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Regulated garbage in San Diego, California

Regulated garbage

Opinion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My birth state of Texas claims it is a business-friendly state.

In the case of the massive fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, which killed 15 (current count), injured about 160, and damaged or destroyed about 150 buildings, that business-friendly environment apparently meant that federal regulations were summarily dismissed and ignored, perhaps since 1985 according to some reports.

Is that the kind of business-friendly environment we want?

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, but the plant apparently has a long history of theft. Reports indicate that people were stealing anhydrous ammonia to make methamphetamine. Despite the thefts, the plant had no security guards or burglar alarms, and didn’t have a surveillance system until 2009.

West Fertilizer Company is a private company owned by Adair Grain, another private company. Interestingly, Governor Rick Perry is anti-government (federal government that is, certainly not anti-himself and anti-his-state-government). But each time a disaster happens in Texas, he’s the first to go running to the federal government for assistance (fighting the wildfires a couple of years ago) and he never misses an opportunity to ask the federal government for financial help in cleaning up after the disasters.

Even with a private company, Gov. Perry went to the federal government and asked for help in rebuilding the private company’s infrastructure and caring for their employees. Hmmm. I’m a pretty compassionate individual, having spent most of my life volunteering with Red Cross, American Heart Association, ASCPA, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and many others, but I’m thinking that a private company ought to have appropriate insurance to cover things like this. Of course, they don’t. They play the odds in saving annual premiums while knowing that something like this is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Much has been made of FEMA’s June 13 decision not to provide additional aid to the city of West. The key word there, missed by so many people, is “additional.” On April 22, five days after the explosion, President Obama issued an Emergency Declaration which gave Texas aid with 75% federal funding. People don’t understand what an Emergency Declaration is, and rarely read through the news reports since Emergency Declarations are usually issued in the aftermath of an event, an aftermath which usually has many people nationwide involved in recovery efforts.

California is the exact opposite of Texas. We have lots of regulations here.

Regulated garbage in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

California still has 38,041,000 people living here, and more moving in each day. Sure, there are people and businesses leaving California, such as Buck Knives, founded in San Diego in 1902, moved to Idaho in 2005. There are new businesses being founded every day and for some strange reason, the population keeps increasing.

I find it interesting that California seems to be affected only by natural disasters such as earthquakes and events caused by criminals known as arsonists. I haven’t been able to find anything in recent California history of an event like the West Fertilizer Company explosion, or infrastructure collapsing like the I35W bridge in Minneapolis in 2007. In fact, after the 1989 World Series Earthquake which destroyed several Interstates in the Bay Area, Californians passed more taxes (note that I said “Californians” — people — and not “California,” which would have implied “the government”) to be proactive in retrofitting highway bridges in the State, all of them. Minnesota, on the other hand, has done very little in the ensuing six years to address the outdated bridges in the State, and since most of them were built in the 1960s and ’70s, the future probably holds more such disasters.

As Mr. Spock said so quaintly in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” One can ignore problems, but they won’t go away, they won’t fix themselves all on their own, fixes are not free, and cleaning up after ignoring the fixes definitely isn’t free.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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