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Dr Reagan’s Miracle Cure, Celestial Passport and Snake Oil Extravaganza

Nuclear power, shock and awe and economic bullshit. There is a relationship here.

Now, let’s start with the Japan disaster. Japan is an ACT of GOD away from utter destruction at any given moment anyway. A huge earthquake and a tidal wave and they only have one reactor complex totally tits up? Actually, not bad. Of course, they haven’t really figured out where they are in terms of recovery — probably in the devastated areas, Haiti level — and who knows how many of orders of magnitude they’re off on the number of dead.

Now, if you put a nuclear reactor on a coast subject to Tsunamis with the land subject to monstrous earthquakes, then you obviously have a lot of risk to mitigate. Mitigation costs a lot of money. Private companies are in business to make money by selling a good or service at which they can turn a profit. The more they can sell and the less they have to spend, the more money they make. It’s not necessarily evil to skimp on infrastructure to protect the cores…shortsighted and ultimately disastrous, sure. But, think of all the days that they didn’t have a 9.0 quake followed by a Tsunami.

So much for using market forces and private companies to produce a public good. Dumb idea; there are things that government does better and there are things that private sector does better. If you want a lot of redundancy and rigorous cost benefit analysis, government is probably a better choice. If you want it cheap, well…you get what you pay for.

As for the radiation hazard, the mess at the reactors is similar in type, if not scope, to a dirty bomb. It’s bigger.

There’s exactly what a dirty bomb is — a chemical explosion that scatters nuclear radiation emitting material over an area. In this case, it’s been a series of explosions and steam ventings and who knows what else. Closer to Chernobyl than 3 Mile Island, a fairly significant chunk of Japan will be a no-go area for a long time. Most of the stuff currently drifting downwind and filtering out consists of low energy emitters — not a lot of gamma and x-rays. Lots of alpha and beta emitters. Which are generally a minor problem at worst unless you breathe them in or consume them somehow. So, yeah, the imported sushi fixins might be something to avoid.

The mainland US won’t see any significant radioactive contamination from this. China and Korea and maybe eastern Siberia and possibly Alaska, yeah, possibly. Probably not. Hawaii, Saipan, Guam…well, gets trickier but probably not.

The fun for the US will come when the next 9.0 hits the west coast, and Diablo Canyon ends up in the Pacific ocean. The east coast hasn’t had a big one for a long time, so they might be due.

Maybe Godzilla will just make things even more special…

Now –March 25 — the Japanese are “quietly” encouraging people who live within 19 miles of the reactors to leave. Plastics In case you’re wondering, that works out to an area of about 3560 square miles. Granted, at least half of that will be Ocean, but 1700 square miles in Japan is a pretty big deal. And, of course, the Japanese depend on the ocean for a lot of food — fish, seaweed, shellfish. In case you’re wondering, the problem with the settling particles, known as fallout, is that they will enter the food chain. Now, if you can stand to not eat food items made in Japan, not a problem. Except, there are these things called migratory animals — fish, birds, etc. and ocean currents. Do we have a problem? As always, define “we.” The global WE has a problem, and the Japanese We have a problem. The US we, not so much…until the quake hits California.

And, why is it that the political classes are so eager to go down rabbit holes? Rabbit holes where there are no rabbits, just vipers and dragons?

There is one area where the WE is pretty universal. Conventional wisdom, by its very nature, may seem normative, but it’s not wisdom. The economic unravelling that we’re experiencing is a pretty good example of that…Now, if somebody advocates a set of ideas that do not work and that everybody else thinks are stupid, why do we consider them prophets? And, why is it that the political classes are so eager to go down rabbit holes? Rabbit holes where there are no rabbits, just vipers and dragons?

Paul Krugman has been a strong voice urging against this, and supposedly we have a messianic sort in the White House who combines the soaring beauty of his rhetoric with pragmatism. Krugman is starting to find that funny, by the way; so, to a certain extent, am I. It’s either that or go psycho and have an aneurysm. The US is not Greece; nor, is the US Japan. But bad ideas played out elsewhere are still bad ideas; and you can learn from mistakes vicariously. It’s better to learn that way — it hurts less. But, the conventional press and the Republicans have managed to get us in a situation where we’re determined to do the same dumbass thing that other people have done to solve the wrong problems in such a way as to guarantee the greatest possible disaster…

But couldn’t America still end up like Greece? Yes, of course. If investors decide that we’re a banana republic whose politicians can’t or won’t come to grips with long-term problems, they will indeed stop buying our debt. But that’s not a prospect that hinges, one way or another, on whether we punish ourselves with short-run spending cuts.

Austerity doesn’t work to jump start a modern economy. I do not mean that the unemployed all need to be given Escalades. But if you increase demand, you’ll get money moving which will result in them at least getting Kias. Or Chevys… But, Krugman eloquently points out that the political classes are mired in a debate about what is not the problem. The immediate problem is demand, not deficit. By focusing on spending cuts, the Republicans are going to do to the US what the Tories have done to Britain. However, we seem stuck doing dumb shit things over and over. Need more energy — let’s put Nukes where they can fuck up a lot of things. Got a problem in the Muslim World — shock and awe. Got an economic crisis — let’s do what has been proven not to work. As Krugman points out…

And then there’s the British experience. Like America, Britain is still perceived as solvent by financial markets, giving it room to pursue a strategy of jobs first, deficits later. But the government of Prime Minister David Cameron chose instead to move to immediate, unforced austerity, in the belief that private spending would more than make up for the government’s pullback. As I like to put it, the Cameron plan was based on belief that the confidence fairy would make everything all right. But she hasn’t: British growth has stalled, and the government has marked up its deficit projections as a result.

Which brings me back to what passes for budget debate in Washington these days.

A serious fiscal plan for America would address the long-run drivers of spending, above all health care costs, and it would almost certainly include some kind of tax increase. But we’re not serious: any talk of using Medicare funds effectively is met with shrieks of “death panels,” and the official G.O.P. position — barely challenged by Democrats — appears to be that nobody should ever pay higher taxes. Instead, all the talk is about short-run spending cuts.

In short, we have a political climate in which self-styled deficit hawks want to punish the unemployed even as they oppose any action that would address our long-run budget problems. And here’s what we know from experience abroad: The confidence fairy won’t save us from the consequences of our folly.

I found myself in a strange discussion the other day — my chiropractor’s wife who is the practice business manager was advocating a “flat tax.” Her idea of the flat tax was that everybody has to pay the same AMOUNT of tax; that way, if you can’t afford the taxes, you can’t live in this country. Elaine makes no pretense of being at all political…but, she has an atomistic view of things that is similar to the nonsense spouted since the 80s by first the supply siders and then the Contract On America types and now by the Tea Party. The worst part is that some of the spouters should know better. Dick Armey and Phil Graham are economists — they know better. They have to…they can do arithmetic. But, philosophically driven by a failed ideology, they continue to proclaim the world is flat and its only by chugging down some more of Doctor Reagan’s magic elixir that we can be saved. Or Friar Tetzel’s celestial passport…

View the original article at Veterans Today

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