Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Corporate Greed Toxic to Commons

If the catastrophe in the Gulf isn't a clear enough example of the critical need to protect our commons from greedy, amoral, and inept private industry, I don't know what it will take to convince people.

The latest estimates are that 45,000 barrels of oil are seeping into the Gulf waters each day, and that's in spite of the latest containment attempt (a 'cap' that's only capturing at most 15,000 barrels/day). And people are outraged by the images of the unbelievable environmental impact, but if you listen to the media, you'd think that rage is only being directed at the federal government and President Obama.

There's no doubt that people are disappointed by the response by the President (71% think he hasn't been tough enough on BP). BUT if you look at recent polls, the real outrage and blame is directed at BP. In fact, 59% of Americans are so angry that they are willing to see the company go out of business if that's what it takes to pay for the damage resulting from the oil spill.

In spite of the anger and mistrust directed at BP, the privatize-at-all-costs conservatives still want the corporation to continue to be in charge of clean-up efforts. Conservatives' undying faith in corporate power and disdain for government regulation is what led to this disaster in the first place (see this timeline of how Vice-President Cheney helped cause the oil spill). That's why I was relieved that President Obama specifically went after lax regulation in his speech last night.

The disaster in the Gulf is the logical result of our failure to aggressively protect our natural commons. Trusting big business to be responsible for stewardship of the commons has left us with a level of environmental degradation in the Gulf that even the experts can't fathom.

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