Note: This lightly edited commentary first appeared on Prison Radio on March 3:

A train races through the cool wintry air, its wheels turning on iron rails until sparks burst into flames, and in the blink of an eye, a city in eastern Ohio becomes the latest scene of a railroad chemical disaster. Some of the trains contained vinyl chloride, which erupts into flame, belching dark funnels of poisoned air into an early morning sky, and a local town, called [East] Palestine, also erupts into fits of fear and fury, a roar: How could this happen? How could it?

One way is when politicians, eager to please voters, cut taxes. You know what happened? Deregulation. That other beloved, cost-cutter, right? Deregulation: That favorite target of so-called conservatives also cut something else — safety.

The disaster that struck [East] Palestine, Ohio, will give residents heart palpitations and deep worry for generations at least. How many headaches, cancers or even unknown diseases may result from this massive chemical spill? No one really knows. Deregulation causes needless disasters. It’s as the saying goes: “Penny wise and pound foolish,” and it may yet cause lives.

With love, not fear, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Mumia Abu-Jamal (guest author)

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