One of the core components of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was the notion that all men are created equal. Lincoln went on to say how ‘this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth’. Those words are interesting to reflect on 150 years after they were originally spoken. To me, they say that a government made up of a people who are as reflective and diverse as society itself, will enable humanity to thrive. I believe those words to be true, but sadly I also believe that we do not have that type of government today.
Today it seems that we are a government of puppets, by the lobbyists, for the corporations. This is not to say that there are not good people in politics, my blog has even highlighted a few of them who are working to do good. But the system as a whole seems to be very broken and there are countless examples to illustrate this, here are two recent ones that come to mind. Last week the Michigan Governor signed in to law (without any opportunity for public debate or comment) Michigan House Bill 5606 with some last minute additions put in place by Senator Joe Hune that make it not only illegal for Tesla to sell to Michigan consumers but also prohibits Tesla from opening a showroom to provide Michigan consumers information about their products. All the while Senator Hune has the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association as one of his top financial contributors. As you likely recall, the government has stepped in and helped the Big 3 automakers on numerous occasions. In fact, the government reported that it lost $11.2 Billion on the GM bailout, meanwhile Tesla repaid it’s Department of Energy loan nine years early. Putting restrictions on Tesla does not have consumers best interests at heart as the Michigan government who says it is trying to protect consumers from getting “hoodwinked” indicates. Like in other states, this will eventually get repealed but it is downright silly that a company has to take legal action in order to sell a legal product to consumers.
Another recent example is worthy of some historical information first. In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress which essentially set standards for drinking water quality. The law had amendments in 1986 and 1996 to expand the protections of additional water sources. In 2005, the “Halliburton Loophole” as it was nicknamed (Dick Cheney former Halliburton CEO and former Vice President), was passed which exempted fracking companies from the SDWA and went further to exempt them from needing to pull permits for the use of any hydraulic fracturing agent not called “diesel”. In short, oil companies were given the green light to use cost effective fracking agents with no regard for human health as long as they changed the name. That is exactly what is happening today as oil companies routinely and legally use fluid additives of benzene and other chemicals in fracking operations. According to the American Cancer Society Benzene is well known to cause cancers like leukemia and other blood cancers in humans. In 1992 a train hauling Benzene derailed when I was in college which sent me, my girlfriend (now wife), and tens of thousands of others fleeing the cities neighboring the spill at the governments direction. Now, apparently injecting in to the ground directly underneath millions of residents is perfectly okay. In August, Governor Jerry Brown of California who had previously been a strong advocate for the environment, signed SB4 into law which allowed for the dramatic expansion of fracking in California and exempts the fracking from review under the California Environmental Quality Act, which is the state’s bedrock environmental law. Brown later back-peddled and acted confused about what the legislation he passed does, but the $2.5 Million received from the gas and oil industry interests seem to make reality pretty clear. Two weeks ago the EPA and California regulators needed to shut down 9 fracking wastewater injection wells after confirming that aquifers (protected by the SDWA) were getting contaminated. So now, a state that has one of the most epic’s droughts in history has to deal with 3 billion gallons of “wastewater” that tested positive for chemicals like arsenic and thallium churning in its dwindling aquifers thanks to fracking and insufficient environmental oversight.
The million dollar question here might be; how can we as a people get campaign and political reform related to monetary contributions when the very people needed to pass laws changing the political system are the ones that would detriment?
Perhaps a variation on the Cree Prophecy says it best; When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will
you some politicians discover you they cannot eat money.