28 October 2010

Headline: "Halliburton knew..."

Do you really need to hear the rest? I bet you don't. Can you guess? I bet you can.

It's not surprising that an entity designed to do one thing, make money, does everything it can do to achieve that one aim. I'm not surprised when fish swim, when pitchers pitch, or when bloviating blow hards get on the radio and bloviate, hard.

What is surprising is how many Americans seem to think that these entities designed with only one goal in mind, to make money, should not be looked after, that there should be no limit to what they can do or to whom they can do it, that oversight is evil ("socialist", same thing) and that the public good isn't worth protecting.

It's not surprising, it's just staggering. Unfathomable. Irrational. Why do some Americans, who are troubled, economically insecure and making less for more productivity than at any time since the 1970's (yes, that's right - the 1970's were far better for most Americans than the 80s and 90s were) think that putting government back in the hands of those who think business does just fine on its own, thanks, is the way to go? How can that be the answer? What kind of logic - or at least thinking, since it doesn't seem to be logical - leads a person to that conclusion?

So Halliburton, about as solid an example of a poor market actor as I could find, "...knew of cement flaws before spill..." and didn't act on the knowledge. Why is the cement important? From the NY Times article:

The failure of the cement set off a complex and ultimately deadly cascade of events as oil and gas exploded upward from the 18,000-foot-deep well. The blowout preventer, which sits on the ocean floor atop the well and is supposed to contain a well bore blowout, also failed.

In an internal investigation, BP identified the faulty cement job as one of the main factors contributing to the accident and blamed Halliburton...

It reminds of that old Saturday Night Live fake commercial: "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company." Except in the 1970s it was a matter of inconvenience, not the death of workers or whole ecosystems.

Apparently, my countrywomen and men read this and think "Hey, we need less governance, less oversight, and less control over who is doing what in the public sphere. They'll do the right thing."

How did we get so short sighted, as a country? How did we get so fearful of government? How did we get so manipulated as to believe what is so demonstrably false and not in our best interests?

We got here because that's what capitalism does - it is designed to make money, and whatever it needs to do it will do to that end. This includes flaunting safety standards, yes, of course, but this also includes getting five old white Catholics (Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Roberts and Alito) to believe in the Citizens United case that companies are people, too, and can do whatever they want in elections, just like people. Well, except vote. Well, so far.

So now we have a government of the people (which now includes corporations which have no interest except to line their own pockets), by the people (and the corporations who can spend as much hidden money as they'd like in elections) and for the people (including corporations who get to benefit from lax laws or no laws since they will be gutted by Congressmen and Women they've bought and paid for).

And now we have a midterm awash in more cash than ever, as reported in the Superior, Wisconsin, Leader-Telegram, among others - no McCain Feingold, no disclosure, no limit - and that cash is directed to one purpose: electing people who will look out for business interests.

It's the lies that money is telling that seems to be tipping the scales. I don't understand how the GOP can even be in a position to take back the House since they are the ones who got us into this economic mess, but they seem to be.

Wednesday could be a bad day for American democracy, but a good day for corporations. That's also something that Halliburton knew.

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