Lessons of the West Explosion: Government Regulation Bad; Government Money Good

Categories: Schutze

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All I want is to connect the dots. You help me. Mayor Tommy Muska, whose town of West just suffered what has been called the worst industrial accident in the 15-year history of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, is on the front page of The New York Times today agreeing with Governor Oops that government regulation is not the answer.

Muska says any analysis blaming the blast on the utter and complete lack of routine safety procedures in West before the blast is "Monday morning quarterbacking."

See also:
Bryce Reed, a West EMT Whose Best Friend Died in Blast, Arrested for Having "Destructive Device"

OK. Even if their fertilizer plant blows up, kills 15 people, injures 200 and destroys a swath of the town, people in West still don't want the government, especially that federal one, sticking its long nose under their tent. Ferocious independence till death do us part. Got it.

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Wikipedia
"Listen, pard, we don't need no government paper, less'n it's green."
But here on the same day on the front page of The Dallas Morning News we've got what sure sounds like the same town -- West, Texas (there's only one Czech Stop, right?) -- where everybody is rushing down to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to get themselves signed up on the federal dole for some help. And bitching about having to fill out the forms!

"It's unbelievable," one lady says. "It's indescribable. It's hell."

Back over in the New York paper, Chuck DeVore, vice president of policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, is telling a reporter the last thing people in Texas want, blast or no blast, is "battalions of government regulators who are deployed into industry and presume to know more about running the factory than the people who own the factory and work there every day." (Battalions of criminal investigators, who this morning arrested volunteer West EMS worker on charges of possessing a "destructive device," are a different matter. It will take at least a battalion of those guys to figure out exactly what went wrong.)

However the investigation shakes out, a big question remains: How come after the blast happens, people in Texas want the federal bail-out money? And they want it now. Without a bunch of big forms to fill out. Just come by the house and drop off the check.

I get the whole ferocious independence cowboy thing. Sometimes I love it. It's like watching a good John Wayne movie. Governor Oops shooting his gun and stuff. Cool. But how come John Wayne always winds up down at the federal building boohooing and blowing snot over how long it's taking him to get his federal welfare check?

If you really don't believe in government and you really don't want even the minimal level of safety regulation -- the kind that would have told that fertilizer company to stop storing huge amounts of explosive chemical near a school, nursing home and apartment building -- then, fine. Show your commitment to your principles by not taking a dime from the government when the plant blows up.

There's a cost for some principles, right? The Times story reports that for the last 10 years Texas has suffered the nation's highest rate of workplace fatalities, more than 400 a year. The story says, "Fires and explosions at Texas' more than 1,300 chemical and industrial plants have cost as much in property damage as those in all the other states combined for the five years ending in May 2012.

"Compared with Illinois, which has the nation's second-largest number of high-risk sites, more than 950, but tighter fire and safety rules, Texas had more than three times the number of accidents, four times the number of injuries and deaths, and 300 times the property damage costs."

And there it is. The price. So tell me why, when that bill comes due, we want the federal government to pay it for us. Just connect me some dots. All I ask. Mamas, don't let your cowboys grow up to be crybabies.


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22 comments
toddsolley
toddsolley

Jim, could it be they expect their FEMA checks promptly because they've always had to pay their federal taxes promptly?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Jim, How about regulation that doesn't allow a nursing home to be built adjacent to the fertilizer company?


This scenario has played out time and time again in industrial areas.


Another more recent one covered in this blog is the Exide Lead Smelter/Recycling facility that was located in Frisco.  All accounts that I read overlooked the fact that the City of Frisco had actively lobbied Exide to locate the plant there in 1964.  And just a few years ago, Exide became the villain when it attempted to install equipment to meet new EPA emission requirements.


The question as to why the City of West allowed the schools, apartments and houses to be built adjacent to West Fertilizer is exactly the same question as to why the City of Frisco allowed houses to be built close to the Exide plant.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Also the tea party mantra about lawsuit abuse. Bet the residents there are looking forv ways around the caps....

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Ya, let all the 'no government' people buy the defective toys and e coli meat. Bet they change their tune prettyvfast.

PersistentID2345
PersistentID2345

 "Compared with Illinois, which has the nation's second-largest number of high-risk sites, more than 950, but tighter fire and safety rules, Texas had more than three times the number of accidents, four times the number of injuries and deaths, and 300 times the property damage costs."

I call bullshit:

http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/os/pr116tx.pdf

http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/os/pr116il.pdf

http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/rate2011tx.pdf

http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/rate2011il.pdf

 

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

People can be stupid, government can be wastefully incompetent, and both political parties practice "crony capitalism"   Gee didn't Will Rogers cover this around 90 years.    

"I bet after seeing us, George Washington would sue us for calling him 'father.'"
 

muddystick
muddystick

Let's see....YOU, euphemistically speaking,  want to build a nice cottage feet from the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico...hurricane comes along, wipes out your nice cottage and YOU want ME to pay (through my taxes) for YOU to rebuild the nice cottage in the same place so the cycle can be repeated in a few years?

YOU, euphemistically speaking, want to operate a fertilizer plant and dangerously store hundreds of tons of explosive ammonia nitrate, carry a mere million bucks of liability insurance and then, when the plant blows up, YOU want ME (through my taxes) to pay for the enormous loss of life and property? 

That's just socialism wearing a mask.  It is not, as come have claimed, "insurance".  

Now, since EVERYTHING we don't like - and we sure don't like socialism - has got to work its way back to Obama... you know us cowboys don't like that socialism 'cause that's what Obama is...he's a community organizing socialist!

So, why don't they open the FEMA office earlier?  I got stuff to do!

Threeboys
Threeboys

To me the irony is that those bitching about not wanting so much government in their lives (of which, I am one) are also bitching about the time it takes to fill out the paperwork.  I do agree that if they are paying into that government system, even though they are fundamentally against it, they have the same right to pull from that system when they have a genuine need (I was unemployed almost all of 2012 and did draw unemployment).

What really kills me is that those same people will bitch when they hear a story about people bilking the welfare/unemployment/CHIPS/add your stealing from a government service here and how easy it was for those people to steal.  These are the same people who want safe sky's but bitch in line at the airport about taking their shoes off or pouring out their bottle of water.

NOWiGETit
NOWiGETit

Oh man, I think schools are spending too much!  I should just not send my children to school.


The post office is inefficient and spending to much!  Best not send mail.


You don't like that newfangled bridge they erected to West Dallas?  Hope you're not driving on it!


I thought you were better than this Schutze.  Psh.

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

Q: Who proofreads the headlines around here?

A: No one apparently.

Edgar
Edgar

Not sure that's entirely fair.  A precedent has been established that the federal government pays for these types of things, and Obama was quick to agree that the feds would help.  Taxes make that possible.  The people of West paid taxes.  They're essentially cashing in on an insurance policy that they've paid premiums on.  It's consistent to maintain that the premiums are too high while making a claim under the policy.  You could argue that they're wrong to believe the premiums are too high since the insurance was extremely helpful in this case.  It wouldn't be consistent to want to pay the premiums while rejecting regulation.  This boils down to ideology.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Frisco/West,  or any of the cities that have allowed development in or near the floodplain or near the landfill  - here's a guess, developer goes to the council with a sweetheart deal and promising increased property taxes to public.  Developer and council member know the risk but also know they'll be long gone (with the money) before the issue reaches critical mass.  Then years later the folks who get flooded or can't take the smell sue the city 

anon
anon

@JohnWileyPrice I run a for profit-business, and I promise that my factory/plant is a good addition to your town. And I either have plenty of insurance or I won't hide behind the limited liability of a corporation. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@muddystick 

Yeah, no shit. The real welfare queens are the people who want to drive their Hummers all over the country on perfectly paved federal highways and then not to have to pay for it in taxes. Talk about being stuck on the tit past a seemly age.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Mervis_Earl Nobody who is interest in the subject matter, cares if there's a typesetting error - it's not what they're about.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Edgar Sure, any REASONABLE person would want and deserve a strong response from the federal government.

But the people of West are opposed to such policies.  They say that if we give them money, they'll just waste it instead of using it to get back on their feet.

crimjunkie
crimjunkie

@Edgar Taxes aren't insurance.

Though your post (and Montemalone's) raise interesting questions about the nature of our social contract.  And that's why I come to Unfair Park, after all, for the interesting debates about the scope and structure of our social contract!

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@Edgar It's completely fair.

As for the insurance, there's only $one million in coverage.

FEMA is for natural disasters that strike without warning. See, Mother Nature doesn't have lobbyists to make sure she's self regulated and self insured, so Uncle Sa, picks up the responsibility for that. The fertilizer company, otoh, probably lobbied heavily against workplace safety rules and inspections, and decided insurance was for pussies and liberals, so the owners pocketed the money that should have gone to premiums.

Of course, as usual, the hypocrites conveniently forget all their positions and hatred of government as they  bitch about having to actually fill out a form to get free government handouts. Handouts voluntarily given by the big, bad, Muslim, Marxist, Socialist, POTUS.

ruddski
ruddski

A thoroughly insipid comment, with a typo.

ruddski
ruddski

Bucky, you're a fucking moron.

Daniel
Daniel

@ruddski Shouldn't they have to be drug tested to get the handouts, ruddski?


Just funnin' ya. Only if they're black single moms. 

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