Today’s preposterous idea: fossil fuel subsidies


Click here to see Austin-American Statesman flood coverage.

Watching reports of yet another massive flood in Texas, part of the extreme climate events that are increasing in frequency, I am reminded of two or three previous “historic”  floods I lived through in what used to be my home state.  I still have lots of family members in Texas — thankfully all safe, but all of whom were affected one way or another by the extraordinary amounts of rainfall over the holiday weekend.

A few of them still don’t buy into the notion of climate change or its relationship to fossil fuels.  I expect most eventually will, as the Katrina effect takes hold, but this post isn’t for them, at least yet.  It’s a reminder for the rest of us to continue chipping away, as best as we can, at the intransigence of our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and especially, politicians.

If words are roads, then the following quote — apologies for the tortured metaphor — starts in a gated community, a dead-end boulevard ending on a corporate version of Big Rock Candy Mountain:

A Shell spokesman said: “Shell supports and endorses incentive programmes provided by state and local authorities that improve the business climate for capital investment, economic expansion and job growth. Shell would not have access to these incentive programmes without the support and approval from the representative state and local jurisdictions.” — from The Guardian, May 12, 2015

Translated, this pretty obviously means, “Shell stockholders like deadbeat legislators giving us taxpayers’ money to make the company more rich, and legislators like Shell returning the favor through political contributions out of corporate profits resulting from taxpayer money.”

Harry McLintock's view of a world where handouts grow on bushes is true -- at least in the corporate world. Click here to watch and listen to the classic song.

Streams of alcohol and handouts growing on bushes — click here to listen to the classic song and watch an accompanying video from the YouTube page (screenshot above) of animator Ian Benjamin Kenny.

Harry McClintock‘s musical view of a world where handouts grow on bushes is true — at least in the corporate world.

Forget all the hokum about jobs and economic development.  Whatever results isn’t nearly enough to offset the increasing pace of killing off Earth. To be fair, the Guardian’s look at how these subsidies break down is heavily dependent on a definition of “subsidy” that includes health-care costs from pollution resulting from fossil fuel.  But costs are costs.  We can’t ignore that.

Put the same money into virtually anything with a more widespread value — alternative energy sources, health care, education — that would also create jobs and kill the earth less slowly, and it’s a far bigger win.

What can we do?  Speak out, share information, sign petitions, reduce your own dependence … little things make a big difference when we add them all up.

Hat tip to Jeremy Solin for his Facebook post drawing attention to U.S. Uncut‘s post on this topic.  If you’ve gotten this far, reward yourself by watching Ian Benjamin Kenny‘s videos of the Dirty Epics’ “Pony” and Spider’s “We Are Spiders.”

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