Class Warfare Blog

April 29, 2013

Misplaced Trust

Filed under: Economics,Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 2:41 pm
Tags: , , , ,

We all throw our trust around in often unwarranted fashions. Many people trust their employers way more that they have any evidence to support. We also trust our local politicians, even if we have had nothing to do with them. Basically, I see this as we all want to live in a world in which people and institutions are trustworthy, so we extend trust even though we have no real basis for doing so, a form of wish fulfillment.

This trust only extends so far, though. The farther one distances oneself, the less trust there is granted. We also suffer from what psychologists call “the halo effect,” which is if we like somebody or something, we like everything about them or it, whether there is any support or not. I once shared an office with a professor of mathematics. She was very good at her job. Her student evaluations were uniformly high, including on the question about the use of humor in her classroom. She basically got an “A” on this question although her class was virtually humorless. They just liked the fact that she was a really good teacher who made math learnable, but not fun. They weren’t expecting fun, but she got props for it anyway.

Which brings me back to the West, Texas fertilizer explosion disaster. As far as I am concerned, there should be criminal charges coming out of the investigation. The primary culprits, though, won’t even get its hand slapped—the chemical industry. Texas Governor Perry went out of his way to get federal responsibility for Texas fertilizer plants to be transferred from the EPA to the Department of Homeland Security. Now the EPA is the agency with the wherewithal to do a good job of oversight . . . Homeland Security, not so much. I don’t imagine Governor Perry got this idea out of the foam on the top of a beer one day. It was specifically requested by . . . the industries involved. They thought HS would be easier to manipulate that the EPA. The request, I am sure, was accompanied by a check to the Governor’s campaign fund.

Now, Texans aren’t particularly angry with the owners of the fertilizer plant. They say “they didn’t want that plant to blow up.” This is true, but if they had been following regulations, it could not have blown up fire or not. The owners lied on federal reports, lied to their community and created a situation, not allowed by law, that resulted in 14 dead and a huge amount of property destroyed.

Now a few Texans take umbrage at us “outsiders” chiming in. Their motto is “Don’t Mess with Texas.” I understand that, too. But those of us who want these people strung up are speaking up, so that these titans of industry don’t do this again or, if they do, it is much less often. And we are part of the same tribe; we are all Americans. We are all neighbors when it come to this stuff.

Yes, the people running the plant didn’t want that to happen. If they were taking orders from above, they should be shamed and let go. (Shamed because they didn’t protect their neighbors.) The real culprits are the people who ordered the skirting of what everybody now can see are reasonable regulations. And behind them are the also culpable chemical industries who have been lobbying state and federal governments to loosen the reins on them, so they can be more “efficient” and “productive,” providing good jobs for the community.

I think they need to take a look at what’s left after the explosion. No jobs there. Not a one . . . now.

And they are still doing it. A letter was sent to the President from some Congressmen, asking for oversight for these plants not be giving to the EPA because they were likely to be too zealous. This letter was also signed by agents of two of the chemical companies.

1 Comment »

  1. That makes me feel a little better to know that business-EPA relationship is not yet cozy enough, and that the industry is still afraid of the EPA.


    Comment by List of X — April 29, 2013 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

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