One of these days we’re gonna finally understand that corporations exist to make money by “any means necessary.” For many Americans this comes as a surprise. Some of us want to believe that corporations exist to live in harmony with their environment. We want to believe the hype. We want to believe that British Petroleum cares about the environment. We want to believe that cute dancing elephants are truly happy that GE is using their imagination to create jet engines that are eco-friendly. We desperately want to believe. We want to believe that corporations are good and not evil. This isn’t about good and evil. This is not about right and wrong. This is about making money and capitalism and Americans living with big business.
If we want capitalism to work we have to provide it the appropriate framework. We found out in the 1880s and 1890s that unbridled capitalism corrupts our government and subjects our population to ridiculously low wages and no hope of opportunity. It is well documented how corporations simply bought politicians. Now, the buying of politicians is more subtle. It’s called campaign contributions. It’s called cushy executive posts when you retire from Congress. Smart, enforceable regulations are required to keep business working for us. We cannot have disasters in the Gulf. We cannot have nuclear reactors melting down, for any reason. We cannot have our environment destroyed because business tried to cut corners.
From Robert Reich:
The New York Times reports that G.E. marketed the Mark 1 boiling water reactors, used in TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, as cheaper to build than other reactors because they used a comparatively smaller and less expensive containment structure.
Yet American safety officials have long thought the smaller design more vulnerable to explosion and rupture in emergencies than competing designs. (By the way, the same design is used in 23 American nuclear reactors at 16 plants.)
In the mid-1980s, Harold Denton, then an official with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Mark 1 reactors had a 90 percent probability of bursting should the fuel rods overheat and melt in an accident. A follow-up report from a study group convened by the Commission concluded that “Mark 1 failure within the first few hours following core melt would appear rather likely.”
Sound familiar? (more…)