In an ideal world, last Thursday's headline in the Indianapolis Star - "For 25 years, GM and state knew city lived with PCBs" - would be big news.
Dateline Bedford, the story began: "The whispering began years ago. Amid the plunging hills, towering trees and rocky outcrops of southern Indiana, something was wrong. People developed sores and animals lost their hair after wading in creeks. A dairy farmer's cows disappeared without explanation. Some people living along the waterways developed chronic illnesses or cancer."
It then goes on to explain that General Motors and state and federal governments had known since 1978 that the company's manufacturing plant in Bedford had been polluting the community's water and land with PCBs and essentially told no one about it.
Big news indeed. But, unfortunately, we live in the real world, where corporations like GM, GE, Westinghouse, Monsanto, Enron, WorldCom, Exxon and Microsoft have purchased our government and our politicians outright. They pollute our environment and our bodies with impunity because they own the system.
For example, here in Bloomington, local, state and federal governments told us in the mid-1970s that Westinghouse was polluting our water, land and air with PCBs. They put six area sites on the federal Superfund list. They sued Westinghouse in federal court. And yet, the giant multinational corporation successfully avoided the expense of cleaning up its mess for more than two decades. And still today, PCBs leach into the environment from the old Neal's Landfill just west of Highland Village on Ind. 48. (See ... and click on "Neal's Landfill.")
GE has done the same thing with PCBs in the Hudson River in New York. Monsanto has done the same thing with PCBs in Aniston, Ala. Etc. Etc. Etc.
In the real world, the Star's headline is no news at all. It's business as usual.