Tonight my SO and I watched to CNN to catch up on the situation in Japan. Their "reporters" conveyed what they know in five minute, then spent thirty more speculating on what they did not know as they waited for the next tidbit of information to be forwarded to them.
They did question the lack of a decisive response from Japanese government and international nuclear agencies. They did hope for someone rushing in to save the day and keep people safe. But they do not answer the question, "Why is this happening?" I answer that question with "Cheapness." This is what happens when cheapness is sold as a strategic solution to real issues.
As with all technology, electric power plants are engineered products subject to the laws of physics, the knowledge of science, the design and testing of engineers, the limits of human construction and the long term maintenance of those facilities by virtual entities, in this case a corporation. Technology is based on knowledge and craftsmanship. Running a profitable business like a power plant use to be based on managing costs balanced against profits. But as with many of these disasters, I suspect greed has replaced balance with continuously growing the profit.
As I was considering this, the reality of commercial television newz intervened, so we sat through several of these sponsors information nuggets. Among these promotions for credit, insurance, pharmaceutical products, was one ad that caught my attention. It was the attack ad against public unions. You know the one, the "CrossRoads" ad. "Unions are an evil that are bankrupting our nation, they are supported by our misguided President and liberals everywhere." It encouraged us all to do what we can to support our "other" public officials who are doing everything in their power to stripping the last public unions of all means of support.
What a dichotomy, on the one hand I was watching a business founded on an engineered solution, as it failed. That failure in all likelihood, caused by cheap design, poor maintenance or both. On the other some rich guy's are using the airtime they purchased during a major disaster to convince me I should give them a freer hand. No I am not kidding. Comedy writers couldn't do a better job of portraying the ridiculousness of the situation. Indignant newz reporters insisting that government should protect the people, while fat cats attempt to persuade the same audience to remove more government protections from people.
This got me to thinking on the subject of what is a natural disaster, and how does it differ from a man made disaster. My conclusion is a natural disaster are event that adheres to the laws of physics effecting our living environment that have dire consequences for people. On the other hand, a man made disaster is one that delivers dire consequences upon people but are rooted in our ability to ignore the consequences of our actions. For the wise, disasters remind us that, "The laws of physic do not care about or take into consideration the laws of man." That we are responsible for managing our living situation in our environment. For the gullible, disasters confirms that bad things happen but comfort can be found in being part of the "privileged" class.
Resent examples of man made disasters with natural triggers are Chernobyl, Katrina, the Banks failure, the BP oil spill, and now Japan, but there are plenty more. None of these situations could have happened without practical setup and priming priming prior to natural environmental events. There is very little of our modern world, the world of the past three centuries, that is naturally occurring. We live as we do through hard earned knowledge stacked on top of more knowledge. Relenting control over such a system is like turning loose the steering wheel of truck and "letting nature take it's course." But this is exactly what cheapness endorses as a winning strategy.
The process of exploitation through greed promoted as cheapness has a consistent history. Starting with the production of valuable goods with an eye on sustaining the market and resource. Over time that business get corrupted through age and/or changing ownership. The business becomes progressively under managing and under staffing even as wealth is extracted. The system continues to limp along until the forces of the physical world take their toll, most often in the for of a natural disaster. But every now an then the hand of man can be seen at work as in the banks failures. Considered in that light, the native people's land annexation, african enslavement, asian and european indentureship followed similar paths to disaster. But even now, the working middle class of most modern nations are on this path to disaster and it is anything but natural. Cheapness is at work like a tsunami looking for new victims.
Less regulation, less maintenance, inferior production, the hoarding of profits, the gutting of public services through tax cuts. All of these strategies have all contributed to some of our most memorable disasters of the the past decade in the western world.
In the USA, we know our state and federal budgets have been running on debt for decades. Just as the smart guy, Bill Gates. Gates recently gave a speech on that very subject. But you don't see him helping his dad's campaign for fiscal responsibility in Washington state. If Washington state instituted an income tax he might have to leave the very state that made it possible for him to amass his billions.
I find it telling that the same politicians who engineered these revenue shortages are now claiming that the root cause is people earning an honest living and spending their money in markets that support their neighbors. That being paid well for producing valuable products and services is the definition of greed. That all working class people should be paid at a deflated wage so that they subsidize corporate adventures in developing foreign economies. But the fact is, this has been the message since 1969. That people have no place in deciding what is in their best interest. That corporations dedicated to extracting wealth from markets are best suited for setting policy at all levels of government. And with that in mind they set to work stripping as much oversight and regulation from industry, finance, banking, propaganda, and election manipulation as possible. All with the endorsement and the unfailing belief of people who live from their faith in their ignorance.
It use to be the bumper-stickers that extolled, "Live simply, so that others may live," use to identify those aligned with Mahatma Ghandi's sense of economic justice. Now it is more attached to working class people who choose to align themselves with the lies of those stripping them and their neighbors of livelihood and the political means to improve their situation.
For forty years an exclusive group of "men" have consistently giving corporations the power to effect government, while taking action to stripping governments of the resources to act in the interest of it's people. Japan's trouble are just the latest example of how we have arrived at a time when human suffering is another advertising opportunity. This may be a disaster, but not a natural one in any sense of the word.