Because We Just Don’t Listen

1) An earthquake decimates Haiti, resulting in 220,000 deaths. The proportionately high death count compared to population causes some experts to call the quake the worst natural disaster in modern times. To call the disaster “natural,” however, begs some qualification, since most of the nation’s infamous poverty, weak economy and political corruption can be laid at the US’s and IMF’s door step. True, we did not cause the earthquake, but for a century our economic, military and foreign policies, fueled by corporate greed, have so weakened Haiti, her deep poverty and poor infrastructure could only hinder rescue attempts.

2) An explosion at a Massey Energy coal mine in W. Virginia kills 29, becoming the worst US mining disaster in 40 years. Said Massey board member Stan Suboleski, “I’m mystified at what occurred at the mine on April 5. Something very unexpected happened at Upper Big Branch.” Gee whiz. Of course, CEOs admitted, the mine did have a record of safety violations stretching back years (only 458 violations last year, and federal inspectors fined Massey more than $382,000 for repeated violations involving ventilation and equipment. Fines like these, of course, are mere operating expenses). But even these CEOs did not try to blame the explosion on “seismic activity” near the site, as FOX News tried to do.

3) An offshore rig explodes, killing 11, and results in the worst oil spill in history, vomiting 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf and threatening habitat, wildlife and fisheries on an unheard of scale for generations to come. Get this. “We are responsible, not for the accident, but we are responsible for the oil and for dealing with it and cleaning the situation up,” BP CEO Tony Hayward brazenly told the press. (Just ignore the fact that BP’s deep-water rig had a history of fires, spills and safety and training violations over the past 10 years. Or perhaps he meant, “It’s not our fault; it’s Halliburton’s.”)

4) Record rainfall (13 inches in two days) results in massive flooding in Tennessee and adjoining states. 15 deaths reported. Parts of Nashville under water. Meanwhile, Congress is poised to pass a so-called “climate bill” that guts the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

5) Last week Goldman-Sach’s Lloyd Blankfein (if you’re wondering what the “blank” stands for, read on) received a tongue-lashing from Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, who asked if the CEO had any regrets. Said Blankfein, “Regret to me means something that you feel like you did wrong, and I don’t have that.” I think we’re in the realm of a corporate culture that borders on sociopathy.

Yes, 2010 has been a banner year for unregulated capitalism and big business run amok, for corporations that control our government, treat human beings like Kleenex and use the environment like an ever-flushable toilet.

Do you get the feeling God is trying to tell us something? Coaxing us from the edge of the abyss? Could it be we’re just not listening? No, we’re too busy blaming the earth while we seek more, more, more unsustainable growth. As Cassius says to Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar,

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings. (1.2.135)

To quote Mr. Letterman, “By the way, Sarah Palin…how’s that offshore drilling working for ya?”


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