January 05, 2011

And just outside the Capitol, the Real World

I came across this video from The Nation posted on Dmitry Orlov's site. A reminder that there are issues far more important than John Boehner's search for a superfluous $100 billion (which I understand the Republicans have now abandoned anyway - there's just nothing that can be reduced).

The always provocative Noam Chomsky brilliantly outlines the dilemma the human species faces as it awaits action from corporate America: the fiduciary duty of corporate CEO's at big oil companies, coal companies and other polluters is to maximize short-term profits for shareholders, and anything less than this result, for whatever reasons of conscience or concern that the planet is doomed if we don't change our ways, will result in the ouster of management. With the House of Representatives now overrun by climate change deniers, it's difficult to see what combination of corporate or governmental action will bring this country around to a sane adaptation, short of literally having no choice, at which point the choice may be completely illusory.

I knew that Chomsky's description reminded me of something earlier in American history, and then it struck me that what he was describing was essentially identical to the deceit and immorality of Big Tobacco. The execs at the big smoke shops all knew, to a moral certainty, that they were manufacturing death-by-the-pack, and yet for as long as possible they hid the results of their own research and deliberately lied to Congress and to the American people. For the sake of the bottom line, they killed (and continue to kill) people by the millions. So too now does upper management at Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and the rest know that anthropogenic climate change is real, yet they fund specious research to discredit legitimate climate science, hire trolls to undermine criticism of their industry, and buy off Congressmen by the busload.

It is difficult not to share the pessimism of the phlegmatic Dr. Chomsky. On the other hand, what we can't accomplish volitionally, a collapse of the U.S. may deliver to us willy-nilly. As Mom used to say, God never closes a door without opening a window somewhere.

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