Gulf coast oil spill is offering several important insights beyond the obvious,
if Americans will but look.
Obviously it is an environmental disaster of enormous proportions, a crime against nature and spirit, but sadly, there is considerably more this corporate disaster and probable crime brings to the surface.
demonstrates that oil extraction has become so potentially devastating even in
monetary terms that companies are demanding special exemption from financial
responsibility for the damage they cause. Victims and taxpayers pay, CEOs and
shareholders get the swag. This is
exactly like the nuclear industry’s demand that there be a cap on damages for
which they can be held accountable.
free market terms that these liars and hypocrites like to hide behind, we cannot
afford to obtain energy in this
way. If we could companies could
get insurance to cover the damages.
They would not need special exemption. No more clear signal could be sent that we need to wean
ourselves from such dependence.
It’s so simple only a right winger would have trouble understanding.
More, as bad or worse, is unnervingly likely. The Bush administration and Republican
Party did enormous damage to this country dismantling legally required agencies
and regulations. The Obama
administration has been remiss in undoing the damage. The law has been systematically ignored as has the testimony
of scientists all to serve the desires of big oil. Meanwhile
industry whores in both parties do all they can do prevent the oil industry
from being held accountable for the damage they do to this country. Republican
Lisa Murkowski blocked attempts to raise the liability cap from its tiny $75
million to $10 billion. But Democrat Marie Landrieu is no better.
lawlessness is possible because of the triumph of two falsehoods (Full
disclosure: I once accepted both as true and will happily take on anyone who
still does). First, that business
self interest will lead to safe practices. Second, that the government is inherently less competent
than private industry. Accepting
both theses has gradually led to the inane babble that passes for policy debate
on the right and all to often elsewhere.
They are false.
businesses are intrinsically dishonest. We are discovering that the ‘safety devices” promoted by the oil companies are
as honest and competent as the leadership by the financial industry. At a time when sending and storing data
is at its quickest and easiest, the last 7 hours of crucial data on the
Deepwater Horizon rig are somehow “missing.” Testimony suggests that BP is lying. We are learning that there was widespread cheating on safety tests. We are learning that crime pays for BP because fines are so small relative to
the money made by breaking the law that breaking the law is their preferred
approach. We are learning that “Beyond Petroleum” BP spent as much on advertising in two
years as it did on alternative energy in six, all the while emphasizing its
commitment to such goals in public. If a corporate CEO or spokesperson is speaking, the odds are good we can assume
lies are being emitted. It’s not a
certainty, but it’s a probability.
businesses are intrinsically sociopathic.
Who but a moral monster would give just rescued oil workers papers to sign
claiming they saw nothing amiss and were not injured after being rescued from
the Gulf? Just like the moral
monster Don Blankenship in West Virginia, we now find that they also ignored the most basic
requirements for their supposedly anti-blowout devices. They rejected technologies in use
elsewhere that would likely have prevented the disaster, and argued against
regulations requiring greater safety. BP apparently had no back up plans if something went wrong. And they attempt to control information to prevent our knowing just how
disastrous their mess is.
There is a remarkably easy way to begin shifting to a sane and sustainable way of having energy without tying ourselves to these corporate monsters who are destroying our planet. I have mentioned it before and I will again. Impose a carbon tax on all processes that release CO2, a tax proportional to the CO2 emitted. Begin relatively small, so as to avoid severe disruptions, and have it increase at a predictable and significant rate. REDUCE taxes on Social Security, which will reduce the burden businesses bear for wages and keeping the impact revenue neutral. Let people and their creativity discover how best to avoid taxes by reducing CO2 emissions. Perhaps more than any other measure this would harness private initiative and creativity with the public good.