Taxpayers Pay for Government Mistakes

January 7, 2009 9:24PM

By Shaka Mitchell If there is one thing we can all learn from the disastrous toxic ash spill in Kingston, it’s that when government-run companies fail, no one is held accountable, but everyone pays. Albert Einstein famously said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Continuing to trust politicians and bureaucrats with our health and safety after being let down in truly epic ways time and time again, shows that we all must be crazy. The Tennessean’s research indicates that, despite their promise of safety, officials at the Kingston Fossil Plant knew of problems that could have serious implications. To fix these problems, TVA officials made the politically expedient decision; they went with the cheapest, fastest option. As a result of this bad choice, one BILLION gallons of arsenic-infused coal ash sludge is seeping further into the ground this very moment. In contrast, the Exxon Valdez spilled a comparatively modest 11 million gallons of crude oil in 1989. But who can forget the pictures of black, oily birds that flashed across television screens every day after the Exxon tanker ran aground? The country, understandably, would not let a private corporation get away with such contamination.Shockingly, when a government-owned corporation is responsible for burying 400 acres under toxic sludge, it receives scant national attention. Worse still, the system that allows unaccountable bureaucrats to take control of, and potentially ruin, our lives is not being criticized. Where’s the outrage? Where are the specials hearings and calls for resignations? When a private company screws up, someone is held accountable. People stop buying its products. Shareholders fire the CEO. The company goes bankrupt. But when a government-run company has a similar problem, no one takes the blame. Officials at TVA don’t have to answer to shareholders or voters. Government run companies, like the TVA, are interested in one thing; maintaining their own existence. As long as they keep their jobs, they couldn’t care less about the quality – or dangers – of their product.We are learning an important lesson about the differences between what happens when a private company and a public one impact the community negatively. Exxon had to pay over half a billion dollars to fix the mess it caused, and rightfully so. Troublingly, taxpayers will be forced to pay to clean up the TVA’s debacle.The failure in Kingston isn’t just a failure of walls and dams. It is the failure of socialist-style government conglomerates like TVA to be accountable to consumers. It is time to tell our local, state and federal officials that if they think we are going to give the government even more control – control over our money, homes, businesses and families – they must be insane. ###