Thursday, May 27, 2010

Time for Passion

I have heard it said that liberals in general, and compared to today's tea party movement in particular, are not passionate enough about their positions and beliefs. My stock answer has always been that a thoughtful and well reasoned position considers all viewpoints before reaching that conclusion and allows for a change of mind when facts are encountered that prove the original viewpoint incorrect. Conversely, a passionate perspective is often based on emotion, a feeling, or a faith in something not provable with logic. It can be unshakable and uplifting when correct but blind to information that contradicts its veracity.

At least for today however, I will toss away the constraints of reason.


Actually, outraged would be a better word. Outraged that more than 5 weeks have passed since the explosion on the deep sea drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico and the subsequent release of literally millions of gallons of oil into the water. Outraged that BP would ever place profit above the lives of those working on that rig, above the lives of millions of sea creatures and above the livelihood of thousand of Americans who are dependent on the sea.

And I am mad at our president, not because I believe it is his fault, but because he has missed an opportunity to talk to us, on national TV. To tell us how many other deep sea rigs are in use today. To tell us how the regulators we depended on to defend our interests against the oil giants failed at this responsibility. To tell us that he will not rest until the leak is capped and accountability is determined. To assure us that this will never happen again, even if he has to close down all those deep sea wells until their safety is assured. And to ask us to redouble our efforts to conserve gas by car pooling, bicycling, walking, using mass transit and yes, driving a bit slower which he would then mandate by reducing the speed limit on our highways to 55 MPH.

And I am mad at the republicans who have the audacity to try to deflect the blame being accorded to BP as if they don't know that we just spent the first 8 years of the new century with a "business is great" president and a "big oil is the greatest" vice president. As if they don't know that the problem with the regulations is the regulators who weren't doing their job, or worse, were acting under the assumption that they weren't supposed to do their job.

And while I am at it, I am mad at the Supreme Court for their decision a few months ago which seemingly granted the right of individuals to corporations. Gee, do you think that more or less influence will be heaped upon our representatives by special interests whose only concern is that their company gets a tax break or a loosening of regulations?

And I am especially mad at those driving the economy of this country. People who have been fortunate enough to have been born with great intelligence, superior knowledge of business and economic influences and who used those gifts to make as much money as they could for themselves to the detriment of everyone else. I can't help but wonder how anyone who makes such decisions can sleep at night. Is that all they have gleaned from their life, that money and possessions is all that matters? The Scrooges of our times.

But I am most mad at my fellow citizens who are clearly not interested in the ecological catastrophe that is taking place. Where are the protests and boycotts of BP products? When I recently drove to New York City on I-78, I set my cruise control on 65 and watched in dismay as I was passed continuously, sometimes on the left and right, by my fellow travelers. Even people with PA Wildlife license plates whizzed be me.

I am mad at them for handing over their money to the sharks, demanding that they produce double digit returns and then acting shocked when the hedge fund managers had to make up financial instruments to satisfy that demand and who consequently created nothing more than gigantic Ponzi schemes which they then bet against! We created the monster to feed our own greed and are paying the price for this deal.

But more than anything I am mad at Americans for taking their democracy for granted. Less than 60% voter turnout at the last presidential election! Perhaps 35% turnout at the recent round of primaries! Wake up!! This is your government. There are people being killed in other countries as they fight for the right to vote, American men and women dying to defend our rights and you don't have the time to vote every four years!! I don't know who first said this but you get the government you deserve. We are neck deep in a situation where corporation bottom lines trump their responsibility to provide Americans with livable wages and safe products and our government oversight regulators have traded their responsibility to intervene on our behalf for sporting event tickets and vacations in the Bahamas.

So, which is it? Are we disillusioned that our individual actions can't make a difference or do we just not care anymore?


  1. Joe, I just wrote a long comment for this post. I took my left hand off the keyboard to res it as I re-read it for errors and in doing so clipped the ESC key and lost it all. I'm going to bed. Screw this. That wouldn't happen on a typewriter.

  2. Well, Joe, I'll try again.
    I agree with your assessment of 'passion' as a means of approaching life, or a problem or one's work. It's one of those abstract words that holds different meaning for different people. I find it a form of self-congratulation to call one's self passionate.
    Anger is what you feel. Me, too.
    I just finished a 2500 mile trip on the Interstate, my first in nine years. I learned it is worse than ever, a form of madness. People speeding at 80-85 miles per hour in modules of tin and plastic and regularly smashing into each other. For years the automobile was made and called the 'backbone of the economy.' We are paying for that now, in blood and oil and money.
    I don't expect corporations to do the right thing. As Michael Moore has pointed out, insurance companies exist to make profits and benefit shareholders. Their primary concern is not health of patient but increase of profit. All companies will, if they can, cut corners, even cheat and lie to increase profits. They regard this as their duty. This is why they need oversight and regulation.
    This is why they should not be hired for certain tasks, such as contractors in war zones.
    Almost two decades ago, two reporters, Don Bartlett and James Steele of the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote a series of articles and later produced a book from it titled: America: What Went Wrong." You may remember it as it came from your area. I was re-reading it the other night. It's all there, what is wrong and what needs fixing. Everyone loved the book but nothing happened. And nothing has changed, except for the worse.

  3. i agree too

    again it goes back to the frog in a pot theory

    u put a frog in boiling water it jumps out

    u put it in cold and slowly heat it up and stays in (and u have frog soup) imagine taking your great grandparents, bringing them to our 21st century and allow them to compare government from there time to ours (they would be outraged)

    our government is the same way
    little by little they slowly take our rights away (hell patriot act, i may be wrong but heard no one even read it they just signed and for a fake we lost our constitutional rights. What our country was founded on

    BP, i again could be wrong but i bet is the largest industry (oil industry that is) that contributes to the lobbyist which in turn goes to the politicians

    The Russians said a week after it occurred, that with similar situations they would nuke it and resolve. So u ask, why not BP? If they nuke they loose the rights, if they loose the rights they loose money and competitors could get the rights. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Also, we are talking about international water correct? even if it isn't and in US waters, how does BP have the ability or authority to allow or disallow boats into that area. (always disallowing it) Who made them King ($$$$$ to lobbyists)

    So how can we fix this corruption and massive errors

    i say tort reform, consumption tax (eliminate all payroll taxes) so the drug dealers, illegals, strippers, or anyone who works under the table still pays in. Read in an article that 47% of people either dont pay in or get a refund.

    And dont believe that the rich pay in more (u have accountants that know how to write things off and set up some s-corps that will take a loss therefore allowing them to pay less (one big scam)

    Lastly, lets legalize pot (tobacco legal yet kills millions of people ($$$$= lobbyist), oxy and prescription drugs are ok, why pharmaceutical companies and there lobbyist. Why not grass (never fights, haven't heard of anyone dying on it, we could create paper out of hemp which is cheaper and therefore helping our economy and ecology at the same time (trees no cut therefore more conversation of CO2 to O2)

    GREED will take this country down just like every other major civilization

    Also, why bad words (our founding fathers who created the best thing for America the constitution cursed more then, then a drunken sailor so why words, etc illegal??

    Religion which though suppose to be separate from state isn't and influences everything (hence politicians will pander to the bible bangers)

    And i heard that we never had god in trust or the one nation under god in the pledge till the cold war occurred? is that true too?

  4. Thanks to both of you for your comments. For whatever reason, I remain hopeful that man is slowly evolving (emphasis on S-L-O-W-L-Y) spiritually. To me, the fact that we have these discussions, even though we may be frustrated by the lack of progress, indicates that we are on the right path.

    But I do agree that the rise of the corporation has become an obstacle to this evolution. And, the supreme court's recent decision to give corporations more leeway in donating to our representatives in government was a poor decision. Regardless however, of who we think the boogeyman is, big business or big government, we must rely on the people that make up both entities. We must have faith that in the end, day by day, random act by random act, more good will be done than bad and both big business and big government will evolve just as we are evolving as a race.