Godless Amoral Capitalism at its Purest

Godless Amoral Capitalism at its Purest April 23, 2014

Unskilled and Destitute Are Hiring Targets for Fukushima Cleanup

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  • Dan F.

    That’s such a sad change from this story. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/world/asia/28fukushima.html

  • Dave G.

    That reminded me of that scene at the end of X-Men 3. In chess, the pawns go first.

  • CJ

    The problem isn’t so much recruiting the destitute. It might’ve even been laudable to provide them with paying work. The real problems are the half-assed training and safety measures. Those conditions would be wrong even if they were sending lawyers, politicians, investment bankers and hedge fund managers.

    No, really. It would still be wrong.

    • Heather

      The problem is that they are specifically targeting the destitute because those are the people desperate enough for a job that they are less likely to complain about being asked to do slipshod work under poor safety conditions with inadequate training. There will always be someone desperate enough for an income that they will accept all kinds of corner-cutting, and others who don’t care how badly something is done as long as the price tag is low enough, which is why “market forces” have never been a very good industry regulator.

    • How do you know what the working conditions are? Or the training?

      • Heather

        Did you read the linked article? It specifically talks about the poor safety standards and almost nonexistent training leading to numerous leaks and other accidents.

        When a situation has gotten so bad that the people who actually know what they’re doing won’t touch it with a ten foot pole, and the only people willing are not given adequate training to be able to do their jobs safely and are too desperate for the income to question the corner-cutting too closely… Well, that is a problem.

        A couple of the commenters seem to think that the only choice besides this status quo of sketchy sub-sub-sub-contractors is to let the radioactive waste sit and rot. There is actually a third option: clean it up properly by making sure the people you hire to do it are given the training to do it safely and properly.

        • I hadn’t read that far down. So the New York Times claim. Even after reading I’m somewhat skeptical. I work in engineering where there are potential work hazard situations, and everything I’ve seen in my career there is sufficient training for everyone. No one wants an accident because even on just a business level it will lead to a law suit. That is an absolute given. Now I might believe the lack of training and safety if we were talking about a third world, or even say second world, country, but Japan is a modern country with a developed legal system. I’m sure Fukushima would be faced with tons of lawsuits. Plus, Japan isn’t even that much of a free market country. There’s a high government footprint in all their business world. You might as well blame the government of Japan if what’s claimed is true. So Mark’s crack about capitalism doesn’t even hold very much water.

          • Mammon

            Well done, my good and faithful servant!

          • Heather

            “According to regulatory filings by Tepco, the team received only a 20-minute briefing from their supervisor and were given no diagrams of the system they were to fix and no review of safety procedures — a scenario a former supervisor at the plant called unthinkable. Worse yet, the laborers were not warned that a hose near the one they would be removing was filled with water laced with radioactive cesium.

            As the men shambled off in their bulky protective gear, their supervisor, juggling multiple responsibilities, left to check on another crew. They chose the wrong hose, and a torrent of radioactive water began spilling out. Panicked, the workers thrust their gloved hands into the water to try to stop the leak, spraying themselves and two other workers who raced over to help. […]Tepco has refused to say how experienced these workers were, but according to regulatory filings, the company that hired them signed a contract for the work a week before the leak.”

            So that, roughly a quarter of the way down the page, must be a lie? Or not really all that bad?

            • I did go back to read it after you challenged me. Yes, I’m skeptical of those facts. Have you ever been personally involved with a news item? I have both in my work and in a neighborhood crime, and both times the news got major details wrong. The Times says “According to regulartory filings…” Well who says the filings are exactly accurate and there wasn’t other information? All I can say is that what the Times claim doesn’t jive with my experience or common sense. I can’t speak for Japan but a company in the US would be sued like you wouldn’t believe if they did what’s claimed there and there were accidents and health issues. I imagine the laws are similar in Japan.

              • kirthigdon

                Actually it is my understanding that Japan has relatively very few lawyers and lawsuits and completely lacks the litigation culture of the US.

                Kirt Higdon

                • I wouldn’t know either way. I made an assumption. If the assumption is incorrect, that wouldn’t be capitalism, certainly not as I know it. But that sounds very strange. I’ve never heard that. Why would the people in a free democracy put up with that?

                  • kirthigdon

                    Japan has 7 lawyers for every 100,000 people; the US has 281. France and Britain have 33 and 94 respectively. There are many different definitions, types, and combinations of both capitalism and socialism, but this is the first I have heard that capitalism requires hordes of lawyers and a culture of litigation. Actually the US is pretty much an outlier in this area. We have so many lawsuits that I have been the beneficiary of numerous, if trivial, payouts from class action lawsuits which I did not even know I was involved in until I received notice of the payout. Is that how capitalism is supposed to work? I learn something new every day.
                    Kirt Higdon

                    • Yeah, you learned something new today. That is how capitalism is supposed to work, though I think we go overboard. Free market means all parties are free. Are you saying that those countries are more capitalistic than the US?

                    • kirthigdon

                      Well, clearly those countries are less capitalistic than the US if numbers of lawyers and lawsuits are the standard. But I have to ask, Manny, are you an attorney? Because I have never heard anyone argue before, not even on the internet, that legions of lawyers and numerous lawsuits are a measure, indeed a precondition, for capitalism. Here in the Peoples Socialist Republic of Texas, we have something called “tort reform” which severely restricts ability to sue in medical malpractice cases and other areas. Our anti-capitalist ultra-leftist governor, Rick Perry, constantly boasts of his role in this. I guess it gives a whole new meaning to Texas being a red state.

                      Kirt Higdon

                    • No I’m not an attorney; I’m a mechanical engineer, that’s why I’m sensitive to companies being sued for the products they put out. Because of skyrocketing medical costs, medical malpractice reform assumes that the doctor in question is operating with the best of intentions and following standard practices. The overwhelming majority of doctors do so. Good malpractice reform should include a provision to allow to sue doctors that have clearly violated standard practices or have conducted their practice under illegal circumstances. I live in New York, so I don’t know how the Texas law works.

      • kenofken

        Well, let’s see. We have an employer with a 100% consistent record of lying, unsound engineering and operation practices, secrecy and political manipulation to weasel out of any accountability. You’re probably right though. Just because they’ve demonstrated a total contempt for the lives of their longtime employees and customers doesn’t mean they’ll be that way with homeless guys and desperate day labor.

        • 100% record huh? Ridiculous. You don’t even warrant a comment.

  • I am imagine anyone can take the job, whether you’re destitute or not. I doubt they are turning away people. They are just asking those who are most likely to take the job.

  • This is in fitting with long standing Asian tradition, it’s a part of their culture that isn’t going to be changed soon.

    • Rebecca Fuentes

      It’s not just Asians. US meat plants practice this too. They prefer to hire people with little English, or better yet, illegals, because they can be bullied into working longer hours in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, threatened with firing if they take any of their sick days or their child’s school calls, etc.

      • The difference being that we don’t have 4000 years of rigid, planned eugenics breeding people like horses in a strict class structure to do so; which is why we have to rely upon illegal and recent immigrants from societies that do have such a class structure for those horrifically designed jobs. Perhaps one day, quite soon, we’ll be at a point where we can replace illegals with robots.

  • Elmwood

    There is a more pure form of “Godless Capitalism” in Bangladesh with ship breaking. Good story in the latest national geographic magazine.

  • I agree. In fact, no one should have to do this job: they should just keep all that radioactive waste lying around.