Monday, November 14, 2011

The Keystone XL Pipeline and Other Injustices of the Corporatocracy

the decision as to whether the keystone xl pipeline will be constructed was to be delayed until early 2013, until after the american election. but the republicans in their infinite shadiness and greed, and the democrats in their infinite spinelessness, have passed a bill linking a two month extension of the payroll tax cut to an expedited decision on the pipeline by late february 2012.

this pipeline would carry dirty bitumen from alberta to texas to be refined there. it would greatly expand tar sands production in northern alberta, meaning increasing destruction of an already devastated wild nature in canada's boreal forest. it would mean pumping more co2, methane, and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, and more toxins into the athabasca river, poisoning those who live downstream. already the people of ft mackay and ft chipewyan have elevated levels of cancer and other illnesses because of tar sands operations.

the proponents of the pipeline, industry and the alberta and canadian governments, have two very untenable arguments in support of it. the first is claiming it will offer energy security. this is total backward thinking, because if half the money used for oil and gas exploration and extraction were used for advancing wind and solar technology for example, we could be well on our way to much safer and cleaner energy security within a few decades, if not just a few years even. and this is far more sustainable than a few decades worth, at most, of dirty, expensive bottom of the barrel, tar sands bitumen, that the new conservative premier of alberta, alison redford is so fond of. meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

the second argument used to justify the pipeline's construction is touting all the economic benefits it will bring. ah yes, the famous jobs ploy. so despite all the environmental damage that is already occurring because of the tar sands (air pollution, leaking tailings ponds, deforestation, killing of wildlife) which would increase and worsen with the new pipeline, not to mention the very real possibility of pipeline spills, this is all somehow acceptable to them because there's money and jobs involved?

funny how even though something is causing a lot of harm to people, wildlife and the environment, government and industry will always praise it so long as there is a vast amount of money to be made. but when you consider that practically all that money is funneled to the top, you realize pretty quickly that they're main concern is not for the welfare of the average laborer, or even his safety for that matter. hell, they're even trying to take away the people's right to collectively bargain. the only thing these corporate executives and their government puppets really give a damn about, is how the workers can fill their already overstuffed pockets with even more cash. this jobs argument then becomes nothing more than the deceptive blatherings of dishonest and greedy scoundrels.

this is all very typical of the canadian government's approach however. whether it's destroying the environment and first nation's livelihoods with the tar sands, or expanding an asbestos mine in quebec to export 200,000 tons of the carcinogenic chrysotile (95% of which is shipped to asia and other mostly poor countries), or clubbing baby seals to sell to the european union, which has recently banned seal products from canada, the canadian government fights tooth and nail to keep these destructive, harmful and downright barbaric practices up and running because all of them have proven to be profitable, and that's all that seems to matter to them. shameful and despicable!

as much as these folks like to praise any industry that is extremely lucrative, there is one area where the lauding is still there, but not quite so overt. that being, the business of crime. let me explain.

there is a new $569-million mega-jail being built in the edmonton region which will house over 2,000 inmates and will cover an area larger than 26 football fields (cfl size football fields i suppose). it's expected to employ over 800 people when it's completed. and with all the construction and other jobs that go along with a project of this magnitude, that's a lot of employment to be had. looks like these criminals who are making this project "necessary" are real job creators. let's applaud them for that.

(audience rises, cheers and applauds)

i guess crime does pay. look at how many people make a living off of it: jailers, judges, police, lawyers, ems workers, and all the other satellite jobs connected with those: office workers, secretaries and so on. would spokespeople from the government and the prison industrial complex like to go on the corporate controlled media and be so bold as to say that crime is a good thing and virtuous because of all the employment it produces? i seriously doubt that.

but why not? could it be because of the harm that we associate with crime? well what about the harm associated with the oil and gas industry? from toxic oil spills to flammable water, from cancer causing emissions to climate change, people are getting sick and dying from this noxious industry. but for some reason, these companies and their bribed government officials, who both stand to make huge profits from contaminating our environment, are always extolling its most blessed merits for the sake of jobs, jobs, jobs and all that yummy money it will bring in. you can just see the dollar signs sparkling in their eyes. as texas governor, and republican presidential nominee, rick perry might say..."gold is good!". yea, but at what cost?

i think the frances mcdormand character, margie, from near the end of the movie fargo, sums it up best when she rebukes one of the two men responsible for the kidnapping and murder of jerry lundegaard's wife, by saying "there's more to life than a little money, you know. don'tcha know that?" well quite frankly, i don't think they do know that. yes, jobs are important, so we can feed, clothe, house, transport and enjoy ourselves. but if our jobs are based upon the destruction of our natural world, and people and wildlife getting sick and dying, then we are one sociopathic lot. just as sociopathic as our friend from fargo, who axed his partner to death and shoved the body into a woodchipper for refusing to give him half the money for the tan sierra. literally, we are mentally ill if we believe that our jobs are more important than our environment and people's lives.

it would be utterly ridiculous to suggest that we don't try to reduce crime by addressing the conditions that often encourage such behavior, because of the large number of people who will financially benefit from crime continuing. but that seems to be precisely what we are doing. we spend billions of dollars on "fighting crime", but we do absurdly little to try and understand and eliminate its root causes, where poverty and the grossly unjust distribution of wealth, lack of education, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence in the home play no small roles.

punishing criminals is big business, and big business means big profits, and big profits mean bigwigs like to keep things the way they are. so sure, let's fight crime...but let's not delve too deeply into why people engage in criminal acts in the first place, we may just discover how to stop it, and that's bad for our current way of doing business.

if the business of this country is business, and nothing more than pandering to the corporate elites whose only purpose is maximizing their own bottom line, then genuine democratic principles, which have at their very core civil disobedient struggle, and noncompliance with illegitimate forces trying to command people's lives, will be annihilated by these mendacious oligarchs even as they profess to be upholding them in the interest of public safety and national security. they will then use all the available tools of physical and psychological control that the state has at its disposal, to forcibly silence any dissenting voices expressing fresh new ideas running counter to the prevailing doctrines of this inequitable system, and the powerless citizenry will be bludgeoned into submissive obedience.

who would not agree that our society would be much better off without everyone having to worry about, and collectively spend billions on, protecting our property or ourselves from the victims of a society that allows all the wealth to accumulate for those near the top, while the rest feed upon the scrapheap? all those who formerly found employment taking advantage of this kind of system will just have to put up with a crime free world and find other ways to make a living. perhaps we can spend more time growing our own healthy food and being satisfied with having less in this new harmonious world where crime has been eradicated.

and our approach to crime is the same as our approach to health care. here again, billions are spent on fighting sickness and disease, but yet we remain incredibly inept and largely ignorant about how to cure these things. how little we know of probably one of the most important factors in reducing health problems...proper nutrition. we eat shit and then wonder why we feel like shit.

imagine if we put all our efforts into real prevention of crime and into real prevention of illness, by educating ourselves and trying to acquire the wisdom and compassion to understand the socioeconomic issues and lifestyle choices contributing to them; by targeting the causes and not the effects. but then that would mean less people to imprison, so less people employed in the field of punishment; it would mean less people getting sick, so less people employed in the pharmaceutical industry; it would mean a disruption and complete overhaul of our present unjust and immoral private property based system which values consumerism, profit and distractive entertainment over sharing, charity and critical examination, so less control for the plutocratic dictators who are currently in command.

if an individual is kept in the dark and unaware of the machinations driving the corporatocracy toward more profit and more power, he will abide, merrily dazed, in mute servility to them, even as they strip the last can of who hash from his scrawny fingers in the name of god and country, and he will patriotically rise and sing along as they do it. but when one is bombarded by a media, culture, and society that is nothing more than an advertisement for commerce, and a salute to empire and might based largely on narrow-minded bigotry and unwarranted fear, what do you expect?

as ridiculous as it would be to suggest that we should not get to the root causes of crime and sickness and attempt to eliminate them all together, because of jobs and economic advantage, it is just as ludicrous to propose that we don't try to prevent the ecological devastation being wreaked by the oil and gas industry, and all the health problems they cause, because of the employment these companies provide.

everyone would be far better off living in a world where the air is cleaner, and the water is uncontaminated, and the land is allowed to remain in its pristine natural state, flourishing with all the plants and animals that call it home. and surely there will be jobs available as we use our brains to come up with greener alternatives in our efforts to live more sustainably with our natural world.

reducing crime, pollution, and harnessing cleaner energy sources, will not be easy. but rarely, nothing worthwhile ever is. we're not demanding a perfect world, just a better one. one where we don't have to rely upon the suffering of another in order to make a buck.

sooner or later we are all going to have to come to the realization that our business as usual attitudes are causing far too much misery and injustice on our planet to allow us to continue on such a misguided and perilous course. crime and pollution are not beneficial things. despite all the money that can be made by allowing them to persist, we are going to need to find ways to reduce them with the eventual goal of trying to eliminate them. we really don't have a choice here, unless of course we like living in fear that someone will steal or damage our stuff, or try to hurt or kill us, or we enjoy breathing poisoned air and consuming contaminated food and water. we will make the world a kinder, cleaner and more ethical place for all, but we are running out of time. so we better, in the words of jean luc picard, "make it so".

(cue closing credits theme for star trek the next generation)

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