Wednesday, April 4, 2012

“Toxic Legacy” Shows Ignorance Can be Bliss, and also Dangerous

By Thomas Babcock

“Toxic Legacy” is a sad example of just how little corporations care about the well being of people, especially those with lower incomes. However, some strong investigative reporting and a persistent attitude can help make all of the difference
The sad irony of this story is that it is undoubtedly just one of many. There are “toxic legacies” out there that may never go reported. In this particular case, it is Ford Motor Co., located in Mahwah, investigated by The Record. What they found is startling. The factory left behind a footprint of an “ocean of contamination” and toxic sludge. It was dumped in poor communities, including where the Ramapough tribe lives in Ringwood.

The handling of these toxins is horrifying. They were dumped in places where either the residents wouldn’t have a say in stopping Ford or wouldn’t notice until it was too late. The story behind the dumping is something out of “The Sopranos.” A vicious mob-rule over waste hauling including bribes, threats and even murder makes you wonder just how far a corporation will go to cover its despicable actions. It also made me question, if this was happening on a very small scale, just how far would the US government go to protect itself from corruption? Being poor does not mean you’re invisible. Being poor does not mean your life is less valuable. But I think that’s the clear message that was being sent by Ford’s actions.

I think as populations grow, people become more sick, and more investigative reporting occurs, we’re going to see a lot more of these stories. And we need to. The population of everyday people far outnumber the elite who run these polluting corporations.

I believe the punishment for these types of actions are not harsh enough. There should be criminal prosecutions. If possessing marijuana can get you sent to jail, then putting entire neighborhoods’ lives in peril should be a lifetime in prison. I, however, don’t think this will ever be the case. Those in power positions seem to get away with corruption more often than not.

The only way to stop this terrible habit corporations have is through the hard and persistent reporting that The Record showed. The point of journalism in this case is to expose things that otherwise would be unnoticed. If enough people care about the story, they will push for a change. The only people who can stop them are us.

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