[lit-ideas] Re: non-news

  • From: John McCreery <mccreery@xxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 11:44:36 +0900

On 2004/08/10, at 2:07, Paul Stone wrote:

> Has NOTHING to do with nuclear power per se. IT was a steam leak and 
> at NO
> time was anyone in danger from a "nuclear accident" but the PRESS once
> again whips the fervor.

Hi, Paul.

I'd agree with what you say if the issue were only one accident that, 
technically speaking, might have happened in an oil or coal-fired power 
plant. But to see it in this light is to ignore a continuing stream of 
incidents that have cast serious doubts on Japanese nuclear 
industry/regulatory agency claims that everything is well under 
control. Broadening the perspective further, I see critical issues that 
affect many industries that affect our lives and well-being.

My thesis is this: Industries start with technological breakthroughs. 
While the breakthrough technology is new, smart, dedicated people find 
the new industry an exciting place to work. Problems emerge, however, 
as the industry matures, the excitement moves elsewhere, and its jobs 
become routine. Routine leads to boredom and slacking. Accidents 

This process is aggravated when bean counters take over an industry's 
management. Since upside growth is limited, increased profitability 
depends on cutting costs. Cutting costs leads to cutting corners, 
cutting corners encourages slacking. More accidents happen.

Nuclear power is only one of numerous examples but an especially 
frightening one since, while the accidents to date have been minor, the 
consequences of a major accident may have catastrophic consequences 
(think Cernobyl). Failing to properly clean milk storage tanks (another 
famous local instance) may only result in food poisoning for a few 
hundred people; a nuclear meltdown could affect tens or hundreds of 

Given the possible downside, plus the well-known tendency of 
irresponsible people in positions of responsibility to cover their 
butts, it would be naive in the extreme not to take this kind of 
incident seriously, let alone accept industry/government assurances 
that all is well after all.

John L. McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd.
55-13-202 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama, Japan 220-0006

Tel 81-45-314-9324
Email mccreery@xxxxxxx

"Making Symbols is Our Business"

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