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Letter: Disturbing Incident at Vt. Yankee

Disturbing Incident at Vt. Yankee

To the Editor:

In case some readers missed it, there was a disturbing story Sunday about an incident at Vermont Yankee (“NRC: Vermont Yankee Security Violated Procedures”). A suspected pipe bomb was found at the site, according to a report written by a Yankee employee. The professionals working to safeguard Windham County from the dangers of nuclear power production must have thought to themselves, “What would Homer Simpson do?”

They “decided that by duct-taping a piece of string to the pipe and then standing back from it pulling the string to see if it ‘went off’ was the way to handle the situation,” according to the internal report.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission assures us that “there was never a threat to employees or public safety.” Probably because it wasn’t a pipe bomb, it was a discarded pump. Federal regulators, presumably from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that Vermont Yankee violated company safety procedures, but don’t worry. NRC Chairman Neil Sheehan said that the plant owner, Entergy Corporation, has analyzed “what caused the errors and has taken steps to address them,” so it probably won’t happen again.

If you’re not assured, you might want to contact your congressional delegation and request that they work to create some serious and objective oversight of the nuclear industry and that the federal government find a safe place to store the ever-growing stockpile of nuclear waste it has allowed the nuclear power industry to create.

Patrick Kearney


No Way to Treat Customers

To the Editor:

My wife and I read with interest your Los Angeles Times reprint of David Lazarus’ “Dying (and Failing) to End Car Lease” (March 23).

If this is the way Toyota chooses to treat its customers’ families at a time of grief, we will choose another car company next time.

It would seem that intelligent auto marketers and/or insurers could easily craft, and offer at time of leasing, a relatively low-cost option for immediate lease termination and return of vehicle to dealer within 60 days of death. The company and the consumer could both benefit.

Philip and Mary Jane Arvidson


Vt. Legislature Is Arrogant

To the Editor:

“Vt. Senate Votes for Ban on Privatizing Schools” (March 16) was a small article, but it spoke volumes about Vermont.

The town of Westford wants to consider changing its schools from public to private, following the lead of two other Vermont school districts that have already made the change. What does the Vermont Senate do? It declares a two-year moratorium on the process while it “studies the matter.”

What aspects are going to be studied? Well, there are “legal and constitutional issues.” There are also Sen. David Zuckerman’s questions of “how it affects our kids and equal access to education.” I believe both of these are red herrings.

If there are already two Vermont school districts that have made the change, why were they allowed to do so without someone questioning “the legal and constitutional issues.” And, if the answers to the questions in this study are fatal to the schools, does Vermont plan to force the closure of the two existing schools and make the moratorium permanent? Or would Vermont make whatever legal changes are necessary to allow parents to choose how they want their children educated?

Sen. Zuckerman and others in Vermont government believe that the government knows better than parents what the education model should be. They believe that parents are unable to judge how the change would affect their children and might, somehow, damage their children’s future. They believe that those wanting to affect the change are blind to all children’s education needs and will exclude some children to the benefit of other children. They also believe that only government can assess what children should be taught and when. What arrogance. What an insult to parents.

The reasons for wanting to change are really irrelevant. The only consideration should be to permit parents to determine how they want their children to be educated. Vermont ought to let local schools and parents of children that attend them decide the education model that the parents believe will best serve those children.

Alan Tanenbaum


The Power of Propaganda

To the Editor:

In answer to Rick Bourdon (“Citizens, United, Can Change Culture of Political Corruption,” March 1) and his assertion that we can change our political system, I offer this contrasting point of view: The pursuit of self-interest corrupts, and the unrestrained pursuit of self-interest corrupts absolutely.

Propaganda shapes our political discourse. Propaganda techniques have been adopted by advertising (commercial propaganda), designed to convince us that we want things we don’t need. Follow the techniques:

∎ Endless repetition of a sales pitch.

∎  Appeal to authority: A spokesman in a white coat recommends a pharmaceutical product. In politics, evocative words are used: “American people,” “taxpayers,” “heroes,” “warriors,” “freedom,” “jobs,” “rights,” and “ Constitution.”

∎ Bandwagon: “Everybody is buying this, everybody loves this, people agree that …,” inviting us to join the cheering fans in the stands.

∎ Good-looking or popular spokesmen: Entertainers are assumed to carry more authority than most other people who sell things. Handsome or famous spokesmen reflect well on a product or a candidate, right?

∎ Speaking to our fears or hatreds. Strong emotions elicit action. Public statements after 9/11 included appeals to patriotism, rights, freedom, distrust of Muslims and immigrants. Politicians who put winning ahead of ethics have encouraged the revival of racism by manipulating redistricting and voting rules to block voters of color. Unfortunately, propagandists can become message dictators who fear losing their power over the message.

When the American public resorts to propaganda instead of reason, corruption increases to protect the message. Winning becomes more important than doing the right thing, putting the self above the good of the whole. Hence, regulations that protect our safety have been opposed vigorously and Congress chooses to attack and obstruct rather than to govern.

The pursuit of self-interest corrupts a society. John McCain spoke of our corrupt political system. I call it corruption of our souls. Systems are constructed by people, and we as voters have become corrupt in the relentless pursuit of our own advantage over others.

Edith K. Summers


The Problem With Credit Cards

To the Editor:

Last month, during the televised “Puppy Bowl,” a commercial was aired about a young woman doing a happy dance while fueling up her car using a credit card. I am willing to bet she did not do a dance when she received her statement at the end of the month.

Robert Pollard