Lessons from Chernobyl

President Trump correctly stated that the 2020 election would essentially be an election between capitalism and socialism as Bernie Sanders and the rest of the field of Democratic presidential candidates do not allude to their socialist plans. At least Bernie is the most transparent of the socialists - he took his honeymoon in Soviet Russia and praised Fidel Castro in Cuba and Manuel Ortega in Nicaragua. If that is not disturbing enough, you should watch the HBO miniseries, Chernobyl, chronicling the real-life disaster of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine, SSR.

Reactor No. 4 of the power plant exploded in the early hours of April 26, 1986, releasing plumes of radioactive particles for 10 days from Ukraine and Belarus to Western Europe, the UK and Scandinavia. The amount of radiation released was 400 times that of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While I leave details of Chernobyl to the miniseries, the point of the accident is to reveal the inherent disaster of socialism and the bureaucracies created to implement their policies.

The Chernobyl explosion occurred while running a test of backup generators simulating a power outage of the nuclear reactor. We now know the catastrophe resulted from design flaws and human mistakes, which I attribute to socialist bureaucracies and bureaucrats either striving to maintain their positions within the system or looking for promotions to a higher authority. The No. 4 reactor was allowed to go into full generation although it had not completed a test of the backup generation system; the engineer and his superior were determined to complete the test on that day despite a delay which caused an untrained crew to carry out the test. The delay was in response to providing power to manufacturing plants desperate to meet production quotas. The engineer wanted to be the one who had carried out the test, which would lead to a promotion to another position. The design flaw resulted from using nuclear core materials that were cheaper than a safer design. This flaw was known, but the records were scrubbed of this information by members responsible to the Central Committee because these types of reactors were already operating in various parts of the country and revamping all the reactors was an expense they would not undertake.

Socialism promotes a welfare state providing various needs of the populace. Bureaucracies are created to implement those policies; run by bureaucrats with self-serving intentions and convoluted chains of command, and there never is enough money to run the system. Chernobyl is a stark reminder of the failings of a socialist system. Socialism came at a price to the Soviets - to provide energy to the masses, nuclear power plants were constructed on the cheap, warnings were ignored, erased, and engineers acted recklessly for their self-interests.

And that is the inherent problem with any bureaucracy in administering any policy. The same problems exist in Social Security and the Veterans Affairs. No one single person is in charge, and bureaucrats are concerned with their promotions, quotas and job security rather than serving the citizenry. Funds and care are rationed because there will never be enough money in the system to meet the needs of everyone, but jobs are kept if a quota or benchmark is met. Watch Chernobyl and see if that is the type of government you want. Bernie Sanders and the rest of the Democrat candidates are touting democratic socialism - don’t fall for it, Chernobyl was disastrous enough.

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