Monday, May 12, 2008

Environment vs. jobs... a false conflict

The last resort of those who would obfuscate any issue is to use the appeal to jobs. I watched it happen time and time again. In the world of politics, the terms "jobs" makes for some very strange associations. So does the funding of non-profits.

The first event that really drove this home to me was watching the leadership of the Teamsters Union line up behind the 2006 Chairman of the House Committee on Resources, Richard Pombo, to support drilling for more oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve. You would have thought that the normally Democratic leaning unions would have been the last person to support an ultra-conservative Republican, but this was about "American jobs" though most would have been in Canada.

Now, the latest person to jump into this fray, all in the interest of the poor, of course, is Roy Innes of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). This was reported in Mother Jones.
A civil rights group that dates back to the 1940s, CORE's agenda has taken a distinct rightward tilt under Innis' leadership, aligning itself with conservative activists opposed to the environmental movement. Speaking in March at a conference of global warming skeptics sponsored by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, which has received more than $600,000 in funding from ExxonMobil since the late '90s, Innis announced that his organization, itself a recipient of Exxon funding, would sue the Bush administration if the polar bear were listed.
Innis begins to look like a Pomboid, maybe justifying his use of Exxon money because CORE does do good work. As one commenter said after the Mother Jones article...
To say that protecting the polar bear will adversely affect poor Americans skips a step.

There is a built-in assumption there that the industry lobbyists don't want us to notice: namely, that, of course, the oil companies will pass their higher costs on to the consumers, because, obviously, they can't afford to have their profits decreased even by a tiny percentage.

There is a choice here that is being hidden. Perhaps we could choose to make those profiting from oil pay for the true costs, including those to the polar bear, instead of asking the poorest Americans to do it for them.

In the mean time, Bill McKibben, writing in the Los Angeles Times this weekend warns us that this is not about jobs. It is about Civilization's Last Chance.
It's not just the economy: We've gone through swoons before. It's that gas at $4 a gallon means we're running out, at least of the cheap stuff that built our sprawling society. It's that when we try to turn corn into gas, it helps send the price of a loaf of bread shooting upward and helps ignite food riots on three continents. It's that everything is so tied together. It's that, all of a sudden, those grim Club of Rome types who, way back in the 1970s, went on and on about the "limits to growth" suddenly seem ... how best to put it, right.

All of a sudden it isn't morning in America, it's dusk on planet Earth.
We now have to face a mind-warping media blitz of political pandering to the very large bloc of coal mining voters in West Virginia and Kentucky the next two weeks. Yes, it is jobs that equal votes that equal getting elected, the future be damned.

I think that I will go read something cheerful, like Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

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