When you accept money for political campaigns from big corporations and special interests groups that display a failure to respect the rights and viewpoints of others, and embrace a humanistic way of doing business, you end up becoming just like them. The funding of millions of dollars by the Koch brothers of the GOP and the Tea Party is a perfect example of such a partnership. Yesterday, iWatch News (Center for Integrity) said in an eye-opening article — that should be on everyone’s “must read in full” list — that:
Koch Industries, a leader of industry resistance to proposed post-9/11 anti-terrorism safeguards at petrochemical plants, owns 56 facilities using hazardous chemicals that put 4.8 million Americans who live nearby at risk.
Schools, homes, hospitals, office parks, churches, recreation areas, nursing homes and daycare facilities dot the properties that surround the Koch plants.
In the government’s “worst case” scenarios, the millions working or living near the plants could be threatened by explosions, chemical spills or clouds of deadly gas, federal records show. Among the hazardous chemicals stored and used at Koch sites are formaldehyde, chlorine, anhydrous ammonia and hydrogen fluoride. [….]
A responsible business would strive to protect the people who live and work close to their chemical plants, making that business an asset to the community it is in. Instead, Koch spent $44 million lobbying Washington to, “oppose counter-terrorism proposals that would require … petrochemical firms use less hazardous practices and chemicals” by hiring 20 lobbyists and four lobbying firms to reshape this legislation and other issues over the past four years.
Divide $44 million between Koch’s 56 facilities and the corporation could have about $1.27 million dollars per facility to review and upgrade safety standards where applicable over four years instead. Osama bin Laden may be dead but al Qaeda isn’t. In addition, replacing highly hazardous materials with less hazardous ones can also diminish the affects of mishaps caused by inclement weather and human error.
While I don’t know how much it would cost to implement stricter safety measures at each of Koch’s facilities, there is sufficient, factual data from the 1989 Chernobyl disaster and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown in March this year warrant the corporation’s support of these measures. Their choice to do otherwise and ignore the potential danger to 4.8 million Americans shows a total lack of humanity and an abuse of money, perceived power and influence.
Even though Koch Industries is the second largest corporation in America affording them much money to fund misguided ways of doing business, the people still have the final say. In the words of Saul Alinsky:
“Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.” [More important in this case], “Tactics mean doing what you can with what you have.”
We have the ballot box and our voice further empowered by the limitless reach of the online petition. (One need only scroll through the victories section on Change.org to see how powerful our voice is with this tool.) In other words, the power is still with us. If it weren’t, big corporations like Koch Industries wouldn’t funnel millions into the GOP and Tea Party PACS to censure our vote, to dissuade us from voting, while promoting fiction as truth to turn us away from what really matters.
Frankly, whether we wish to recognize it or not, we the people put the GOP and the Tea Party into power by either voting for them or not voting at all. We need to shoulder some of the blame for the state we are in and take responsibility to make better causes if we wish to realize better effects.
I recently received an email from a friend that said they were seriously considering not voting during the next election cycle because they are “fed up” with the kinds of decisions politicians are making right now. I know and respect this person and believe in my heart that at the critical moment, they will vote.
After the GOP’s and the Tea Party’s debt ceiling debacle and downgrade of our credit rating, their threats of dismantling Social Security and Medicare, and their tax breaks for the richest, how can there be any doubt that the no vote phenomena (coupled with voting for “the other guy” out of spite) during the 2010 midterm elections has had a negative affect making matters worse and not better?
And yet, in spite of the reckless actions of the Tea Party and the GOP, our current administration and the President has managed to accomplish a great deal; which says President Obama is still the right person for the job. I don’t know of anyone else more capable of drawing out anything positive from the current congressional majority.
The 2012 elections, as with all elections at all levels, give us an opportunity to use our power wisely. We’ve allowed people a seat at the table in Congress that display no regard for others’ rights or points of view, or any respect for humanity. We have the power to replace them with others more suitable to govern in a fair and humane way who will work constructively with President Obama and the rest of Congress for everyone’s benefit by exercising our vote. This is where we need to put our energies.