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Japan & cutting our government's funding

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I'm sure we've all heard about the earthquake off of Japan's coast and subsequent waves of Tsunamis. They've reported numbers of deaths that have now gone over 14,000, and a fourth reactor is now on fire. Millions of people are being directly impacted right now, and in the course of the next year, most of us here in this country will feel some impact, whether it's from radiation exposure (in case of catastrophic failure), or even just higher prices because of Japan's economic collapse.

For now though, we need to look at what's going on in our country right now and wonder just how bad we're about to screw ourselves. In this year's budget, we are cutting extreme amounts of money from the budget of the NOAA, who operate our nation's Tsunami warning centers. This won't defund the buoy warning system, but there just might not be any of those slothful government employees in the control room to actually sound the warning system. Further cuts in our budget our also going to limit our ability to help the people of Japan.

When all we look at to fix our budget programs is cutting of programs, we put ourselves into serious jeopardy.

Then there are the cuts to regulations and regulatory agencies, such as those to the Department of Energy. Who cares if we have inspectors and regulators making sure our nation's nuclear reactors are up to code? It's not like there could be a massive earthquake damaging them or tsunamis smashing massive waves into them, right? It's not like reactors in the midwest have to worry about damage from hurricanes or tornados.

By the way, I've heard 'experts' on television say none of our reactors are at danger like those in Japan because we have 'sea walls' protecting those like the San Onofre plant. Unfortunately, the Japanese plants also had sea walls. They even had sea walls there, and their sea walls were designed to be more protective than those around our plants, and they were better maintained. Heck, their plants were designed to remain safe through an 8.2 earthquake. Ours are designed to withstand an earthquake of up to 7.0, including the Diablo plant, which was built right on top of a fault line (albeit the fault line wasn't discovered until Shell came in to drill for oil nearby after Diablo was built).

So far, radiation exposure in Japan is only about 155mr per hour. On average a human receives about 600 mr per YEAR. So, spending two hours within about 20 miles of a Japanese reactor right now will expose you to your annual dose of radiation. In plain talk, the people working there have likely reached their lifetime limits. Residents nearby are in danger of very high cancer rates for the rest of their lives, but most of us won't be affected. Now if the fourth fire gets worse, we'll feel the effects here in California by the end of the week.

I feel for the people in Japan, and hope for the best outcome of the dangers they currently face. Even today they are still being hit by aftershocks as high as magnitude 6.1, and more, smaller, tsunamis are still hitting their shores. I hope the engineers in their reactors are able to get coolant back in to their cores and to prevent full meltdown of their piles. Hopefully the worst is over for them. Further, we as a nation need to give them the support and assistance that is needed.

What we don't need to do is to deny the fact that next week, next year, or sometime forty years from now, we might be in the same situation as they are at this time. Whether we have buildings, like theirs, that can withstand massive earthquakes, whether we have warnign systems that will save lives, or humanitarian rescue teams that can save our people and get us back on our feet aftera similar disaster is going to be determined by what we do with our government funding. Do we consider funding our government for real, to make us as safe as possible, or do we cut and cut and let everything go?

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Very well said. The new conservatives in Washington who feel called to cut, cut, cut with no care at all just what the ramifications are of those cuts are doing a grave mis-service to this country. All our problems won't be solved by simply cutting government funding.

Smart people have set in place regulations that protect people, the economy, the infrastructure and our way of life. Taking a chain saw and sweeping through all of our protections in the name of saving a few bucks is incredibly stupid and shortsighted. Yet that is what is being proposed.

Let's look at just one of thousands of examples. We have a large and active mining industry in this country. It is also safer than brother mining industries in most other countries. Why? Because it is regulated by a governmental agency. Mine owners certainly would like their mines to be safe, but without regulations, they'd be constantly fighting the battle of safety vs. operational costs, and it would be easy to find justifications not to protect workers to state-of-the-art levels.

Many people have never heard of the agency responsible for mine safety and health: MSHA. That agency is analogous to OSHA, which most people are aware of. The Mining Safety and Health Act provides a legal structure for mine operations, and there is a network of inspectors who tour mines, both over- and underground, and all ancillary mining activities. They inspect electrical, mechanical, vehicular, explosive and many more activities. They test for cleanliness of restrooms and eating areas. They make sure required instructional programs and training are being done as mandated, and records kept. They check that safety gear is warn where required, and stored so as to be kept in working order. They do all this and much, much more. And the result is, we have perhaps the safest mines and mining activities in the world. Do we really want to cut funding and so the effectiveness of MSHA? Or OSHA? Or so many other governmental activies that are for the common good?

Should we cut waste? Of course. But let's not allow a pack of fiscal ideologues wearing blinders to make these decisions. As Dan says, by doing so, we're courting disaster.

C

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Today Eric Cantor, the #2 Republican in the House of Representatives basically said we shouldn't spend money helping Japan. They are facing massive homelessness, massive cleanup, and a disaster that is already worse than any other nuclear disaster except for Chernobyl. Our military forces in the area are being issued potassium iodide tablets because they are flying over radioactive areas and receiving measurable doses of radiation. Tokyo is now receiving measurable amounts of radiation, although thankfully not yet at a dangerous level. Meanwhile our government leaders in the House tell the Japanese "Good Luck, don't ask us for help"???????

We are turning our back on our closest ally in the Asiatic nations.

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I haven't posted much lately because of other commitments, but this thread has struck a chord with me. It has to do with this huge split between our two major political parties. You've talked about irresponsible budget cuts and care of our fellow humans on this planet, and believe me, they are tied together.

DKSTORIES...we haven't turned our backs on our friends in Japan...yet. It was only one idiot's comments so far. Unfortunately, that idiot can sway sentiment. But I still believe our government, as well as the American people, will still step in to help. We won't turn our backs.

Cole, you've made a very good assessment of the damage that irresponsible budget cuts would cause this nation. And this goes directly to the widening gap between our two major parties. The addenda of the "cutter Republicans" is to cut wherever possible without too much public outcry (votes, you know). But it is ideological without the full study of what is going to be the impact on not just our financial bottom line, but also on the jobs lost (not just in the federal government) in the private sector...which seems to go against our struggle to overcome our recession. Budget cutting for only the bottom line "Balance Sheet result" is nothing but disastrous.

We have a responsibility as a nation to support our allies. No, for that matter, we have a responsibility to support every other human being on this planet. We may be the only ones in the cosmos (But I hope that there are more that we just haven't found yet.) and therefore we are "family."

Budget cutting without regard to the potential loss of life or way of living is not only irresponsible, it's insane. And that's what I am gathering from the proposals set forward to cut our Federal Budget.

Yes, we need to do it, to curb spending, but responsibly. I'd like to see justification for each budget cut. Not just in the bottom line, but the impact on all of us as a society. I want to see a study of not just the monetary status, but what will be the real impact on our economy, jobs, the loss of help to a forgotten (by the GOP) population (the poor and needy through no fault of their own). We as human beings have a responsibility to care for our human "family."

Unfortunately, I don't know of anyway that we can force those kinds of studies and disclosures, to make our legislatures do "do diligence."

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Richard,

Let me start by saying that I appreciate your response here. It is thoughtful and reasoned. There are probably several areas of our federal government that can be cut without causing harm to people. Ending NOAA programs such as Tsunami monitoring, or Head Start aren't two of them, but they're the areas leaders in our government want to cut.

As for the comments by Representative Eric Cantor, he's not just one man who can sway opinion. That would be someone like, uh, Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. Represenative Cantor is a member of the House of Representatives. Not only is he a member of the House of Representatives, he is the #2 man in the Republican caucus of that chamber, making him one of the most powerful people in that body. As an example of his power, he was one of five members of the House who voted on whether the House would spend millions defending DOMA. The vote was 3-2, with John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy voting for the House to pay for the defense of DOMA and Nancy Pelosi with Stenny Hoyer voting no. Eric Cantor can do far more than just 'sway' opinion.

I'll be blunt on government spending. It is time to raise taxes. We should give the lie to the myth that raising taxes hurts the economy. Eliminating taxes the way Bush did in 2002 and Obama did in 2010 only hurts the economy. It's like a car peeling out at high speed, it's tires making a loud squealing sound and lots of smoke while the vehicle itself goes nowhere. It's loud, its showy, and all it does is end up hurting everyone. Likewise overhwelming taxes and out of control spending are like brakes being applied at the same time as you're trying to accelerate. Balance is needed, and we have anything but balance right now.

Unfortunately, all we have is extremism.

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