To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Thursday, November 26, 2020

New Observercast

Will Greed Kill Us All?

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BY VERN TURNER

I’ve been away awhile trying to get my first novel published. In the meantime, the news of our president’s demise keeps rolling to its inevitable conclusion: Americans are sick of having a lunatic in the Oval Office and want him out. Now! OK. Better writers than me – who also get paid for their work – have been chronicling this implosion for three years, or so, and will continue to do so until it’s over.

One of the more interesting recent bits was the State Department’s final report on the four-year investigation into Hillary Clinton’s infamous e-mail scandal. Coming from Republicans, it reminds me of the hilarious story about Dizzy Dean, the great Cardinals pitcher who was hit in the head with a thrown ball while on second base: “They X-rayed my head and found nothing.”

So, once again, the Republicans have wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on their character assassination [for strictly political purposes] of an opponent without any results showing wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the unleashed madman of their dreams continues to urinate on the Constitution and anything else he puts his mouth to.

Even the ridiculous Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed Barack Obama for Trump’s decision to abandon our allies, the Kurds, in Syria. Houses of mirrors are easier to fathom than the Republican Party.

Moving away from the red meat, I have to comment on the book by Rachel Maddow that I’m reading, Blowout. It follows another book by Naomi Klein on the same subject, This Changes Everything. The subject is environmental destruction at the hands of the oil and gas industry.

Maddow tells the story of Chesapeake and Devon energy giants co-opting the fracking technology to help destroy the environment. Oh, and Rex Tillerson’s ExxonMobil’s latter-day entry into the natural gas bonanza added to the joy of so many Oklahoma earthquakes, so many poisoned cattle and sick children and the spikes in organ dysfunctions everywhere this “technology” was installed.

Remember the Deep Water Horizon disaster? Yup. Serial incompetence. The “best practices” technology to control that blowout? Baby diaper material writ large. Spigots of regurgitated fracking water left open to poison streams, kill wildlife and destroy wells and springs. This does not include the billions of gallons of good water used to blow gas and oil out of tight shale to enhance the profits and wealth of the stockholders who … simply don’t care.

John D. Rockefeller set the model for today’s energy giants: Lowest operating costs possible vs. highest profits attainable. Safety? Not so much. Accident prevention? What accidents? Bribery of politicians? All day, every day. Paying off lawsuits for injury, death and environmental destruction? The cost of doing business.

Just ask the great Aubrey McClendon, or George Mitchell … or Rex Tillerson. Oh, yes. Mr. McClendon spent lavishly on charities and rebuilding the infrastructure of Oklahoma City after the boom-bust cycles left gaping holes in the city. He also bought up hundreds of thousands of acres of land sitting on top of oil/gas shale for future exploitation.

With the compliant legislators at state and federal levels letting drilling/fracking/destroying leases go forth like so many falling snowflakes, the nation is now covered up with drilling rigs, fracking operations and the attendant destruction of drinking water, pasture land and air quality. Methane, you see, has this nasty habit of escaping from around seals and such “preventative” structures. It also is 20 times more insulating than carbon dioxide as a global warming/climate change contributor.

The world is so glutted with natural gas that most storage facilities have no room for more while more storage tanks are being built. Meanwhile, at oil-drilling sites, the methane gas is not saved – mostly because of the glut and because it is more expensive to try to capture it – it is simply burned off creating carbon dioxide pollution. The selling job was so excellent and the bribes so pervasive that the price of natural gas remains low.

And yet … The liquid natural gas [LNG] business continues to boom, fracking continues to impact fault zones in the crust, causing earthquakes and creating massive profits for the most of the energy industry.

Another tragic side story to this environmental rape is the rape of the citizens of small, undeveloped countries that are “blessed” with abundant oil/gas reserves. History and facts show us that these countries are prone to despotism, dictatorships and abject poverty as these dictators keep the money for themselves and almost never try to develop an economic model that actually employs people and allows them to advance out of their squalor.

Equatorial Guinea is the prime example for this sort of waste and geed expression. These despots do not  invest in their people. Do the American oil/gas companies invest in our  infrastructure and people? Sure, they do. And for each bit of charity and largesse, these companies get a nice, fat tax break … to the point where they pay almost no taxes at all.

About 100 years ago, the emerging energy sector managed to bribe enough Congress people to pass a law having to do with “depletion allowance.” This is code for corporate welfare. Thank you, John D. Rockefeller [from my home city of Cleveland – gah!] for your great contribution to our unique form of capitalism.

Asking one’s self about the logic regarding this tax scam begs a deafening silence. Why, for example, does the most profitable business community of all time  require an additional multi-billion dollar “bonus” from the taxpayer? Greed. That’s why. Unmitigated, uncontrolled, rich-boy’s club greed.

If you’ve ever wondered why there is so much disinformation about climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels and denial of decades-long scientific data proving that the burning of fossil fuels has been a direct cause of our climate warming and changing, the answer is that five-letter word that explains why our current model of life cannot long endure.

When we can’t drink the water, grow healthy food, or breathe healthy air, the sustenance of life is removed. Guess what happens to the almost eight billion humans when we cross that Rubicon? Will we still be checking the quarterly reports of the energy giants that caused this disaster?

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Vern Turner
Vern Turner
Denver resident Vern Turner is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Why Angels Weep: America and Donald Trump, is available through Amazon.