Apocalypse Now?

Ketchup Is A Vegetable has not updated for quite some time. I could excuse this to travel plans; I was on travel the first week of May, while PB is on travel this week, and we all know how travel takes it out of a person and causes said person to lose contact with current events and such.

But I’ve also not blogged because I’m a bit too horrified at what I fear—irrationally or otherwise—that these Untied States of America might be approaching some horrific, slow-mo apocalypse that is what should be renamed the Oil Geyser (because our media can’t seem to get it into its head that this is NOT a “spill”) in the Gulf Coast region, and it concerns me that I see few media outlets seriously discussing what its effects might actually be.

Here’s what they’re reporting this morning:

Oil from a blown-out well is forming huge underwater plumes below a visible slick in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists said as BP wrestled for a third day Sunday with its latest contraption for slowing the nearly month-old gusher. One of the plumes is “as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots,” the New York Times reported. “The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.”

And yet, BP has the gall and, apparently, the gusto, to block neutral scientists from examining the site.

What confounds me is that I still don’t feel that many Americans are yet connecting the dots. I still see the occasional youngster reading the pornography known as the “Ayn Rand novel” with a self-satisfied grin. We still live in a culture that 30 years ago swallowed the hook whole and rubbed its tummy approvingly when Ron Raygun offered his famous line about someone from the government offering help being absolutely terrifying. I do not see enough people actually connecting the dots between a culture that has purposely frowned on government intervention for 30 years and the sad state of affairs we’ve seen of late.

In 1906, a man named Upton Sinclair wrote a novel called “The Jungle.” Sinclair meant the book to expose the plight of the working class, but alas, most Americans took to its discussion of unsafe practices in handling meat. Those revelations were confirmed by federal government inspectors and were so egregious that eventually the industry itself lobbied Uncle Sam to form the USDA in order for it to regain the public trust. Sinclair was appalled.

“I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach,” he is quoted as saying.

Regardless of Sinclair’s perspective, the fact is that his reporting, conducted now 104 years ago, led to the notion that the federal government has a responsibility to protect the American people from industry, which, when left to its own devices, cuts corners in the pursuit of a fatter bottom line.

And yet, with 104 years between us and “The Jungle,” we’re still having this debate. It is astounding.

This is one of the most influential truths on my politics. When I was growing up, I had a great-grandfather who was deaf as long as I knew him. Two big fat hearing aids and he still couldn’t understand a thing you said to him. I always assumed this was simply because he was old. But that wasn’t it. My great-grandfather was deaf because he’d had a career in the smelters of Pittsburgh, and because there was no OSHA* to make his employers provide him with acceptable hearing protection. Or with, say, adequate safety railing. Or with a break-room where he could go to eat his lunch.

Where I work, our guys are ringing the bell about the “new sheriff in town” at OSHA, which is under the Obama administration stepping up inspections and enforcement. But they always frame the issue with an adversarial bent. Watch out, OSHA’s coming. How about we instead laud the agency for standing up to actually do its job for a change and reflect on how a greater awareness of safety might actually benefit our industry?

We’ve seen it time and time again as of late, in the form of economic collapse, mine disasters, e. coli breakouts, bridges falling out of the sky, and now this. This contemporary idealogical regime that demonizes government intervention, which has radically upped the ante with the T Party**, has still seen hardly a peep of backlash despite overwhelming evidence that, sometimes, it is in the public’s best interest for the government to provide oversight. In fact, we’ve just had a Supreme Court decision that has for all intents and purposes codified the sentiment.

The agency that doles out offshore drilling permits is the same agency that a few years back reportedly had its employees engaging in sexual intercourse with people in the industry and snorting smack with them off of toaster ovens (I am not making this up). This is how seriously regulation and enforcement were taken in the good old days of Chimpy McCokespoon, an executive administration that was run by an oil guy and another oil guy. And now we have the Oil Geyser.

It could be said of course that, hey, your guy’s in charge now, so you can’t blame the Busch. But blaming this guy or that guy, that’s not the point I’m making here. Hell, if I’m blaming anyone, I’m blaming Ronald Raygun, who was inarguably the most effective catalyst in bringing forth this culture that demonizes government regulation at every level. Obama is starting to wake up to it; starting to speak out against it, but only mostly in response to this ridiculous T Party**. But, sadly, his political stance in this political environment prevents him from attacking the Big Problem, industry’s 30-year street-level war on sensible government regulation and enforcement.

As I indicated, I am horrified at the Oil Geyser and what it might mean for these Untied States of America, and that we are not having a serious discussion about the possible consequences. This is the kind of event that can derail economic recoveries. It is the kind of event that is likely to destroy hundreds, maybe thousands of miles of coral reef. It is unlikely to only affect the Gulf; it is likely at this rate that the goo will make its way around America’s Dong and will cause problems up and down the east coast. Our fishing industry is screwed, are you looking forward to a $12 Filet-O-Fish? How many other industries will be tanked by this, and just wait to see what this does to the price of gasoline this summer.

And nobody is discussing this.

It is, as Chazz of Blades of Glory would say, mind-bottling.

*OSHA was brought into existence on December 29, 1970.

** Mr. Bonk refuses to any longer acknowledge these folks as the “Tea Party” because it is about as relevant to the events of December 1773 as “Reno 911” is to law enforcement.

2 thoughts on “Apocalypse Now?”

  1. Hey Brady,
    Even if it’s “Apocalypse Eventually” it’s still a catastrophuque of unprecedented proportion, an event that could produce the kind of undeniable calamity that gives president Obama the leverage he needs to make historic and dramatic changes in the way America does shit… and I mean “shit.”

    I don’t see the harm our ignorant electorate has wrought on the world— and seems hell-bent on continuing— being stopped any other way.

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