Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Oilmen Cometh

There are lies, and there is the big lie. I think I've figured out how they are different.
Last week I was about to be very late getting to a customer's home, due to an embarrassing scheduling oversight at my office. When I asked my boss what to say, he looked at me straight and said "do you not know how to lie?"

I was hesitant, and laughed a bit nervously.

He was serious. "Do you not know how to bend the truth a bit to say stuff like 'traffic was a complete mess,' or 'we had an emergency situation that needed fixing,' or 'we are a little short-handed due to the bug that's going around?'"

I thought about it and replied, "well yes, I suppose so." After all, doesn't everyone do that to some degree?

So at that moment, the reason I was late to the customer's home was because it seemed like there was a big accident on the highway and traffic was really backed up. I wasn't entirely comfortable saying that, but it eased a sticky situation, and nobody was hurt by it.

But then there's the big lie.

The big lie is when somebody misleads a people's entire sense of reality or purpose. It's when a little man behind a curtain cons folks into believing that what they're seeing is the ultimate truth. Throughout history we've seen the big lie used to keep the great majority in fear, and the greedy few in power.

Last week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pulled the curtain away from a couple of extremely powerful little men in the oil industry who are seeking to repeal some of the state's landmark environmental achievements.

California Proposition 23, which is a ballot showdown come this November, is a repeal initiative financially sponsored by Tea Party allied oil baron billionaires, the Koch brothers. It aims to dismantle pollution regulations and laws that were enacted to defend the planet from decades of industry abuse. Their reasoning for the repeal? To save jobs.

If that were the truth, then the vast array of small business associations across California surely would be in full step with the repeal.

They are not.

As it turns out, over the past 20-30 years a lot of folks have spent industrious hours researching, testing, and implementing alternative energy business ideas and wondrous new methods of saving energy. Hardworking middle-class Joe the plumber entrepreneurs have planted a green tech economy that is blooming into a new era of American ingenuity. Their work may eventually siphon, sift, and shovel away the filthy, ghastly mess of our fossil fuel world.

The end game? No more BP deep-water drilling disasters, no more Marcellus Shale poison drinking water atrocities, no more Coal River Mountain health tragedies, and most relevant - create an expansive wealth of good, ethical, new jobs.

Contrary to conventional thought, it's been the clean energy business world that has endlessly competed against a heavily government subsidized, tax-dodging, oil industry. Only recently has the US Department of Energy begun to seriously explore and fund clean energy alternatives, and only recently has it looked like green business models might finally succeed, despite the fact that the fossilized dirty fuel dynasties are bankrolled nearly 20-1 by both the federal government and Wall Street compared with clean energy. Oil money comes from a deep, dark well. Now that they feel threatened, their stormtroopers have come in full force to put down the competition, to obliterate our new green world for once and for all.

English: Wind turbine
Image: Wikipedia
Enter Governor Schwarzenegger, the Terminator, a moderate conservative who is bucking the far right Tea Party trending GOP. His rebukes of the oilmen pull no punches. He said at a recent rally that proponents of Prop 23 are attempting to subvert the democratic process by using scare tactics. He likened the campaign to a shell game, hiding what he said was the real purpose - "self-serving greed."

"They are creating a shell argument that they are doing this to protect jobs," the governor said. "Does anybody really believe they are doing this out of the goodness of their black oil hearts - spending millions and millions of dollars to save jobs?"

Prop 23 might very well be about jobs. But jobs for whom? The Koch brothers?--D.A. DeMers.

11/10/10 Update - Proposition 23 was soundly defeated by the voters. It's a great victory for green-building design, green jobs, and the environment. Hats off to my colleagues in California.

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