Who really pulls the strings?
In a recent article about drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the writer expressed a naive understanding of how decisions get made in Washington. He suggested that environmentalists are “more greedy” than oil companies because they solicit $50 donations from citizens while oil companies are merely finding and providing the energy that runs our civilization. Does he know of any environmentalists who make millions or billions in profit? On the other hand, oil companies donate huge sums of money to the two parties in exchange for handouts from the government. The Republican-controlled House wanted to give the oil, coal, gas and nuclear industries a record $33 billion of taxpayers’ money to run their businesses.
Our ruling circles have created a welfare government for the super-rich. Current regulation, taxation and procurement policy overwhelmingly favors the oil, coal and nuclear industries. There is no level playing field in the energy sector. Taxpayer subsidies should go to supporting research and development for renewable municipal energy and public transportation. Our taxes should strengthen community infrastructures rather than fatten well-padded pocketbooks of energy companies.
What could be more desirable than getting our civilization off of dependence on foreign oil and all forms of fuel that will run out anyway? Instead of massively supporting research and development of renewable energy, this government moves in exactly the opposite direction in order to pay back its financial sponsors. Enron donated $900,000 to Bush’s campaign, and Cheney is being investigated for allowing the energy industry to literally write the White House’s energy policy. The heavily lobbied Senate recently defeated a measure to double fuel efficiency standards (with currently available technology) which would have saved more oil than ANWR could ever produce.
This level of corporate influence and legalized bribery is not serving our civilization. We all end up paying for it – in dollars, in the cancers and respiratory diseases caused by unnecessary pollution, and in the lives of our sons and daughters who will be sent off to defend our access to Middle Eastern oil.
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