Oil and Slime
The oil gush in the Gulf of Mexico continues. The environmental destruction is so geographically vast that it is difficult to wrap one's brain around it. Livelihoods have vanished, some temporarily, others permanently. Photographs of suffering and dead animals coated in black gunk are heartbreaking.
While the experts and scientists scratch their heads about how to end the now 2+ months of environmental degradation, I, and others, scream silently about why this monstrosity occurred. The answer is slime: not the oil variety, but the human kind. Slimy people at BP did not spend a penny on preparing a solid "what if" strategy, and the government officials who granted permission to BP to drill, baby, drill did not require a scientifically sound disaster plan. Slime all around.
Unfortunately, we don't yet know how to stop the oil gush ("spill" is too quaint and understates the reality), but we do know how to contain much of the slime. The answer is simple: end all private financing of political campaigns. From the election of dog catcher to President of the United States, public financing would 1) create a more level playing field so the best, rather than the wealthiest, person gets elected, or the person with the wealthiest friends and supporters, and 2) require politicians to be more beholden to voters rather than campaign contributors. Elected officials would have fewer reasons to be in bed with the industries they are charged with overseeing, e.g., oil and health care. Toss in the gun folks, and you have created the America of today: environmental catastrophe, expensive health care that continues to make private health insurance companies wealthier and too many families poorer, and a violent country with guns galore.
Public campaign financing is not a perfect solution. Organizations would still raise money to advertise in favor of, or in opposition to, candidates. That is the price we pay for free speech, and it's a price I'm willing to incur. But even an imperfect solution would go a long way toward severing the cozy ties between the fox and the hen house.
Imagine an America where politicians spend most of their time courting voters, and then once elected, make decisions based only on what is best for the public. Hence the term "public service." I am not anti-corporations, just against the government being too chummy with corporations at the expense of the public.
Eventually, we will contain the oil well. Isn't it time to get rid of the slime, too?