Monday, August 2, 2010

Big business drills

Let me start with the mostly good news first: The House approved a bill this past Friday heightening safety standards for offshore drilling, imposing new fees on oil and gas production and removing the federal $75 million cap on economic damages to be paid by oil companies after major spills, increasing it to $300 million. It would also create new "conservation" fees on oil and natural gas extracted from land or water controlled by the federal government. Another quasi-plus: companies with significant workplace safety or environmental violations over the past 7 years would be banned from new offshore drilling permits. As usual, there was the left/right banter about killing jobs, big government, save the whales, no drilling, yada yada yada. The bill now moves on to the Senate where they'll probably sit on it till it's nice and thinned out and ready to do jack squat...pardon my cynicism. The bill is a move in the right direction, although I wonder how many more catastrophes it will take before we say to ourselves, "you know what, maybe we should just leave that the fuck alone?" History repeats itself - especially if you do the dumb shit over and over again.

On to the other news: The Senate (previously mentioned as 1/3 of our government that does fuck all for us) has blocked the Disclose Act, an act that would require corporate political advertisers to reveal their funding sources. Now, some on the right suggest that it's not just about that - it's a ploy to gain votes in November by putting more restrictions on corporate activity than on unions. Ummmm...ok.
A corporation is by definition an entity whose sole responsibility is to make money - the bottom line. Unions are by definition there to protect the rights of the worker. Now, I admit there is a gray area where unions can be assholes and corporations can be menches but overall, let's be honest here. I'd rather kick a corporation in the nuts than hang a union out to dry. But that's just me.
Furthermore, this bill wouldn't even bar corporations from making contributions, it would only require that they own up to it. Only the naive will say that our government isn't for sale, but at least we could take a first step and know who the hell is buying. But, of course, since we're not naive, we also realize that the who's who in the guilded chairs aren't gonna let any "first steps" be taken that might put their bottom line in jeopardy. I mean, what are they supposed to do, govern? Please...

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