In a word?
I’m not talking about environmental climate change, I’m talking about the political climate, the deregulation climate, the climate that continues to sweep through this country and threatens you, the American citizen at your door with not a polite knock, it’s more akin to home invasion, battering rams that splinter the wood with its force until the whole thing smashes in and stares greedily at your family.
But first, the back-story:
When the financial system broke down in 2008 as a result of companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers playing fast and loose for ten years with their newly deregulated financial systems, allowing them to leverage their own companies to the point of collapse in pursuit of short-term profits, they knew they had an ace in the hole. Deregulation had allowed them to grow to sizes unseen since the Great Depression so if they were to fail, they would take the interconnected global economies with them. They knew this and when the house of cards came down, they received the TARP bailouts from GW Bush so essentially, while making billions in profit at the expense of pension funds and house mortgage owners, they then received billions more in rescue money from the government to keep themselves solvent, and that money from the government? That was your money, and the money to the executives that created this mess so quickly gained in those several years of exorbitant short-term profit? They kept it, and nobody went to jail for the fraud they played on our country because their co-workers filled the President’s cabinet, the New York Reserve, the treasury and the SEC.
Large business everywhere watched this charade play out. They bore witness to what these companies got away with and realized yet again that any fines levied for the companies’ inappropriate behavior amounted to little more than a parking ticket for you or me.
Corporate responsibility was at little to none.
At the same time the financial mess was being created, the Mineral and Management Service, the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing oil companies was rubber stamping deep-sea oil well permits and doing blow with corporate heads while ignoring the fact that neither the states, the MMS or the companies themselves had a plan in case something should go wrong on one of the oil rigs. Nobody had a plan to seal the well or clean up the mess.
And few, if any said a word about this.
And then April 20th happened.
The Oil Spill…the great catatsraphuk that is British Petroleum’s Gulf Coast Disaster played and plays out across four states. Millions of barrels of oil, methane and chemical dispersants were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico, leading to dead people, dead dolphins, wasted fisheries, destroyed oyster beds, destroyed cultures, businesses and families and ten months later we have increasing illness, we have tar balls left on beaches while BP closes shop on its cleanup. British Petroleum claims the GCCF and Feinberg’s payments are too high, too much when everyone in the region knows they aren’t enough, not nearly enough. Mental health issues continue their escalation on those both direct and indirectly impacted, court cases are filed, reporters write, British Petroleum reneges on its commitments to Louisiana and the rehabilitation of their oyster beds. Politicians in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama are seething, screaming at Obama to do something about the businesses and people who are being abandoned, essentially asking Obama to be a President.
And in his State of the Union address, the President doesn’t even mention the Gulf Coast.
And in the state of the Gulf Coast – Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are being forgotten.
British Petroleum is reneging on their commitments to the environment and to the people, while Ken Feinberg is low-balling claimants straight to insolvency. And for Gulf Coast residents? No bailouts from the government. Most people receiving any compensation from the Gulf Coast fund are forced to waive their rights against seeking any more money from over a hundred companies regardless of an unknown future. Sicknesses as a result of the spill? No. Environment doesn’t bounce back by 2013? No. Oil continuing to come ashore? No. And these hundred companies still operate and still make money both on and off their shores.
And British Petroleum is not fulfilling their corporate responsibilities to the people.
Because they don’t have to, climate dictates.
Meanwhile nationwide, like a financially desperate Gulf Coast, the other 46 states continue to suffer through a recession that while it may be recovering in the sense that profits are again going up for the same banks and investment firms that created the mess in 2008, the people who lost their jobs as a result are still unemployed, and the federal government and the states are still experiencing a continuing recession that is forcing cutbacks on their state and federal budgets.
This recession, caused by corporate irresponsibility, was made possible by current climate conditions and it is these cutbacks that have led to the protests in Wisconsin. Governor Walker has declared that in order for him to close the budget gap, he has no choice but to end collective bargaining rights for state unions.
He says the state of Wisconsin is broke and has no choice.
Two weeks ago, John Boenher, Speaker of the House said the same thing about the federal government, “We’re broke. It’s time for us to get serious about how we’re spending the nation’s money.”
And hundreds of companies like British Petroleum, walk away, without paying whatever is necessary for them to “make things right,” in the disasters of their own creation. In fact, in many instances, corporations like Bank of America and General Electric actually received tax benefits and paid nothing. Nationally, and in the states, the Republicans and oftentimes the Democrats want to take the money from us.
Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood: healthcare for the poor. Obama wants to defund energy assistance. Republicans want to prohibit unions for federal employees. They want to defund investigations of the fiscal crisis and enforcement of new regulations on the banking and investment industry. Both sides want to cut education, reducing grants and rasing tuitions. Republicans want to defund the EPA and the NOAA. They want to cut money to public transit. They want to cut money for social services, addiction treatment, housing programs. They want to end community development grants, used primarily in poor neighborhoods.
Have to, we’re all broke, didn’t you hear?
It’s a budget crisis.
Republicans and Democrats nationwide also often agree the people who will pay for this crisis are the people who had no part of its cause and were typically its victims, while the people whose criminal activity led to these budget deficits? They will continue to receive their tax breaks, their bonuses, the lifestyles they have grown so accustomed too.
Personal responsibility and shared sacrifice is the watchword from Democrats and Republicans.
Corporate responsibility garners nary a mention.
It’s the climate.
So, while the people nationwide are forced to accept austerity cuts, while politicians are attempting to destroy state and federal unions and while the people of the Gulf Coast continue to watch their livelihoods, culture and families stagnate in limbo…corporate profiteers are back in business. British Petroleum begins issuing dividends to stockholders and reporting profits. The large multinational banks and investment firms continue to issue bonuses and Wisconsin unions are asked to give up their rights
Barack Obama continues to say little to nothing.
While the people?
They continue to suffer. The Gulf Coast resident, the union member, the middle class and the poor are dictated pain and sacrifice and forced to take it while the government and the corporations go on their merry way, married by a climate of profit and deregulation, at your expense.
And this is wrong.
This is Un-American.
This is not a shared sacrifice, the average American citizen is a sacrificial lamb and it must end.
So, what do the union protesters in Wisconsin, in day 14 of their fight against their governor have to do with the Gulf Coasts struggles against British Petroleum, Ken Feinberg and an out of earshot Federal Government?
The fights are the same.
It’s the average person of this country trying to fight against a political and corporate power structure that cares very little for their individual lives and more for their personal bank accounts, their profit margin and their market share.
The fight in Wisconsin is the Gulf Coast’s fight and the Gulf Coast’s fight is Wisconsin’s.
It’s the fight of all of us, for all of us to change this climate and unify the nation against the very people whose attention to profit creates the economic suffering of the many, and against the politicians who continue to let it happen.
We have to, because in the current climate, the oil spills of financial ruin will continue to occur nationwide.
Have a nice day.