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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/1/11

Multi-national Corporations, Personified

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Terrible catastrophes loom in our future.  Water, oil, food, climate -- all are high on the list of pending and probable disasters.  Any of these could be the first to emerge to truly devastate our way of life.  And when the you-know-what does hit the fan, no matter which is first, these catastrophes may become mutually reinforcing, and we'll experience the mother of all perfect storms.

The obvious thread common to these impending calamities is that they are man-made.  In what is just a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms, in only in the last 100 years, we have participated in the accelerated destruction that brings us now to the brink.  And yet, incredibly, as we witness these growing trends, as the catastrophes loom larger, we persist in actively feeding and sustaining these calamities of our own making.  Yes, we are culpable and, yes, we have enthusiastically partaken; and well, yes, there might be some trouble ahead; but no, we really like our technology and lifestyle.  We are comfortably numb to the realities, and besides, there isn't much we can do anyway, is there?  It may be cognitive dissonance, or it may be magical thinking, but it's never seemed more true that a body at rest tends to stay at rest. 

But if the public is transfixed in the headlights' glare, so too are the policy makers, who are either unable to see, or proudly proclaim their refusal to grasp, the significance of the information made available to them.  These are the smartest guys in the room (or so they keep telling us), and yet they continue to ignore or deny the evidence.  Their stubborn inaction in the face of these disasters not only represents an absolute failure of public policy and political leadership, but, given the stakes involved, may rise to the level of criminal conspiracy.  Of course, by definition a criminal conspiracy requires a co-conspirator, and driving the status quo -- pushing the narrative best captured by the iconic Alfred E Newman's  "What, Me Worry?" -- are the multi-national corporations.  

It is well known that Big Money's control of the media and messaging allows it to deny these pending calamities, even as corporations drive more profit to the bottom line and stuff more wealth into the pockets of the elite from the very activities that hasten our demise.  Their control of the message is so well and widely documented that further proof just seems redundant -- still, it is gratifying that evidence of it so regularly bubbles to the surface.  

In fact, just this week we learned that a leading denier of climate change has taken $1 million from the oil and coal industries over the last decade; among his many services on behalf of the skeptic crowd, Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics has sought to weaken a major assessment of global warming by the UN's leading climate science body.  And according to the Guardian, documents obtained by Greenpeace under FoIA show that "the Charles G Koch Foundation, a leading provider of funds for climate sceptic groups, gave Soon two grants totalling $175,000 in 2005/6, and again in 2010.  In addition the American Petroleum Institute (API), which represents the US petroleum and natural gas industries, gave him multiple grants between 2001 and 2007 totalling $274,000, oil company Exxon Mobil provided $335,000 between 2005 and 2010, and Soon received other grants from coal and oil industry sources including the Mobil Foundation, the Texaco Foundation and the Electric Power Research Institute."  In his comment on these revelations, Kert Davies, a research director at Greenpeace, is reported to have said: "A campaign of climate change denial has been waged for over 20 years by big oil and big coal.  Scientists like Dr. Soon, who take fossil fuel money and pretend to be independent scientists, are pawns."  

And so, because it owns the policy and political agenda, Big Money denies our pending calamities through the shills (scientists and politicians, alike) it employs.  This is true for water, oil and food as it is for climate change -- as it is for virtually any other you might wish to name.  The case of the good Dr. Soon shows again that pay-for-play expertise is readily abundant and will be, sadly, readily sought and employed.  These revelations are only mildly discomforting for the multi-nationals (maybe), the disclosures unlikely to alter their behavior, because the cost-benefit is so wildly positive!  Corporations have become spectacularly successful in their relentless pursuit of shareholder wealth -- in part -- through their dedicated strategy of co-opting our public officials and experts.  

As a result of their success, multi-national corporations are now the world's most dominant economic and political force, and they have become perhaps the greatest threat to mankind in its history.  Because they are at the centre of the worst trends and pending catastrophes, and because they actively and aggressively hold the status quo even as they deny them, multi-national corporations are driving a headlong rush to our ultimate demise.  And even as they do, multi-national corporations -- personified as they are by our elected officials and the other smart people in the room -- gaze back at us with that goofy expression and say "What, Me Worry?"           

Well yes, we need to worry, but we need to do much more.  Faced with imminent mortal danger in your own home, would you just settle in to watch Breaking Bad, or would you rouse yourself to make at least a token effort to save yourself and your family?  Well dear reader, our global house is on fire, and we are faced with the same collective imperative to act.  Because, if we don't, our failure will not only implicate us in this ongoing criminal conspiracy, but will certainly rise to the level of crimes against humanity.

And then we will become the real personification of the multi-national corporations.

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David Ruhlen is a writer and musician living in Canada. He notes with great alarm the profoundly negative trends that will increasingly affect us all. And the trends that have come to so completely reflect the human condition are these: (more...)
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