Wild, Wonderfully Contaminated West Virginia
West Virginia (on Thursday night, I believe) was told to not use their drinking water because it was contaminated. When the coal company responsible for the spill was targeted for interviews, they refused to speak to the media. The coal industry provides a lot of jobs in West Virginia, and this spill affected residents of Charleston, the capital, and surrounding towns. West Virginia also has lax regulations for this sort of thing, which is unfortunate.
This spill got me to thinking about the Tea Party and how that group is favored among people of Appalachia and the South. The Tea Party is against keeping government organizations like the Department of Agriculture, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) open. The EPA is charged with protecting the environment, and they place a lot of regulations on companies and tell them how to dispose of waste. The Tea Party interprets that to mean that the government is telling independent business how to run their business, which is a violation of freedom in this country.
Personally, if my food is going to be safe from E. coli contamination and my drinking water will be non-toxic and free from coal chemical spills, I say let these agencies stay in business because the theory of the free market deciding whether these businesses stay open doesn’t really apply here if they’re killing you off through their negligence. Also, if they’re the only game in town and there is no one to stop them, what recourse do you have?
A lot of people in West Virginia are understandably frustrated. There are over 300,000 West Virginians affected. They can’t drink, cook, bathe, or wash clothes in their water now. Tea Party Congresspeople are the ones famous for making speeches on the floor of the House or Senate, saying that the government needs to leave people alone; disaster relief is a waste of taxpayer money and we should let states handle their disaster relief efforts or allow private companies to offer disaster relief. (I don’t want a private company charging me for a disaster relief insurance policy, then turning around and skipping my house because I didn’t pay last month’s bill and don’t “deserve” to get rescued. Too many companies these days serve money and not people, and people are expendable if the money ain’t right.)
So, there are people who are grateful for the Obama Water they’re getting from that National Guard and FEMA, and then some (apparently) are not:
When is enough, enough? When will people realize that in order for capitalism to work correctly, there needs to be a proper balance struck between corporate responsibility and government regulation? “Government get out of my way,” isn’t a good thing. If the EPA weren’t around, do you think the coal company would have said anything about the spill? Sure, they would have said something after people went to the news about the licorice-smelling water, but considering that they refused to speak to media or say anything about the spill initially, I just don’t trust them (or other similar companies) to do the right thing.
Should government back off? Should we strike a balance? Are there any companies left that do the right thing without making the “right thing” profitable?
In other news, if you’re interested, Beyonce wrote an essay (or did she?) for The Shriver Report. It’s about how gender equality is a myth. The essay has statistical data and the word “commensurate”. Mm hmm hey hmm hey. How is the world reacting to this? Check out this Storify to see my predictions that are playing out now on Twitter.