April 03, 2006

Motherhood and Apple Pie Still Popular in the US

The other day I attended a Congressional luncheon by the Westchester Community Affairs (WCA). The best part of the affair was the food. The three House members present made a few remarks about the Indian Point nuclear plant, immigration, healthcare, and how hard everybody works to bring good things to life. Obviously this wasn't a symposium whereas a good debate would take place, nor it was the place to acquire knowledge. The elected officials didn't really make news, nor did they fall outside their wide platitudes of all things to all people.

On Indian Point all agreed that there have been serious violations and safety
concerns. The agencies charged with supervising our nuclear plants are dominated by industry insiders and have the efficiency of heck-of-a-job Brownie's FEMA. So, the 20 million people within 50 miles of this plant still face a grave threat. I suppose that the nuclear plants are here to stay as the President's vision of the future (in addition to a Rapturist view) reveals. On healthcare, the most pointed remarks against the failed system and the few who make multi-million dollar bonuses for keeping the rest of us holding the screw came from the WCA's director C. Mooney. The responses from those in-the-know were targeted at blaming the "wrong-doers" but not much in terms of fixing a healthcare system that costs so much and leaves so many Americans unprotected. There were some ideas for yet a few more patches in a worn & small-sized quilt that leaves too many of us exposed. No one wants to talk about a single-payer, universal health care system. We spend 17% of GNP on healthcare, more than any other country. Canada and Switzerland come in second place as the big spenders with 12% and with universal coverage. I wonder how many more Americans are at risk from an inadequate health care system than they are from the deadliest terrorists...

Speaking of terrorists, all are for a secure border, whatever it takes. Never mind that the terrorists didn't need to climb a fence, dig a tunnel, cross a desert, to get in here and do their work on 9-11. We couldn't wisely use our laws and tools at our disposal to prevent the attacks, so instead of being smarter we built a bigger bureaucracy, named it in Orwellian fashion, The Dept. of Homeland Security, and passed draconian laws to make us less free. Immigration poses a threat to our way of life, our economy, our culture, they tell us. Most of the arguments today aren't new at all. They've been re-circulating every so often since the 1800s! A bad law doesn't address reality, and if we get a bad law today it'll stay on the books for a very long time. Maybe DeLay's disgraceful departure from the House will open the door for some fresh air this November.

Like millions of Americans who break the law by buying prescription drugs from Canada, the undocumented immigrants skirt a bad immigration law that's even worse in its application & enforcement. In the din of the forks & knives hitting the china, there was agreement in the room against giving amnesty "to those who broke the law." Though, I think I heard some murmur from the waiting staff, and then I thought that those remarks should have been delivered after all the food and drinks had been served. Having a full stomach, I wanted to ask those upper class people why they've already given amnesty to themselves and to all American businesses that have benefited from this hard-working and underpaid labor pool....

Anyway, I can say that there were many well-intentioned people present and it was nice meeting some of them. I hope I'm invited to the next WCA's Congressional luncheon, because I don't often get to have such a scrumptious food for lunch. And, you know, working in the academia makes one very hungry.


Anonymous said...

socializing with the elite, heh?

sam said...

An nuclear industry insider said that those plants will never be closed on the cost factor Of course, it depends how you measure this cost, but I the safety issue is what might shut them down.

Like you said, there are many millions of people within close proximity to Indian Point, and I can tell you (as I'm one of them) that most of them have no idea what to do in case of an emergency.

JS_VP said...

How easily it trips off the tongue, (or slips onto the keyboard)..."obviously there have been serious violations and safety concerns"... In actuality, a "concern" lives in the thoughts of the one concerned, so that portion might be true. As far as serious violations--it is just not so. Had it been so , the plant would be closed right now. I task you to name them.

As far as the "concerns", a local cottage industry of planting, nurturing, and harvesting fear about IP has been a career for some, a sideline for a few, and has a well developed mythos.

I urge all not to add to it.

The huge quiescent monster on the Hudson, is undoubtedly ugly,but just as undoubtedly the reason environmental conditions are so good hereabouts

I live one mile from Indian Point. All I expect from the plant is electricity, and I am never disappointed.

pete seeger said...

OK, not everybody has the same understanding of what "serious" is. And, I don't have confidence in the agencies supervising IP.... I'm not a betting person, I don't believe "God will provide", and I'm suspicious of insiders who have so much to gain by NOT doing their job.

I'm not necessary against nuclear energy, but because of the cost--yes, there's a cost AND emmissions--we have to be prudent and leave politics out of it. Unfortunately, people from both sides of the issue have not been enganging in an honest discussion in my estimate.

As for the violations, the recent town meeting in Peekskil, NY, revealed some. Radioactive water from the plant leaking is serious enough for me, as the mis-statements by IP as to amounts, locations, etc.

The "no-emiissions" language is another example of mudding the issue. Maybe the emmissions don't get into the air, but there's a problem for disposing nuclear waste that has a half-life of thousands of years, in containers that don't last that long, transporting accross the country to bury in someone else's backyard, etc,etc.

Obviously we have a problem with our increasing energy needs, while we're not having an honest national discussion about it.

Yes, there are people on both sides of the issue who have gained & and will continue to do so by the status quo. Battling IP maybe a "cottage industry" for some, but those in charge of IP and the RNC aren't exactly "neutral parties" either.

JS_VP said...

Wow.... I'm in a conversation with Pete Seeger?
Amazing, and thanks for taking an interest. What confuses me, is how you say there are people who can gain somehow by not doing their job(s)? That's ludicrous. There are no Joe Browns at Indian Point. The entire complement there, good river-townsfolk all, are premium quality, trained to a tee, watched like a hawk, and dead set on perfection. Con Ed's groundwater problem, aside from being trivial (do you realize what the prefix "pico" denotes?), is not Entergy's problem, except to fix. Think of this, Mr. Seeger--- had IP been closed as some wished immediately post-9-11, the tritium & Sr90 would have leaked ad infinitum, never discovered, never fixed, the property of the incompetent and crooked Andrew Spano do-nothing regime. Spano would have either declared no budget to fix the problem, or simply diverted public opinion with another sleight of hand maneuver---pedophiles maybe, or drunken teen parties. Entergy, with billions in the fixup coffer, are in full earnest about fixing Con Ed's mess. Do you understand what a benefit this is? If they lose interest, and throw in the towel, you will have tritium washing the rudder of your schooner, and hydrocarbon filth sullying her sails, all at the same time, from the replacement technology, which will burn hydrocarbons. As it is, all suspicions aside, Entergy is an environmental godsend for the Hudson. Maybe you ought to write them a ditty.

John Sweeney
Verplanck N.Y.

JS_VP said...

Some addenda are in order, vis-a-vis my reply to Pete Seeger's post. Following his statements individually might be the easiest.

He said: "People from both sides of the issue have not been engaging in honest discussion"

What a fine assessment.
I've found the inferences, sly asides, assumptions, and myths, of the "shut-it-down" crowd to be the bulk of their position. Perhaps partly forgiveable, simply because they are advocates, and wish to convince, these myth-building less-than-truths have unfortunately become their staple stock-in-trade. I could say, in using them, anti-Indian Point advocates are slipping to the laziness level of our infamous Mr. Joe Brown, who seems to be standing in everywhere these days as an icon of incompetence. Inferring, implying, fostering false fear, are these true advocacy, or must I coin a phrase here, and dub them "Untrue Advocacy"? My suggestion, is that in the face of the realworld service the plant provides, and the lack of any serious event, concern, or anomaly there in 35 years, that one might begin to reconsider the anti stance, and its underlying logic, despite any embarrassment suffered in admitting errors of overindulgence past.

Mr. Seeger states:"As for the violations, the recent town meeting in Peekskill, NY, revealed some"
and again: "Mis-statements by IP as to amounts, locations, etc."

I'm sorry, Pete--there were no mis-statements.
Entergy , in pursuing the dry cask storage insisted on by environmentalists, found Con Ed leaks, reported them, and has begun a deep investigation, with a view toward two things :
1) absolute 100% forthcoming honesty & promptness in reporting and
2) an absolute 100% commitment to fixing what Con Ed left.

Let's not decry "no honest discussion", and then skew our own statements about who said what, or did what.
Entergy performed two times over, as if they were environmental champions. That is because they are.
Just imagine that huge shuttered monster, sitting on your beloved Hudson, with no interested, expert, well heeled, fully staffed science contingent present, just some Westchester County security guards, and no Westchester County infrastructure to deal with the monster, and its radioactivity.
It makes me shudder, and I know it must make you shudder even a bit harder than me.

The new era in local environmental action, must be the era in which both sides accept reality.
Entergy has discovered the reality of the Con Ed leaks, and has responded nobly.
Environmentalists must accept the reality of their own incompetence to deal with the situation,
except through an expert proxy, which just happens to be Entergy.

This means, the old "Feel-Good" halfway measure of thoughtless oppositionism, (inherited from some great old radical campaigns, its true), has run its course, and is now visibly bankrupt. The ship is coming in, Pete. You have a hero, willing to clean your Hudson for you. All they ask is an end to the traditional and, I must say, dumb programmatical mistrust which cripples the movement in cases where they could actually get what they've wanted, but just cannot accept victory, in a new form, given by the society without requiring an October revolution.

Entergy is not the Czar, Pete.
All they want to do is clean your Hudson,
and then light up its shores.
Who could object?

John Sweeney