years after the glorious life shattering experience that was Star Wars. You might know that I am a fan.
Well, in this year a little event happened just outside of Harrisburg Pennsylvania at a power plant on Three Mile Island. I would not be surprised if a large number of you do not get the reference. Not only does mankind collectively have a short attention span and memory, but also an infinite capacity to blind themselves. We love to convince ourselves that we have learned our lesson and will do better.
Last night I watched Meltdown: Three Mile Island on Netflix and was shocked by how callously people with power and money involved will assume risks for the general population they have no right to speak for. Besides the corruption at the NRC and the utility company, the democratic party was focused mainly on hiding the truth. They were more concerned about the image of the nuclear power industry than protecting the people it served. I think the Catholic Church has had a similar misguided sense of priorities.
Sadly, this was during the presidency of one of the few presidents I still had some respect for, Jimmy Cater. The truth is that time after time regardless of party, the powerful lubricant of wealth takes precedence over humankind. In this case in my own back yard. What really caught my attention was the actual severity of the disaster. After Chernobyl and Fukushima, I was under the false impression that, while we had had our accident, we had handle things better.
From watching this show, I can see that it was only luck that kept us from being the first Chernobyl. Three Mile Island’s core had started to melt down and only the realization there was a stuck valve that needed closed saved us from that fate. It they had not figured it out, even where I live might have been a wasteland.
Worse, just like Chernobyl, the people making the money from nuclear power showed that they really had no plan to deal with the problem and its aftermath. What gets lost in the narrative is that they intentionally vented the radioactive hydrogen to avoid the Chernobyl scenario because they had no other solution. Radiation venting that was not properly monitored for reasons similar to Chernobyl, lack of proper testing equipment. Who bore the long term cost of the that, the residents. My guess is they still do not. For one thing, it is easier to hide your head in the sand then do the right thing. For another, doing it right means it costs more and you might not be able to pass all the costs on to the customer. When it threatens to cut into profits, the morality of the activity breaks down.
So once again I have had to bring Atomic Joe out to remind us how stupid we really are. We, as a race, seem to have a terrible ability to separate wealth from wisdom, knowledge, and morality. We seem to perpetually equate wealth with the cream of our society no matter how many times it has been proven to be utterly false, no matter how many times we tell ourselves they are human too. It is simply mind boggling.
Here is a corollary idea that I have come to understand. The reason we are now as a nation having to pay higher prices for everything is not because of gas prices or war per say but because of all the mistakes the wealthy have made and not paid for. What I mean is this, the clean up of Three Mile Island was I believe stated as one billion dollars in 1983. Who do you think actually paid for that? The CEOs of the company owning the plant? No, if I am correct, they paid nothing. All the costs associated with this disaster were borne by the customers and the tax payers, of which, the middle class carries the highest burden. Especially now with the Republican tax breaks to the wealthy. Worse, this is true for every man made corporate disaster, national corporation bailout, and economic bubble brought on by Wallstreet. They make the blunder and the middle class pays for it. The FDIC backing of your accounts at your local bank isn’t the government, it is you. That is why we had to bail out the banks in 2008. Simple truth, the Federal Reserve is nothing more than the blood, sweat, and tears of the American Worker. It banks on our ability to cover their mistakes. The question is, have we learned anything? Answer, No.