For so many of us, the worst part of the BP oil spill has been this feeling of total helplessness. No one seems to be able to stop the spill, not even President Obama. And the oil just keeps coming. In the meantime we hold our rallies and candlelight vigils around the country because we don’t know what else to do and want to do something and the oil just keeps coming. We watch our TVs and are bombarded with the constant images of “new” caps gushing oil from underneath a “new” seal, birds dying on the shore and the arrogance of companies doing without thinking of the consequences all in the name of profit and to feed our addiction. Outrage and helpless anger. And the oil just keeps on coming.
Yesterday I took a long walk on Linda Mar beach, the Pacific stretching out to the very edge of the world. The water was fairly clean and surfers were taking advantage of the modest waves. 3000 miles away, the sea is heavy with crude and birds stare blankly hoping to be freed by the stewards of the planet, us. Disaster seems a weak word. What has happened to us? Why is dangerous exploration so very necessary to feed our addiction? Is it worth it? Why have we out-sourced our basic needs elsewhere? Where are the uniquely American companies providing solutions to the clean up? Look around. They’re not there. We seem to be relying on the very foreign companies that provided us with this latest obscenity for the clean up. This is nothing new and it’s been happening for years. We used to be so proud of our home grown manufacturing. It was the best. It has gone overseas as well. To bring this home a bit I use live “help” desks as a symptom. Like others, when I call about our mortgage I talk to someone in Bangladore, India. Why is that? Money, plain and simple, the bottom line of most corporations cost-cutting is at the expense of American jobs. Patriotism has given way to shareholders dividend pay outs and quarterly profits. There’s got to be a better way. Once again, the “free” market is not free.
It may sound like I am blaming the horrendous Gulf spill on outsourcing and perhaps I am. I don’t think I am far off. Does a foreign oil company really care what happens on American beaches because of perceived negligence and human mistakes especially when there is a “cap” on liability? I want to believe they do and I suppose we’ll see. But some of the comments made by execs of this foreign company leaves one scratching one’s head. They seem insensitive and crass. Without sounding too xenophobic don’t you think enough is enough? Talk about “taking our country back!” When Sam Walton took over his first Ben Franklin’s and eventually started his landmark Wal-Mart he prided himself and us with the slogan “Buy American.” Now, of course, when one goes to a Wal-Mart discount store one would be hard pressed to find anything to buy that is remotely made in America. Should that change? Would American’s spend a little bit more to buy something that was made in the States and know that the dollar they spend is a dollar that stays in this country and the community? I guess that is a discussion that keeps on going. One thing is for sure, though we have gone from Patron Nation to a Debtor Nation in 30 years. But I digress…
So what can we do about the heartbreak in the Gulf? Demand that BP, Trans Ocean and Halliburton take their dividends and turn them back into the clean up and compensation for the small business owners who, for all practical purposes are out of business. That, Mr. Beck, is social justice. In the meantime maybe we can do the following:
- Demand real solutions from Washington, including a plan to end our addiction to oil by transitioning to clean energy.
- Show the people of the Gulf region that we’re behind them in this terrible time.
- Help raise money to meet the needs of the immediate crisis.
One other thing we can do is urge the government to establish a WPA type of cleanup response to the fouling of the shores of the Gulf states. This may be when big government has a significant role. Write the White House and suggest it. Of course the polluters will pick up the tab. Meanwhile the oil just keeps on coming.