Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline need to understand and accept certain realities, and opponents need to do more than protest and sign petitions.
Let’s start with a few realities and wrap up with a specific call-to-action we all should be able to get behind.
1. The price at the pump is not going down…
…and no amount of Canadian tar sands oil will change that.
Oil is a global and fungible commodity. That means it does not matter where the commodity originates. It’s destination is determined by the demand for it in a global market and where the most money can be made from it.
Oil companies are for-profit endeavors. They are not about to increase the supply of their products to American markets if that results in lower prices and declining profits.
2. Energy independence is a myth…
…or more accurately, a lie, when told to us by politicians and businesses beholden to fossil fuels.
Drilling, mining, and refining is the raison d’etre of ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and an entire global industry built on fossil fuels. What better strategy for their businesses than to perpetuate this lie to defend themselves and to garner support for more and more domestic drilling and refining? The same goes for the lies about “clean” coal, too.
We cannot become independent from these dirty sources of energy by drilling, mining, and refining more of that same source. Why not? Because, once again, they are global and fungible commodities. Just because they start in North America doesn’t mean they stay in North America.
Drillers, miners, refiners, and their bought-and-paid for toadies in government are not patriots, they are capitalists. They continue to tell us this lie of “energy independence” because they believe we’re just gullible enough to believe it and, of course, anything that tugs at our patriotic heartstrings must be good and noble and righteous, right?
It’s about money. Are there still people who actually do believe otherwise?
3. If you think West Virginians have it bad right now….
…consider the effects of a spill that contaminates the Ogallala Aquifer, the water source for millions of Americans.
Want a big dose of reality about Canadian tar sands?
Watch the video linked below to understand the abject corruption at the core of the Canadian government on the tar sands and the INCREDIBLE DAMAGE ALREADY BEING DONE IN CANADA.
If that video doesn’t piss you off, nothing will.
Let’s be clear on this reality. It’s not “if” there will be a major spill, it’s “WHEN” there will be one. In fact, they happen all the time. The One Percent Media just doesn’t talk about them. Why not? Because news is no longer news, it’s “media” that fears losing advertising dollars from the fossil fuel industry.
Look, I’m not against capitalism. I’m absolutely certain that Freedom Industries never set out to pollute the Elk River and the drinking water of 300,000 Americans. They’re just the latest example of reality. No one is perfect, no technology is perfect, and unregulated or under-regulated businesses can and will make decisions in the interest of keeping expenses low and profits high. That’s how capitalism works. It’s also why it must be balanced by strong government oversight because sometimes those business decisions have terrible consequences.
This is another reality. The Invisible Hand of the market is a Libertarian myth. Worse that that, it’s a lie, and the rich and powerful who perpetuate that lie on their low-information followers know it. The Invisible Hand is corrupt and it always, always, ALWAYS stays in the corrupt pocket of corporations. It works AGAINST all of us on matters of public safety, the public good, and the economy.
Which brings us to this final reality.
4. Jobs, jobs, jobs
Lies, lies, and more lies.
According to the U.S. State Department the pipeline would create at most 6,500 temporary construction jobs, and would leave only “hundreds” of permanent jobs, according to TransCanada, the Canadian company that wants to build the pipeline. Claims that the pipeline would employ tens or even hundreds of thousands of people are simply not true. A Cornell University study concludes the pipeline would kill more jobs than it would create, by reducing investment in the clean energy economy. (Source: National Resources Defense Council)
I get it. The fossil fuel industry today provides lots of good paying jobs. KXL will not.
It’s not easy to say, but it needs to be said.
Jobs that kill the planet, pollute the land and air, and poison our water, now and for future generations, are part of the problem.
We can no longer excuse or exonerate people working in the fossil fuel industries out of some Randian Objectivism that puts their wants and needs above the health, safety, and welfare of the rest of us.
This is another reality that must be recognized. The fossil fuel industry is killing it’s workers and their families, too. They are not immune from the devastation being done to our environment. Just ask the employees of Freedom Industries if they were drinking their tap water after the spill – or if they’ve even started to again.
What Can Be Done?
Energy and the environment are huge issues, and they are inextricably intertwined. There’s no way of getting around this reality, either. We can’t survive without both of them. We have control over only one of them, and that’s energy.
So what can we do? What can everyone who works inside and outside the fossil fuel industry do?
Here’s what Whitehouse.gov is reporting on that is already happening and is being planned.
Here’s another answer: #GetMoneyOut of politics.
Imagine if we elected people who actually wanted to end subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. Instead of subsidizing the fossil fuel industry like we do, what if we subsidized the technologies and companies working on a clean energy future, at least until they actually could compete with the entrenched and antiquated oil, coal, and gas companies?
Might that not motivate rich and powerful oil, coal, and gas companies to actually rethink their business models?
Haven’t those rich and profitable “socialists” running big fossil fuel companies suckled enough of our tax dollars yet?
Wouldn’t it be better to see growth in jobs that didn’t literally put lives at risk, both on the job and in terms of the environment?
Wouldn’t clean energy jobs on solar and wind farms be preferable to jobs in a coal mine, on a fracking pad, or on an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf that explodes, kills people, and spills 206million barrels of oil into the ocean?
It is possible. We can elect people who actually share this vision of a cleaner, safer, and more prosperous planet for us all if we work together to #GetMoneyOut of politics.
The corrupting influence of Big and Dark Money in politics is at the root of every problem we face. That includes energy and the environment. So long as politicians must raise millions to run campaigns, and so long as large sums of money can be secretly collected and funneled from the tiniest number of rich donors the way it is now in a post-Citizens United system, we will continue to see political decisions made that benefit the rich and powerful few at our expense. Those rich and powerful few include, of course, people and corporations in the fossil fuel industry.
So, if you want to change the political system…..
….If you want to bequeath a planet where our progeny can drink the water and breath the air and eat the food…..
….If you want a better economy and a better job for yourself and your kids and their kids….
….then please take this one simple step to support the process of getting money out of politics:
Become a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act at http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/
And, of course, make sure that you’re registered to vote and that you vote in EVERY election, not just the big ones.
Visit these sites to learn more about the American Anti-Corruption Act and the people behind it at Represent.Us.
Today is the 4th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s infamous “Citizens United” decision.
Why should you care?
Watch the 2 1/2 minute video at…
…http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/ to get a sense of what money in politics is doing to us and to our government. I hope you’ll then decide you want to add your name as a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act. I hope you’ll want to tell everyone to do the same.
After that, visit…
…https://movetoamend.org/ to understand what a bunch of concerned citizens are doing to push for an amendment to our Constitution, “… to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.”
You can sign their petition, too.
Sounds pretty easy, right? It doesn’t take a lot, and every voice counts.
Look, if you don’t do something, who will?
And if you decide to do nothing? That’s your choice, of course.
The way I see it, though, is people who won’t take action – any action – really don’t get to complain about money in politics or the Democrats or the Republicans or the size of government or the size of the military or voter ID laws or how the 2-party system keeps independents from running and winning or fracking or climate science or Roe v Wade or the minimum wage or right-to-work states or class warfare or corporate welfare or Wall Street bonuses and bail outs or George Soros or Sheldon Adelson or Donald Trump or Fox News or MSNBC or Glass-Steagall or the Gilded Age or Obamacare or the NRA or immigration reform or lots of other things that corrupt our representative democracy.
It all boils down to money, and unless and until we – you and I and everyone we know – does something – ANYTHING – to get money out of politics while we get out and vote in every election, well then we shouldn’t expect much to change for the better.
We can do this. You can do this. Why not do it right now?
On this, the 5th anniversary of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, Americans should take time to pause and remember this as yet another heinous crime of historic proportions perpetrated on Americans on a day in September.
It wasn’t terrorists and it wasn’t Main Street who killed our economy. No, this crime was perpetrated on us by a conspiracy forged between Big Money on Wall Street and Small (not Big!) Government politicians who carry their water and actually pass rules and laws that make the crime legal.
That means we’re also to blame. Actually, it’s not all of us who must share the blame.
There’s no other way to say this. It’s Americans who vote for politicians who want to further deregulate all kinds of industries, including the financial services industry, who share in the blame. By electing people who work to shrink government and deregulate industries, we’re actually creating a “Socialism of Wall Street” where the gains of capitalism are privatized to an infinitesimally small number of people while all the losses are socialized to all the rest of America.
How much more proof is needed that deregulation, coupled with greed and power, leads to terrible outcomes for everyone except those with wealth and power? I consider myself to be a capitalist, but I also know from experience that corporations have proven time and again that they cannot be trusted to police themselves alone.
For an excellent accounting and timeline of events that led up to the crash of ’08, I recommend reading this 2011 Forbes piece, Lest We Forget: Why We Had a Financial Crisis.
In it, Steve Denning writes:
Many actors obviously played a role in this story. Some of the actors were in the public sector and some of them were in the private sector. But the public sector agencies were acting at behest of the private sector. It’s not as though Congress woke up one morning and thought to itself, “Let’s abolish the Glass-Steagall Act!” Or the SEC spontaneously happened to have the bright idea of relaxing capital requirements on the investment banks. Or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of its own accord abruptly had the idea of preempting state laws protecting borrowers. These agencies of government were being strenuously lobbied to do the very things that would benefit the financial sector and their managers and traders. And behind it all, was the drive for short-term profits. <emphasis added>
I think “…being strenuously lobbied…” is too polite a euphemism.
It was the Big Money One-Percenters exercising their control over politicians who got agencies to do their bidding. 2008 was the result of the lies Reagan told America about trickle-down economics and the size of government, and the perpetuation of those lies coming from Republicans, extreme neo-cons, and the One Percent ever since. They are the ones who killed our economy in 2008, and they will do it again unless we do something to stop them.
Need more evidence?
Here are some facts about the 2008 bailout, courtesy of Public Citizen.
- Amount the crash cost the U.S. economy: $22 trillion
- How much everyone would get if that $22 trillion were divided equally among the U.S. populace: $69,478.88
- Assets of the four biggest banks in America — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wachovia/Wells Fargo — when they were “too big to fail” in 2008: $6.4 trillion
- Assets of those four banks today: $7.8 trillion
- Of the 63 former Lehman Brothers employees identified by a bankruptcy examiner as being aware of an accounting scheme Lehman used to mask its true finances, number who are employed in senior financial services positions today: 47
- Number of the 25 banks responsible for the bulk of risky subprime loans leading up to the crash that are back in the mortgage business: 25
- Chances that an American voter thinks that regulating financial products and services is “important” or “very important”: 9 in 10
- Chances that an American knows the Earth orbits the sun: 8 in 10
- Amount spent in 2012 by Wall Street and other finance industry behemoths on lobbying to roll back, water down and weasel out of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: $487 million
- Number of registered financial industry lobbyists in 2012: 2,429
- Number of lawsuits filed as of April of this year by Eugene Scalia, son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to hold up implementation of Dodd-Frank rules on legal technicalities: 7
- Rank of finance industry among all corporate election spending by sector in 2011 and 2012: 1
- Amount the industry gave to political candidates in 2011 and 2012: $664 million
- In 2012, rate at which revenues of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., matched Public Citizen’s operating expenses for the entire year: Every 80 minutes
To my friends on the right, isn’t it time to wake up to the reality that trickle-down economics is a lie? The One Percent don’t care about you, and you are extremely unlikely to ever become one of them.
Isn’t it time to join forces as average, middle class Americans to make our voices heard about getting big money and it’s corrupting influence out of politics, and to get our democracy turned back over to us ordinary citizens?
You can start by joining and supporting CoffeePartyUSA and by becoming a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act.
I am no longer a supporter of any kind of Coffee Party USA. To understand why, click here.
UPS is not alone in blaming Obamacare for recent business decisions. In the case of UPS, their decision is to drop benefits for the working spouses of 15,000 white-collar, non-union workers(1). Makes me wonder if fellow white-collar workers are paying attention to the details.
If you’re like me and you try to be a conscientious consumer who makes purchasing decisions that send a message, then here’s a list of other major corporations who are actively opposing the Affordable Care Act(2):
CKE (owner of Hardee’s)
Whom do the above (excluding Boeing and UPS) generally employ and who will be hurt the most if these large and profitable corporations cut back on benefits, reduce workers’ hours, curtail new hiring, and raise prices as their response to the Affordable Care Act?
Hint: It won’t be the senior corporate managers making these decisions, their boards of directors, or the shareholders to whom they answer.
Yes, companies need to be profitable.
Yes, investors need to make attractive returns.
Yes, retirees with 401Ks want to earn as much as they can on their investments (although if you’re a retiree and still in equities I suspect you’re either fairly wealthy and can afford the ‘gamble’ of stocks, or you’re in desperate need of better financial advice).
What we don’t need to do is make money our only measurement of success. The accumulation of wealth without regard for how it’s done should not be held in such a high regard and as one of our society’s core values.
Isn’t it ok to make just a few dollars less profit while you do right by your employees? What kind of person tells their employees that I’m going to cut your hours and blame the Affordable Care Act just so that I can make more money for myself and our shareholders by not offering you employer-subsidized healthcare?
Seriously, isn’t that just a really huge F**K YOU from the rich aimed essentially at all the rest of us ordinary people?