Jun 15, 2010

The Metaphor for Our Times

Waves crashing on Alabama’s beaches.

Ah the oil spill. Congress hauled in the big oil barons, Mr. Obama is giving a sternly toned speech right about now about the evils of oil and carbon...

And here's why it was a failure.
He offered no ultimatums. No details how he is going to force BP to pay into an escrow account.

No threats against BP for blocking United States Citizens from accessing public beaches. (BP Refuses to Allow Scientists to Test Oil Spill Samples) No specific plan on how all of the Western will transition to clean energy. Sounds like a good idea though...

It probably contained too many war metaphors, and too much talk of presidential commissions, but that is almost always expected.

Then he went all god, faith, and don't look at all that campaign cash I got from BP and the coal companies that operate in southern Illinois. Oh, and Did you know that BP's Largest Shareholder is JPMorgan Chase.

It will be regarded as the worst speech by Obama, and I will go out on a very shaky Chicago balcony and say that this is his Jimmy Carter in a sweater speech. But that's just the White House. There were useless Congressional hearings today too..

The best part was when Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey pointed out the 'cut'n'paste' nature of all the oil baron's emergency plans in the odd chance there is a spill.

In the course of questioning, it became clear that some of the companies have one thing in common: They've copied each other's disaster plan. Among other things, they cut marine life affected by Alaska's Valdez spill and pasted it onto the Gulf of Mexico.

Ed Markey: Exxon Mobil's Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response Plan lists walruses under sensitive biological and human resources. As I am sure you know, there aren't any walruses in the Gulf of Mexico and there have not been for three million years.

These carbon-copied disaster plans for 2009 also listed the phone number of a consultant who's been dead for five years. As Congressman Markey quipped, the only technology the companies seemed to be relying on in these plans was a Xerox machine. One question that seemed to go unanswered was why do companies like BP -- companies who make billions of dollars per quarter -- cut safety corners to save a few million? I'm shocked, shocked, at the very idea!

Look, Congressmen yelling at the Oil Men who write the laws and get these jokers re-elected pretending and hamming it up for the C-Span cameras doesn't impress me.

What impresses me is that the oil spill has become the great metaphor for our time.

It's America's addiction to oil, 1950's technology, big cars, useless mindless consumerism, human fallibility, corporate greed, government regulatory failure and corruption, big money in politics, the human cost to "cheap" oil. All of it, and probably 200 other things I'm not clever enough to think of off the top of my head.

It has become our new 21st century spectacle, and the way we are experiencing it is yet another warning of something that is deeply broken about how we use information today: we consume shocking images almost entirely without taking meaningful action in response.

I mean, you're still driving, right? You're still buying crap at Target and Costco, right? You're still reading this blog on your computer powered by a giant coal belching electrical plant, right? And yeah, I am too - but at least I admit it.

And it's not 'Boycott BP' - it's get off the oil. Meanwhile - here's a live feed. Get angry, but please, don't actually do anything about it.

Okay, did you do anything after watching the spill for a while? I'm betting the answer is no. And how did you feel, as you watched it? Transfixed and dazed, right? Like rubbernecking past a car accident. Did you get out of your car to offer help? Probably not. You've got things to do.

So until I see people protesting by NOT driving, or buying ANY plastic or oil based products, I'm not going to take it seriously.

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