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Multinational corporate power is growing. Particularly under the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI), it will threaten the power of elected governments to protect their citizens. The few rich in every country become filthy rich, and the world's masses become more abjectly poor. The corporate promoters of nuclear power and nuclear bombs are not basically different in operation from other multinational corporate enterprises. Corporate greed for profit from oil, combined with private greed for automobiles, pollutes the environment and causes wars of aggession. The appalling difference between nuclear and all previous applications of corporate power is the unlimited capacity of nuclear processes to pollute the world with everlasting deadly radioactive products.
The "military" nuclear age was born in the violence visited on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Now the radioactive products of "peacetime" nuclear energy augment nuclear violence at home and abroad. The nuclear business may be only the newest and most obscene example of a growing worldwide malaise, based upon modern corporate development and the misuse of human greed.
Living conditions for me and for many other people in the United States have changed from rural to municipal during my lifetime. Large numbers of farm families followed a partly self sufficient form of living. The County Agent offered ideas, then current with the conservation-oriented US Department of Agriculture, for saving and improving soil: rotating crops, spreading cow manure and lime on hill pastures, experimenting with various methods to prevent soil erosion. Then the Department of Agriculture abandoned conservation and preservation and sold out their farm-family clients to the new chemical-and-machinery-based agribusiness.
THE NEW ERA OF CORPORATIONS
Early corporations as they grew were examined for their dangers as monopolies. The "good" corporation I was most aware of as a boy was represented on the farm by a much used Sears & Roebuck "wish-book" catalog of products for farm and home. The "exciting" corporations built automobiles, trucks, and tractors.
Henry Ford was a first generation American-born farmboy who decided at the age of thirteen that he "was by instinct an engineer." He left school at about fifteen. Starting in 1906, theFord Motor Company built the standardized "Model T," about which Ford said " any customer can have a car painted any colour he wants, so long as it is black." His mass-production methods enabled so low a purchase price that, by the time I was born in 1914, nearly a million Model T Fords had been sold. Ten years later cars were rolling off the Ford production line at the rate of one every fifteen seconds.
As a boy I wanted, like Henry Ford, to be an engineer. With my belief in a technological panacea for thankless hard work I argued that my father should purchase a tractor, then quite new and rare on the scene. He answered that he could raise a horse from a colt and could raise the oats and hay to feed it, but he had to buy the tractor and everything it used, with money he didn't have. Against his idea he had not only mine, but also those presented in corporate ads and by the changing Department of Agriculture.
The corporations and I, with the help of the changing Department of Agriculture, triumphed over my father's ideas. One early example of "new" corporate farming was dousing New Jersey's potato crop with arsenate of lead to kill potato bugs. That poison still lurks in the soil under the gardens of the suburbanites who, having replaced New Jersey's dairy farmers, now occupy Warren County.
The farms of my early experience were owned by struggling farm families. Now the world's farms are generally owned by agribusiness corporations which, having displaced the farm families, work the earth with mammoth tractors and combines, and grow their crops with commercial fertilizers and pesticides which poison the hired help as well as the customers.
More and more. as time passes, international corporations hire us to produce and sell the products we use. Nearly all of us now need to have corporate jobs. If we are fortunate we may find employment making automobiles (or nuclear reactors). Then we must support the automobile business by buying an automobile (and support a spreading government subsidy for the economically failed nuclear power business).
This has become, I believe, a vicious circle which short-circuits peoples fundamental right to eat and to make independent judgements about nuclear power, or about smog-producing automobiles.
In 1963, because of my concerns about the economics and safety of nuclear power, I quit the development of nuclear reactors. I believed that their poisonous radioactive products were unacceptable, and therefore no reactors should be built. Furthermore I believed that nuclear power was an economic failure, and that a rational world would choose to build no more reactors. In the real world it took ten years for US electric utilities to reach that conclusion. All reactors ordered in the United States since 1973 have been cancelled. The US nuclear industry would be in bad shape indeed were it not for government subsidy.
Some developed countries, particularly France and Japan, have continued to build reactors, while some other advanced countries, including Sweden, have discontinued their programs. The US and international nuclear corporations would like to revive and expand their markets in third-world countries, including China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.
In my innocence I failed to realize that, for some corporate and government bodies and for university professors, important arguments for nuclear power override their radioactive dangers to public safety and their negative economic results. Sales of reactors both here and abroad could increase profits of US nuclear corporations at US taxpayer expense. Reactors provide prestige and the means to produce great arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, which appeal not only to my country but to many third-world countries envious of our macho status.
If we do not now stop the nuclear corporate enterprise the rotting hulks of their plants will still be emitting radiation in Indonesia after the last of their progeny, and ours, has died from radioactive emanations. Their charter from the Multilateral Agreement on Investments will have fulfilled its purpose.