Two Explosions – One Spawns a Sport, the Other Ignored

I hold no sympathy for the Boston Marathon bombers who killed three people and permanently disabled at least a dozen others, but the bombing’s aftermath became surreal.

Far too many people, probably most not even residing in the Boston area, took to social media to disseminate rumors and make unfounded conjectures. Bloomberg News posted a link to provide “live” coverage of the manhunt surrounding the search for the second suspect, as if the manhunt became a sporting event in its own right (no doubt capturing a far higher viewership than the marathon itself could ever dream). And Boston went on an area-wide, quasi-hysterical lock-down, although it was very evident that the suspects’ actions in the bombing’s aftermath showed them to be amateurs, not professionals. Ironically a man, who ignored the police request to stay indoors, found the second suspect hiding out in his boat, not the authorities.

Meanwhile, an explosion at a fertilizer factory in West, Texas killed 12 people to date, wounded 200 others, and 60 for which remain unaccounted. And we learn that

“The Texas plant that was the scene of a deadly explosion this week was last inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1985.” (emphasis added)

Rolling back regulatory oversight is a major impetus behind the drive for federal government austerity. Corporate leaders have found that it is easier to cut off the funding flow to regulatory agencies, rather than take up long and costly lobbying efforts to change legislative regulatory mandates. If the Glass-Steagall Act remained intact to this day, I doubt big banking interests would bother to overturn it; it’s far cheaper to simply hamstring the regulatory agencies who are charged with the mission to uphold the act.

Thanks to an underfunded, understaffed regulatory agency – along with the phenomenon of “agency capture,” wherein a regulatory agency is severely compromised by the very industry that the agency is supposed to regulate – the subsequent regulatory inaction proved far more damaging to far more American lives and families in West, Texas than the Boston Marathon bombing.

We have to ask, who was responsible for the West, Texas explosion? Corporations and governments can inflict as much or more damage than terrorists, by their crass disregard for the safety of workers and citizens. If the fertilizer plant is never rebuilt, it will serve as a major blow to the local economy of West, Texas. However, if the plant is rebuilt, the workers who survived the blast will eventually return, since the town of West probably has very few options for employment. Only then the workers will have to live in daily fear, knowing any given day may be their last.

Terrorists thrive on developing fear.

We also have to ask, why did the West, Texas explosion generate far less interest (save for the first responders), as if the lives of the residents of West, Texas were somehow less important? Perhaps West, Texas is a far less compelling venue for bloodlust sports, since the town lacks surveillance cameras every 10 feet. We simply can’t establish a live feed from West, Texas.

How boring is that?

And for some reason, while writing this post I remembered that plane crash scene with Ezra Stiles (Edward Herrmann) at the stick, from the movie The Great Waldo Pepper.

More insights:

The Boston Bombing Produces Familiar and Revealing Reactions (The Guardian, UK)

The Saudi Marathon Man (The New Yorker)

What Went Wrong in West, Texas — and Where Were the Regulators? (ProPublica)

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