Saturday, March 19, 2011

All this reactor news is making me tired

I've perused a dozen or so articles this morning that still focus on the wrong aspects of the disaster.

Yes - they need to cool that fuel down. Radiation isn't (and never was really) the biggest disaster to come out of the tsunami.

The big disaster are the lingering micro-economic ripples that come from all of the following:

1. Fear of living near Fukushima. Business, agriculture, and any tangential industries will all take a many-decade hit.

2. Prejudice against those from towns near Fukushima. The Japanese are famously prejudiced against a variety of backgrounds for an even wider variety of reasons. The inhabitants of the area will be labeled and their future prospects severely limited within Japan. My wife was first to point this out as I previously wrote.

3. Tourism. Even the one week is a hit, but what's going to happen will last longer than one week. The reluctance and uncertainty will outlast the immediate dangers of radiation exposure. Business people will probably come back quick, but I think large amounts of tourists will take longer to return.

4. Food. Japan imports nearly 52 billion in food annually, and exports less than 4 billion, so the problem is not one of being unable to feed the population, but one of commerce for these smaller areas. Each area of Japan is "famous" for some particular type of food or drink, and the affected areas will lose this revenue for some time.

All of that is dwarfed by this part:

5. The Japanese government is going to get stuck with the bill for cleanup.

I already commented about this earlier, but the point cannot be made plain enough. Far worse than radiation is the bill to fix this mess. Those consequences, passed on as debt to the domestic and foreign publics (taxes and bonds), is going to really hurt Japan for many years to come. What was already a stagnant economy may have just been delivered a death blow for 10+ years from now.

So sad. Gut wrenching.

Sent from my iPhone 4

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