[Been a bit behind on the blogging. Catching up this weekend, starting with the first three installments of the “Gusher In the Gulf” series of Money Jungle columns written in recent weeks.]
Like all of you, this writer has watched events unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico for the past eight weeks with trepidation, to put it lightly. It is no accident that I have avoided public comment on the situation, across multiple media platforms, but serious talk has been going on across Internets—all of the Internets. It is yet another case where people would be generally alienated from the relevant facts, if they were entirely dependent on “traditional” media. I use quotes there because journalistic “tradition” once entailed doing your damn job and not deferring to personal interest.
But that was a long time ago, in glory days unlikely to return. It’s a new world, and despite our nation’s desperate clinging to the rudiments of 20th century political concepts, the world bypassed America years ago. Are we still Indispensable? Depends who you ask, and there are a lot of fishermen, and their families, who feel anything but indispensable lately. In fact, more and more people are starting to feel like they’ve been singled out for a special kind of suffering that the population at large has only lightly tasted. But more is coming, and we all need to know that.
This debacle functions on multiple levels, listed in no particular order: 1) As an ongoing environmental catastrophe, the full scope of which remains unknown; 2) It will destroy many careers associated with business in the region, cascading into realms not even considered relevant to the subject; 3) As the straw that breaks the backs of many Americans, busting up families and sending unknown numbers of our fellow citizens into early graves, while adding to the present climate of political instability; 4) As an overall humiliation for our entire US political system—neither a first, not a last.
Last, in this case, is certainly not least. Amidst all the other crises and crackups the current situation gets compared to—Katrina, 9/11, Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez—the most immediate is really the collapse of the US economy, formalized on Sept. 29, 2008. The antecedents of both went back many years, building to cataclysm in election years, and neither had to happen. The only reason that either of those tragedies happened is because the American people are gullible and corrupt. Blame the politicians all we want, blame the policies—we voted for them, and we endorse these policies every day with our own consumer dollars. We paid BP to destroy the Gulf.
I should point out that, despite the strong suggestions from President Obama and various officials of the affected states (led by Bobby Jindal and Bill McCollum), there is nothing compelling BP so far to take on more liability than they have, and no means to make them short of dropping the proverbial hammer. Our “leaders” appear almost scared of these guys, and maybe they should be. After all, they are complicit in all this. The true costs of our oil dependence, and its alternatives, have been concealed as blatantly as BP has lied about everything related to the Deepwater Horizon.
At its core, this Gusher In the Gulf is the most explicit representation yet of the lethal bargain humanity has made with itself. Our dependence on fossil fuels to power most of our civilization means death for this world, on a level beyond anything most of us have ever imagined. The blood of 20 people could fit in just one of those barrels now spilling out of a severed artery on the ocean floor. The ancients of South America called it “the blood of the Earth”, and for such insights their ancestors were exterminated. Their calendars, primitive yet futuristic at once, predicted catastrophe, and so it’s been. “Blood For Oil” means more now than ever before.
2012 isn’t far off now, and this year we finish electing the leaders who will be in office whenever whatever happens. Such as? Well, there’s the possibility that the leak is never plugged, and the oil destroys the Gulf and leeches out into the Atlantic, eventually doing the same to the east coast. Eventually it will contaminate freshwater supplies and exterminate the region’s multibillion-dollar seafood business. Subsequent failed attempts to plug the leak could make it worse, acclerating the process. And hurricane season brings a whole new set of challenges, but that’s another story.
The spill poses an imminent or potential threat to Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and, oh yeah, Haiti. Three of those countries were already in full-on crisis beforehand, and at least four were already hostile toward the US, and for good reason. Many of them offered help and were refused. And now, our corrupt, incompetent government may ruin their primary protein source, paralyzing core industries over a wide swath potentially reaching as far down as Brazil. This will centralize their hatred of America, and poison hemispheric relations for years to come—literally.
firstname.lastname@example.org; June 1, 2010