I find it funny that Texas government officials are falling all over themselves to let the residents of West, Texas know that they are large and in charge. I know that many in Texas and around the country believe with all of their hearts that the government is useless. The scariest thing is that old Ronald Reagan line, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
Well, now, the good folks of West need help. They need someone to check the air quality and make sure that it is safe. Who’s going to do that? They need low-interest long- and short-term loans so that they can rebuild. Who’s going to do that? The town will need grants to rebuild infrastructure. This is where the government needs to step up and do their jobs.
Now, I don’t know what caused the explosion in West, Texas. I do know that for the most part plants do not spontaneously combust. Ammonium nitrate is the compound that was made at the West plant. This product is made by a simple chemical reaction. The chemical reaction gives off an enormous amount of heat.
Texas should be very aware of the dangers of ammonium nitrate. A vessel carrying tons of the material exploded in the Texas City harbor in 1947. 581 people died. This disaster resulted in one of the first class action lawsuits.
Sometimes it’s hard to recognize some of the things that are happening around us. Sometimes it is easy. Big business has been shipping jobs overseas for the last 30 years. For some reason, there are a number of Americans who believe that giving big business more money will somehow make them keep jobs here in the US. Whirlpool is the latest example of a company that has been slowly but steadily dismantling plants and reassembling them in Mexico.
Wednesday morning news Roundup
- Yesterday, stocks closed down slightly after a big rally early in the morning. Although financial stocks should have increased throughout the day, many stocks that make up the Dow Jones and industrial averages fell. PepsiCo announced that it would cut 3300 jobs and close six plants. Retail sales fell 1.2% in September. This is much more than the smart folks thought.
- We can always sit back and smile because our stock exchange is doing so much better than Iceland’s. The Iceland Stock exchange dropped 77% on Monday. This is after Iceland stopped trading for three days in order to let the markets “stabilize.”
- Through the wonders of financial wizardry, J.P. Morgan Chase revealed that its third-quarter profit fell by 84%. Somehow, they were still able to make a profit of $5.8 billion. I don’t understand it, so I will not attempt to explain it. It seems to me that profit in this market is a good thing.
- Civil libertarians and Democrats have been warning for the past three years that we need to fix our election system. Republicans have been in power and no major reforms have been implemented. Ohio is again a concern. Over 600,000 new voters have registered in Ohio. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the GOP and stated that the Secretary of State (of Ohio) must use other government records to verify these new voters. This seems like an impossible task to complete between now and November 4th. Would this be filed under the heading “voter suppression?”
- In case you missed it, there was a major offensive in Afghanistan by the Taliban. The Taliban attacked a major city in a coordinated effort. NATO troops repelled the attack, killing over 60 Taliban fighters. This continues a disturbing trend on which I commented several weeks ago. Terrorists attack soft targets. They usually don’t have the numbers or the skill to directly attack hard targets. The game is changing in Afghanistan. I don’t think it’s changing for the better. Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agrees.
- Surprisingly (because Karl Rove has taught us different), a new poll suggests that the vicious attacks that John McCain and Sarah Palin have launched against Barack Obama have backfired. In a New York Times/CBS news poll found that voters overwhelmingly thought that Barack Obama was explaining the issues and what he intends to do and that John McCain was simply attacking Barack Obama. Interestingly, with voters who have recently made up their minds, they had overwhelmingly chosen Barack Obama as their pick for president. Sarah Plain explained that she has nothing to lose on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show yesterday with regard to these attacks. It seems that the only thing that she has to lose is the election.
- As our financial crisis deepens, John McCain’s campaign has struggled to come up with a coherent message and plan. Basically, for the last several weeks, John McCain has said that he knows how to fix the economy. He hasn’t given the American people any specifics on how he would do this. Controlling government spending is a niceplan and is indeed necessary, but it will not fix the problem. After multiple false announcements, yesterday John McCain revealed a $52 billion plan which involves tax breaks to encourage savings and provide relief for seniors (I don’t really understand how this will help for our economy). If you look carefully, you’ll see that there’s nothing new in John McCain’s “new” proposal. Republicans have wanted to decreased capital gains taxes for decades. A central piece of this proposal is a cut in capital gains taxes. I will look at this proposal more carefully but at first glance it seems to be more of the same. Rachel Maddow talked about this on her show last night.