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The sun is shining a wee bit brighter this morning, as the nation of Brazil has decided to defend their ocean ecosystem against the kind of rapacious corporate wankery that we Americans have come to see as perfectly normal in our own environs.
Via CommonDreams, it seems 17 Transocean and Chevron executives were prevented from leaving Brazil, so they could be charged with Crimes Against Nature. If convicted, they face upwards of 31 years in prison.
Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, the lead prosecutor for the case, toldReuters he was tired of oil companies escaping accountability, including large fines and jail time, for environmental crimes. ”We need to change the parameters,” he said. “If companies don’t listen to millions, we have to ask for billions.”
Oliveira accused the oilmen of creating a “contamination time bomb.” While the spill was not enormous compared to very large spills like Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, Oliveira says Chevron’s subsea oil reservoir was damaged by reckless drilling, raising the specter of future catastrophic leaks.
Brazilian authorities estimate that 2,400 barrels of crude were spilled, which led authorities to suspend all of Chevron’s drilling operations and to deny the company access to huge new offshore fields. Evidence shows that oil seapage continues near the drill site, furthering fears that the damage is much worse than first thought, and certainly more negatively impactful than Chevron and Transocean have argued.
For a mere 2,400 barrels of spillage, people face prison time and billions in reparations. Imagine that!
In the US, of course, spilling millions of barrels of crude into the oceans that give us sustenance, results in federal guarantees of future profits, tax cuts, bonuses and overt protection from future prosecution. This, of course, is only one of many reasons why our country is in decline. In the US, crime definitely pays.
Brazil, on the other hand, is a rising economy and in this case, it shows in a very positive fashion. It seems they have an interest in protecting that which they depend on for food. What a concept!
A few days back, economist Nouriel Roubini made the offhand comment that:
Karl Marx had it right. At some point, capitalism can destroy itself. You cannot keep on shifting income from labor to capital without having an excess capacity and a lack of aggregate demand.
As has been noted before, nothing Roubini said was at all – ahem – revolutionary. In fact, there’s really no dispute that his analysis was founded on “well-proven conventional modern macroeconomics.” Much of it didn’t even go beyond Economics 101.
In an article on Project Syndicate which describes the difficulties besetting solutions reliant on fiscal policy, monetary policy, and inflationary measures, Roubini further writes:
Karl Marx, it seems, was partly right in arguing that globalization, financial intermediation run amok, and redistribution of income and wealth from labor to capital could lead capitalism to self-destruct (though his view that socialism would be better has proven wrong). Firms are cutting jobs because there is not enough final demand. But cutting jobs reduces labor income, increases inequality and reduces final demand.
Recent popular demonstrations, from the Middle East to Israel to the UK, and rising popular anger in China – and soon enough in other advanced economies and emerging markets – are all driven by the same issues and tensions: growing inequality, poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness. Even the world’s middle classes are feeling the squeeze of falling incomes and opportunities.
Of course, Roubini is playing fast and loose with the definition of “socialism.” Stalinist Russia – that is to say, the Soviet Union after Lenin’s more or less capitalist New Economic Policy was replaced – (and its numerous imitators) was an experiment in nationalized state capitalism on an underdeveloped, pseudo-feudal society.
Socialism as such was not and has never been tried. You can certainly criticize Marxist ideas (I do), but you can’t say that “socialism failed” if you don’t even pretend to follow the manual.
Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record as measured by our total recordable incident rate and total potential severity rate.
I think we should take them at their word, that compared to their “total potential severity rate” they did pretty good. In other words, their operation is so dangerous we were lucky to only get one huge, life destroying event — according to them.
Seriously, this is how out of whack the executive culture is these days. They believe they deserve more money for anything and everything. They can do no wrong.
Got another Democracy for America email this afternoon, this time about an explosion of a fracking well in Canton, Pennsylvania four days ago. Naturally I visited Google News to read coverage. There’s 1 (yes, one) major news outlet with a story, the Frenchies at AFP:
Crews in Pennsylvania gained control Friday of a natural gas well that blew out and spilled thousands of gallons of chemical-laden drilling fluid into the environment over two days.
But the incident has drawn attention to concerns over a controversial drilling process of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which is seen as having enormous potential for capturing natural gas but has environmental risks.
The operator of the well, Chesapeake Energy, has suspended operations at its wells in Pennsylvania pending its investigation into the causes of the spill.
The environmental damage from the spill is unclear. The exact amount of fluid that spilled from the well was not disclosed, and it was not clear exactly what the fluid contains.