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In My Opinion

Tragedy in West, Texas: Where is the outrage about corporate negligence & government inaction?

Bill Van Rysdam head shot column mug April 2013
West, Texas explosion remains
The cause of the explosion in West, Texas, is under investigation. NBC36TV/Twitter

It has been nearly two weeks since America lost a little more innocence when two bombs were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed, scores more injured and a city was left feeling violated.

While Boston (and to some extent, the entire nation) is still is trying to process the tremendous amount of grief, anger and disbelief, politicians and pundits have already begun to use this incident as an argument against immigration reform.  

"We need to protect our borders" is the common refrain of many commentators, and while America does need to carefully determine who it lets into the country, it’s interesting that when it comes to the other tragedy that took place just days later, there seems to be no outcry for reform.

 A story is beginning to emerge of a company that cut corners and failed to file accurate reports, and government agencies who were clueless on what was taking place. 

I speak of course about the catastrophe in a town called West, Texas. Fourteen people were killed, with more missing and injured. The cause of the explosion that took place at a fertilizer plant is still under investigation, but a story is beginning to emerge of a company that cut corners and failed to file accurate reports, and government agencies who were clueless on what was taking place.

Why do we not hear the same indignation from politicians?

Are plant inspections not as sexy as immigration reform in the eyes of their constituents? Could an already fragile economy be hurt by even more government regulation and interference? Is it because we care more about a large city like Boston, than we do a small Texas town? 

More people died in West, Texas than in Boston, yet very little focus is given to how we can prevent such disasters from happening again. Are we to just chalk this up to “the cost of doing business?" 

Yes, what happened in West was an accident, and what happened in Boston was intentional, but does that make any different in the end?

There was a lot of debate when the Supreme Court ruled corporations should enjoy the same rights as people when it came to campaign donations. Perhaps it is time we also hold them legally accountable for crimes committed in the quest for profits.

Issuing large monetary fines does not seem to get the attention of CEOs. Maybe a few months behind bars would.

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