I woke up today thinking, you know what your blog really needs Jefferson? A good ol’ fashioned hit piece. Instead of going after someone’s character, I’m putting my cross-hairs on the global economy. Maybe I’ll throw some facts in, maybe I won’t, because, like the great Hunter Thompson, I’d rather write something true than something factual.
That’s not to compare myself to Thompson. I never did get to meet the man. I did read a lot of his published work, some of his unpublished stuff even. I was, and will always be, a fan. When it came to the understanding of how a perfectly composed sentence has the same kind of precise killing power of say, a Tomahawk missile, few writers truly grasp and wield the explosiveness of words as deftly as Thompson did. “The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing if the Nazis won the war.” Factual? No. True? Absolutely.
The Nazis and their “solutions” to the world’s “problems” still vaguely seem like an unimaginable evil that we must fight against. Hitler, long dead now, still strikes fear in the hearts of millions with the mere mention of his name. But I submit that Adolf and his whacked out gang of thugs were nothing but a group of incompetent and brutish punks, compared to the new wave of unimaginable evil that we, the people, absolutely must fight against.
Who is the leader of this supposed evil? Where can one fight against it?
Let me be clear – money is not going away. At least, not until people figure out a way to make money based on money going away, a circular thesis that makes no sense and hurts my head, but it’s the only way I see the money-based market economy dissolving. Let me also be very clear in telling you that I have neither an economist to espouse nor vilify here…no Marx, no Keynes, no Smith, no Friedman, no Rubin, no Klein, no Greenspan, no Paulsen, so on and so forth.
The greatest threat facing the world today is the rise of corporations that put profits ahead of people, and by doing so, they put both people and profits in danger of becoming extinct. They are irresponsible, they are short sighted, and worse, they are unwilling to change or adapt in order to protect themselves.
In the mid-90’s I worked for a large engineering firm that, while it certainly was not perfect with it’s environmental record, recognized that it was better business to spend the money to do something right, the first time. It’s a simple idea. Yet, so few businesses really want to operate this way. The thinking is this: if you can get away with doing something cheaper early on, then, later, when there’s more money, you can upgrade things. But my question for such business people is always the same: if you don’t have the time or the money to do things right now, then how on Earth are you going to find the time or the money to do things right later on, after you’ve already invested time & money? Again, simple stuff, yet, hard for so many business operators to accept.
So, while I worked as a project administrator for a company that would do HUGE infrastructure projects (dams, bridges, oil refineries, nuclear power plants) the interesting thing to me was that they were absolutely UNAFRAID to go over budget. Of course they didn’t want to do this if it could be helped. But, if it came down to people’s lives being put at risk, or saving some money on costs, 100% of the time, they’d side with people’s well-being. If it meant doubling the budget, then that’s what they’d do, every time, WITHOUT debate or hesitation.
One thing that my company shied away from was oil/natural gas exploration. Unlike every one of our major competitors, our thinking was this: will this exploration harm our environment in such a way as to incur cascading catastrophic consequences? The science says yes? Hmmm. So this work could very well put the entire ecosystem of the Earth at risk? Seriously?
So we said we didn’t want any part of that, and told those companies, ahem, Halliburton/KBR, that they’d better call us when they need the Earth fixed, because we’ll do the job right, the first time.
Now, I didn’t like it, but what could be done? Our company could’ve waved our hands in the air, called out all of these competitors. And it would have meant NOTHING. Except that we’d lose billions in business around the globe. And yet, by saying nothing, we were complicit in a system that put trillions in global business at risk… not to mention… all of our very lives!
Therein lies the problem — accountability. No entity can hold corporations liable for irresponsible and dangerous choices anymore. Perhaps globalization is to fault for this. Perhaps it’s something else. Those fines you see doled out to companies like BP after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill? They mean ZERO. The fine amount is irrelevant because there is no enforcement. Not only do they not pay the fine, they laugh it off. You think regulators are going to put chains and locks on BP’s doors?
There may have been a time for that kind of protection, but that time has passed. And it’s unbelievable to me that our elected officials fail so miserably when it comes to enforcing any sort of responsible business practices. They crow incessantly about the evil of regulations, yet, without safeguards, we’re all in danger. We’re in danger because Shell needs $50B more on it’s balance sheet.
It’s a systemic failure caused by greed. The symptoms are increasing carbon dioxide and methane. The effects of those symptoms are being expressed in the bizarre climate changes that we are just starting to experience.
I really do hope they’ll call my old company to fix the Earth though. The job will get done right, which is what we should all want. Not more money. The money will come when the job’s done right. Right?