When corporations rule

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"When corporations rule"

The fatal disasters at the Upper Big Branch Mine and Deepwater Horizon are fresh evidence the Bush-Cheney corporate culture continues in some federal agencies charged with overseeing industry. President Obama needs to change that culture fast.  Bill Becker, a regular CP contributor and Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP), explains what Obama needs to do.

Formal investigations are underway, but it appears that lax  federal oversight and enforcement, combined with corporate corner-cutting and greed, are implicated in both of the energy industry tragedies — the worst coal mine disaster in 40 years and the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Massey Energy’s mine and British Petroleum’s drilling ship in the Gulf were subject to federal oversight. In both cases, oversight failed.

Some barriers to federal oversight are systemic. Congressional hearings after the Massey disaster, for example, found that mining companies often abuse the appeals process when federal inspectors find safety violations. About 16,000  violations currently are being appealed, representing $195 million in unpaid fines. It takes more than a year to resolve an appeal these days.

Other barriers are cultural, the result of an Administration’s philosophy about overseeing powerful industries. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, corporate lobbyists for the fossil energy industry were appointed to key government policy and regulatory jobs. The most infamous was Philip Cooney, the former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute who used his position in the White House to censor and water down the conclusions of research by federal climate scientists.  After a whistleblower revealed Cooney’s misdeeds to the New York Times, Cooney resigned and went to work for ExxonMobil.

To illustrate how much the Bush Administration was in bed with oil companies, however, nothing topped the scandal in the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, the same agency accused now of insufficient oversight in the Gulf oil spill. As the New York Times reported in September 2008:

As Congress prepares to debate expansion of drilling in taxpayer-owned coastal waters, the Interior Department agency that collects oil and gas royalties has been caught up in a wide-ranging ethics scandal “” including allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct. In three reports delivered to Congress on Wednesday, the department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, found wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service, which collects about $10 billion in royalties annually and is one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes. “A culture of ethical failure” pervades the agency, Mr. Devaney wrote in a cover memo. The reports portray a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch.

After he was appointed, Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made clean-up of this scandal one of his first priorities.  But the roots of the Bush legacy apparently reach deep – a legacy in which regulatory agencies serve the corporations they’re supposed to regulate rather than the public interest.

Whatever the outcome of the Gulf oil release – and it’s certain to be devastating – President Obama should take forceful action to put the federal government’s oversight functions back on track. Some suggestions:

  • Obama should direct the Inspectors General of all agencies charged with overseeing environmental regulations and worker safety to investigate how those responsibilities are being performed. In cases where recent IG investigations already have found enforcement deficiencies, the White House should review whether the deficiencies have been corrected.
  • The President should use the power of the purse to enforce the principle that America’s natural resources – its oceans, public lands and fresh water, to name a few – are “trust assets”. In other words, they are owned by present and future generations, and public officials have a fiduciary responsibility to protect them. Obama should order agencies whose functions directly or indirectly affect the nation’s natural resources to codify that policy in job descriptions, performance standards and appraisals, and in decisions about bonuses and promotions.
  • The President should direct the Attorney General to aggressively enforce this principle through the courts, seeking injunctive relief and penalties against companies who violate our environmental laws. Anything less is a failure to perform the responsibility Congress has delegated to the Executive Branch to protect America’s natural assets and environmental quality.

This is not tree-hugging. It’s  about restoring balance between corporate interests with the public interest, and balancing resource exploitation with resource protection. The Gulf disaster is a tragic reminder of how important natural systems are to our economy, not to mention our physical health. Many of those systems are under profound stress.  Many of the public health and safety problems prevalent today – from devastating floods to childhood asthma – are a result of environmental degradation.

I don’t mean here to impugn the integrity of federal employees generally. Most work hard every day to carry out their jobs. I was proud to be one of them for 17 years. Nor do I meant to imply that companies don’t have a moral responsibility to govern their own behavior, with or without a regulatory whip. They do.

But it seems clear that remnants remain of the Bush Administration’s corporate culture, perhaps including some political appointees who “burrowed in” to the civil service before Bush left office. Whatever the reasons – and President Obama needs to dig deep within his Administration to find them out – the federal government appears to be complicit in the deaths of 40 energy industry workers lately and in ruining the economy and ecosystem of an entire region.

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23 Responses to When corporations rule

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great post, very informative. I did not know about that MMS scandal, so thank you for that. But is Obama going to enact any of these policies?

  2. Yogi -One says:

    Obama inherited a number of catastrophes-in-waiting from the Bushies, and we are seeing them manifest. The theme of Big Government as a henchman for Big Corporate was the main theme during Bush/Cheney. In fact I think it was the guiding principle of everything they did while in office.

    Too long to make the full case here, but the main point is that regulatory breakdown is the thread that ties together the financial breakdown and the environmental disasters. Regulators acting as henchmen for Wall Street led to the financial breakdown just the same as regulators-as-henchmen for Big Coal and Big Oil led to the environmental disasters.

    I use the word “henchmen” because of it’s connotations. A “henchman” is a concept usually referred to in the context of organized crime. A henchman is somebody who does the dirty work for the crime boss. That is exactly the dynamic I see in the Coal, Oil, and Financial industries.

    Asking Obama to fix all this is a double-edged sword. He rose to the Presidency inside this political system, by his own shrewd deals-with-the-devils.

    Whereas the public is demanding change, and therefore, Obama was ‘branded up’ by corporate America under the slogans “Hope” and “Change”, one of the reasons he was not eliminated from the field of candidates early on (like, say, John Edwards or Dennis Kucinich) is that he was able to appear to corporate America that he was basically a conservative. Whereas the public was demanding rapid change, he seemed a safe bet that he would not enact too much change too rapidly, and that he would not make changes without at first engaging in his well-established tactic of bargaining with the foxes before entering the henhouse.

    Unfortunately, that’s still true today.

    What strikes me as futile about the posts like this one (although I agree with the premise and it is well-written) is the idea that Obama wants to reform corporate/political America.

    I am not sure that he does. If he does, he has moved slowly, and only after polling shows he’ll take a brutal beating at election time if he doesn’t. Even after the Gulf Spill, Obama still preferred the method of buddying up with BP to solve the crisis. Of course this has been blowing up in his face big-time, forcing his administration, like BP itself, into damage-control mode, that is, trying to convince the public that they cared after the fact.

    Obama’s strengths may prove also to be his weakness. The very ability do make deals with the devils that awarded him the Presidency may be his undoing. The very skill of speech-making, in which he captures the public heart by saying exactly the things they want to hear, may be a source of problems, as it becomes increasingly obvious to the public that his actions lag far, far behind his populist sloganeering.

    After four years of perpetrating lies onto the public, George Bush was in serious trouble. By six years, the public had given up on him, and after eight years he had done grave damage to his own reputation, and severely damaged and fractured the GOP as well.

    Obama needs to take heed, and realize that if his actions fail to match his pretty speechifying, by four years he could be well on the way to losing his cred with the American people, which would weaken his party, and with it, any chances of the real level of reform that he speechifies about all the time.

    It may turn out for Obama, as for Bush, that the voters really are not as stupid as his team of political strategists seem to believe. The political strategists seem to visualize the voting public as a big herd of prigs they can push this way or that with a big corporate branding campaign.

    What if they are wrong about that? Obama needs to think about this.

  3. Leif says:

    Both Capitalism and by extension Corporations must be charged with respect for earth’s life support systems and humanities long term survivability/sustainability first and foremost and the privilege to pursue profits secondary. This axiom needs to be codified into the law of the world. It is becoming obvious that humanity cannot survive with these two powerful human created entities at odds to humanity and a livable Earth’s very existence.

    With Capitalism and Corporations, mankind has created “Robots” with a license to kill. So it has become a battle of kill or be killed. The problem with that is humanity will need the corporation of both to have even a chance of extricating ourselves from our current makings of self destruction. Conversely, Capitalism and Corporations both need to realize that there is no future for them in a dead world without humanity.

    Where are you Supreme Court when we need you?

    Where is the Revolutionary spirit when we need it the most?

    Where is the wisdom of the world Religions with the very existence of humanity at stake?

    Where is GOD in any of his/her/its manifestations?

    Where is reason?

    Where is HOPE?

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    Thanks and A Few Thoughts

    First, thanks to Bill Becker for this helpful and wise post. Bravo!

    Second, many members of the public, I think, are interested in good decisions, straightforwardness, and effectiveness. Again: Effectiveness. Many people don’t know who to “trust” — big companies, markets, government (in the general sense), particular real-world governments, or whatever? So, they want good decisions and effectiveness, now. Provide good decisions and effectiveness, and you’ll gradually get their trust. Provide murky decisions and ineffectiveness, and you’ll lose trust fast. Period.

    Third, there are some major misunderstandings (among much of the public) that influence all this. It seems that many people think that it has been proven, or widely shown, that entirely free markets, in the absence of any regulation whatsoever, will do magic, cure all ills, pull rabbits from hats, bless us, and kiss us goodnight each night. There is an immense misunderstanding of what Adam Smith said, what he said well, what he didn’t at all establish, what he meant, what it all means, and so forth. In my experience, most of the people who think that he proved certain things haven’t even read “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”. Many people don’t understand what he actually wrote, what he meant by what he wrote, what he “proved” (or at least argued well), and what he didn’t even pretend to prove or assert. If you read The Wealth Of Nations (using the abbreviated title) you’ll see that Adam Smith raises concerns about what we now call “large corporations” a good number of times, and he also mentions the needs for government/public regulation or involvement or correction more than once. Most people haven’t read the book, and most of those people seem to entirely misunderstand it.

    (A deep concern of mine is that more professional economists haven’t explained this, and clarified the misunderstanding, to the public.)

    Also, on a related note, modern economics understands (but doesn’t explain it enough, to the public!) that an unregulated free marketplace cannot be expected or “trusted” to lead to outcomes that consider all relevant factors, in balance and responsibly, if some of those factors are not reflected in costs, prices, or volumes. In other words, if it’s free to put CO2 into the atmosphere, you simply can’t expect an unregulated free marketplace to give due weight to the CO2 emissions problem. Period. To argue that we should “let the unregulated free marketplace handle it” (the GHG problem) and at the same time argue against a mechanism that would result in a “price for Carbon” is to be inconsistent and to misunderstand (in damaging ways) basic market dynamics and economics.

    Also, a few other things demand reform at this point, “or else”.

    First, the responsibilities of corporate Board members to “the larger picture” must be reformed, period. I’ve corresponded and talked to experts who are deeply concerned about the problems on this front. The present state is unsustainable, harmful in many ways, and unethical in some ways as well.

    Second, of course, we need to get corporate money out of politics. Indeed, we need to find ways to substantially reduce (if not eliminate, although that would be ideal) the immense influence of money on the election process, on government decision-making, on the news media, and on education. Allowing commercial for-profit interests to influence, through their spending, politics, government decision-making, the news, and the educational process amounts to selling our minds, souls, and hearts. We won’t get very far in solving our largest problems unless we solve those problems. Just think about it.

    Third, we should realize the folly of doing stuff that “could go wrong” when we don’t have the abilities to fix them if they do go wrong. To drill 5,000 feet deep in the ocean, when we can’t even get a person down there and when we know we will be floundering around to try to ineffectively fix things if they go wrong, is just basic foolishness.

    Fourth, we need to realize that companies are legal organizations of people, and they are NOT people themselves. People who work for companies have their own rights as people, and people who own shares in companies have their own rights as individuals, but it is both foolish and unnecessary and redundant to think of companies AS people and, based on that, to give companies (as legal entities) all of the same sorts of rights as real people have.

    I’ve written this quickly, so I apologize for any typos or etc. Also, I’m sure that I’ve probably forgotten something big. But, I’ve tried to lay out some things that I think are essential — not just nice, but essential — if we are to ultimately arrive at a healthy, informed, just, and sustainable democracy. We do not have a healthy, well informed, just, and sustainable democracy now. That much should be quite clear. As Shakespeare wrote, “All is not well in Denmark” (Hamlet), or something like that, I don’t have my copy in front of me just now.

    (Thanks for the great post, Bill. These are all important issues.)

    Be Well,

    Jeff

    Harvard Business School, Class of 1986, Baker Scholar
    McKinsey & Company, 1986-1990
    Concerned citizen and parent

  5. Edie Frederick says:

    Thank you Joe Romm– Can you point out a link to some information on shareholder ownership of key
    corporations — starting with BP? And in the case of B2B corporations, their key customers?

  6. David Smith says:

    I think the concept of lax federal oversight completely misrepresents the situation at hand. The history of the federal government in bed with the oil industry goes back into the 1800s. Lax implies some random level of incompetence as if parties involved were really bad at their jobs. This situation involves aggressive manipulation of laws in favor of a powerful interest and when unfavorable laws are passed the calculated dissregard of same. Dont we have public employees and even elected officials aiding big energy interests in actually breaking federal laws? Under US law I believe that if I aide a criminal in te commission of a crime, then I also can be prosecuted.

    If there were communications, say, between a senator and an oil executive (and its hard to imagine that there havent been) Dont worry about that environmental law, it doesnt apply to you, isnt that in itself a crime?

  7. David Smith says:

    Heres an idea – large numbers of people in a group should go out into the Gulf in boats, with the press to document the proceedings,each bringing along a gallon of their favorite toxic brew. Dump it in the ocean. This is a very small symbolic gesture compaired to the 20 – 100 million barrels of toxics being dumped currently by the too big to prosecute you know who. Some of the toxics should be heavier than water to demonstrate the concept that just because you cant see it, its still toxic and illegal.

    This act of civil disobedience would have to be prosecuted under American law. The point would be to demonstrate how the law diverges in the treatment of corporate persons vs normal breathing ones. I would hope that it would be hard to argue that they should be treated differently.

    Maybe this is a bad idea. Maybe no one would notice.

  8. Leif says:

    Good one David Smith, #7. Got my vote.

  9. Andy says:

    @David Smith #6 — I agree. I would love to see criminal prosecutions come out of this. Lots of them. Against the corporations (and their employees) involved, especially BP, and against federal MMS employees who “aided and abetted” them.

    It is also my understanding that a criminal suit against BP as a company does not cap the damages BP can be ordered to pay. Does anyone know if that is the case?

    BP should be fined for billions of dollars as part of a criminal prosecution. Money is what that company cares about, to hit them (hard) where it hurts.

  10. Andy says:

    @Jeff Huggins #4,

    Really great post, especially the “a few other things demand reform at this point, ‘or else’” part.

    Your 1st, 2nd, and 4th points are great big picture things that I absolutely agree need attention. Regarding your 1st point on the Corporate Board situation, I have friends who tell mind-boggling stories about how that situation works. Calling corporate boards “unethical in some ways” is a big understatment, in my mind. And I have long thought it ridiculous that corporations are viewed as individuals in the eyes of the law. It would be huge to get that changed, and then following, get corporate money out of politics (both elections and decision-making)!

    Your 3rd point is a (highly relevant) common-sense item that perhaps could be addressed through a rule-making effort. Something like, a proven disaster response methodology to a “reasonable” worst-case scenario (“your pipe leaks” would even qualify in the Deepwater case) must be in place before relevant permits are issued.

    Jeff (and Joe?), any chance you could expand on your comment in a post, here or elsewhere? You raise great points, and my guess is you have given some thought to how they could be implemented. I for one would be excited to hear those thoughts.

  11. Richard Brenne says:

    Great post and even greater comments, with Yogi-One’s (#2), Jeff’s (#4) and Leif’s (#3) each exploring different levels of reality about this.

    I think all three of these comments are true and make the most critical points, especially Leif’s that is the deepest and most philosophical approach of the three.

    Corporations are like robots we’ve programmed to do our bidding but they’ve often turned against us (especially those in fossil fuels, drugs, insurance, banking and financial services, but also many others) and will kill us off if we timidly stand in unthinking, paralyzed shock and allow them to do so.

    If a human construct like corporations can be programmed in such a way that they eventually kill all or most of us off, then they can be programmed in an infinitely more intelligent way to not kill us off, in ways that Jeff suggests.

    But this will take a radical shift in consciousness, not a one or two degree shift but more like a 180 degree shift. We’re all riding a Bullet Train heading at 200 mph in exactly the wrong direction off a cliff. . .into an ocean. . .of burning oil.

    The first thing is to recognize what’s going on (this Climate Progress does better than any other entity in any other medium), the second is to brake as rapidly as possible, stop, then move in exactly the opposite direction that will save us.

    Thus all our unthinking behavior needs to be changed to thinking behavior in the direction of what is truly sustainable.

    Just as sex is not just the marketing tool it appears to have become but basic biology, sustainability is not just a greenwashing corporate term but what nature finds for every species in relation to the resources of its habitat, every single time.

    If we do not find sustainability, nature will find it for us.

    So arguing along conventional lines is like two people bickering about something as a 100-foot high tsunami is approaching. You could be right in that argument but what really matters is that we all move to the highest spiritual, moral, ethical and practical ground we can, as fast as we can.

    Educate and activate what each of you propose – and change everything, beginning with our consciousness and then in turn every institution.

  12. Jeff Huggins says:

    Thanks, and Understanding Roots

    A quick comment as I get ready to go somewhere this PM …

    Thanks for the thoughts and kind comments above.

    Some history …

    Not all that long ago, “corporations” didn’t exist. (This is, perhaps, a hint that they didn’t come from God with a special kiss and blessing.)

    Indeed, Adam Smith himself had some concerns, and not-so-nice words to say, about the things that could result from large organizations such as those that we now call corporations, if they weren’t regulated by the public in important ways and if they got out of hand and got too much power.

    The first somewhat large corporations came about to help fund projects that were specifically intended for public purposes, for the public good. For example, canals and such. These corporations were granted by the government, for specific purposes. And towns were incorporated. This is interesting to note, and something that most people probably don’t realize: The first corporations were allowed and formed in order to facilitate specific good projects aimed at the public good. The public good. You heard it right.

    Later, general corporations began to be allowed. Even at that time, they were allowed, in theory anyhow, because doing so would serve the public good, i.e., a way of making progress that would be good for the public and so forth. As time passed, the linkage between the whole corporation concept and the public good was lost in the shuffle. States began to compete by offering the most “liberal” (easy) laws and the lowest corporate tax rates. Corporations shopped around to find places where laws were lax and taxes were low. Many people adopted the assumption that corporations were “good”, by definition, and that corporations and free markets could do no harm. These are, of course, not good general assumptions, and nobody has ever proved those things, of course. If you want reasonably responsible and healthy and just outcomes, you sometimes have to regulate corporations, or regulate markets, just as you have to have laws to help “regulate” individual people if you want responsible behaviors in society. There is no magic rule that says that corporations will “do good” by definition or that unregulated free markets will always manage to work things out in ways that result in the public good in all senses. No such thing.

    I find it interesting that “even” Adam Smith (who was actually brilliant, and a moral philosopher) expressed some deep concerns about letting things get out of hand, and I also find it interesting (and somewhat ironic) that corporations were originally allowed and formed in order to do specific projects that would specifically serve the public good.

    This was a quickie comment. I’d be happy to write a post, at some point, to explain this with a bit more eloquence, if you like. (Also, I should say that I owe a lot of this “understanding of business history” to a great prof from long ago and to some recent correspondence with him, but I’ll leave him nameless because I haven’t asked his permission to use direct quotes or etc.)

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  13. David Smith says:

    Jeff Huggins #4 Point @3 – Corporate money out of politics – I believe that our system of government is in part based on the concept of one person, one vote. Allowing any corporate money or influence into elections effectively violates this principle because it gives certain individuals undue influence based on wealth. Every person in a corporation gets a vote and gets to influence the process by free speach. Corporate employees also get corporate representation and influence.

    The concept of corporations as people is pure opportunism by corporate interests. It has nothing to do with the constitution and violates the principles of the founders. If corporations are same as people they should get to vote, which they dont. Everyone knows that this is a riiculous idea. Corporationists know that they wield more power with the present system anyway without the corporate vote.

    Many problems with our current system of government would be solved by removing corporate influence. In the void caused by the death of corporatism the actual voices of the people would be heard and te interests of the people would be served.

  14. Leif says:

    Perhaps all corporations should be required to establish an escrow account equal to the amount of money that they spend on their own advocacy. That fund should be able to be tapped by public advocacy groups to counter with equal time and exposure.

    I would go much further but hay, it would be a start.

  15. Windsong says:

    “Where is God?”, Leif (#3) asks. Where He/She has always been– trying to get through to mankind’s hard headedness. Unfortunately, mankind blocks out the “still, small voice” and goes on with his selfish and greedy actions: rapeing and plundering the Earth.

  16. Doug Bostrom says:

    Jeff:

    This was a quickie comment. I’d be happy to write a post, at some point, to explain this with a bit more eloquence…

    I for one wish you would. I think we’re coming to a crisis point with regard to corporate behaviors; the BP fiasco is an case example as well as a teachable moment. Better perspective on the continuum leading to this point would be great.

  17. sarah says:

    I found some unexpected resonance to the problems of corporate interference in government in a NYT opinion piece on Jamaica by Orlando Patterson.
    http://tinyurl.com/2dpr9ue

    He is talking about drug gangs abusing the democray in Jamaica, but try substituting “Oil companies” for gangs, slightly more subtile pressures than overt violence, and increase the dollar level by many orders of magnitude, in these passages:

    “For decades political leaders have used armed local gangs to mobilize voters in their constituencies; the gangs are rewarded with the spoils of power, …”

    “These gangs eventually moved into international drug trafficking, with their leaders, called “dons,” becoming ever more powerful. The tables turned quite some time ago, with the politicians becoming dependent on the dons for their survival.”

    “Organized crime, especially international trafficking in drugs, has become a serious threat to democracies worldwide. Felia Allun and Renate Siebert, the editors of an important scholarly collection, “Organized Crime and the Challenge to Democracy,” argue that ‘it is by exploiting the very freedoms which democratic systems offer that organized crime is able to thrive … although mortifying democratic rights, these kinds of crimes need the democratic space to flourish.’”

    When we allow the gangs to own our democracy, then it is no longer worthy of the name.

  18. Andy says:

    @Jeff Huggins (#12) and Doug Bostrom (#16), I wholeheartedly agree.

    Jeff, if you have time, a full post outlining corporate reform needs would be very timely. It’s not the most “hip” of topics, but I very much believe it underlies the current corruption and dysfunction of our political system.

  19. James Newberry says:

    A few thoughts:

    The term corporatism (as in the past two decades of “deregulation”) is directly linked to fascism (the merging of state and business interests etc.).

    Money is a state sanctioned, tradable symbol of political power. It has no inherent value. The doctrine that money is speech is a society built on corruption.

    Oil is NOT an energy resource (to Mother Earth). It is an extracted liquid, one of the three states of matter, a material resource. Our entire economy is built on the fraud of calling materials used for explosives (including uranium and sequestered hydrocarbons) as “energy resources,” which is massive fraud. This is why we head toward increasing global disease and injustice in the twenty-first century and expanding climate impoverishment (including ocean death, forest death and the sixth great planetary extinction event, at our own hands).

    Unregulated global corporatism is killing nation-states like America as it kills the ecosphere.

  20. Bill Becker says:

    Excellent comments here. Much appreciated. I also hope that Jeff follows up with a post on corporate reform.

    To climb back into the weeds of this god-awful incident for a moment, another thought occurred to me having to do with the spill record of oil companies. President Obama cited the safety record of offshore production when he opened more areas to drilling. Two points come to mind. First, as the Gulf disaster shows, it only takes one leak to wreck an ecosystem.

    Second, past safety records probably won’t mean much as petroleum and gas companies drill in ever-more-challenging places for ever-harder-to-reach supplies. BP admits that every measure it has tried to stop the leak has never before been attempted at that depth. In other words, there was no tested and proven Plan B, no reliable fail-safe system to stop a leak of this magnitude one mile beneath the surface. Without such a plan, it seems to me, BP should not have been allowed to drill there.

  21. Leif says:

    ““Where is God?”, Leif (#3) asks. Where He/She has always been– trying to get through to mankind’s hard headiness. Unfortunately, mankind blocks out the “still, small voice” and goes on with his selfish and greedy actions: rapeing and plundering the Earth.” Windsong, #15

    Then I must ask where are the moral leaders of the Churches. These folks have had thousands of years to get their act together yet fail to deliver their flock when their very existence is in peril.

  22. Jeff Huggins says:

    “What is Hip?”

    Thanks, Bill, for your comment and for the great post. I agree with your points in the recent comment too.

    And thanks to folks for other comments too.

    While topics such as corporate reform and history (how we got to this place in the first place) do not seem hip, we’ll need to make them “hip” in some senses anyhow. We need to awaken the sleeping giant — i.e., the public — on what’s going on, why it hurts (you and you and you and me too), and how it can indeed be addressed, at least if we are willing to get out of our beds in the mornings, that is.

    I will try to write something on corporate reform and/or “how we got here” when I can. I actually look forward to it, although it’s hard to come up with entertaining lines these days: Oil has a way of smothering the fun out of things.

    Cheers for now,

    (and thanks again)

    Jeff

  23. Sumner says:

    In the second to last paragraph, in the second to last sentence you meant to say ‘mean’ instead of ‘meant.’

    Solid article.