Sunday, November 08, 2015

Battle Of The Billionaires

I promise! I really had very nearly talked myself out of writing this missive. Really, I had... but then saw a post on my facebook feed, so obviously untrue - and easily refuted, once again proving the premise of my screed and – BAM! Here it is!

Before I begin, I want to (once again) state my personal political bias. I am a non-partisan non-aligned voter who supports any candidate that I believe will be good for the country. That being said, I will admit that my voting for the past few years has been more an exercise of selecting the least objectionable candidate than that of selecting one that I actually support. So, yes, I get the underlying premise of the TEA Party: we need a change. The problem is that Change for the Sake of Change is NOT what we need. We need MEANINGFUL Change.

At the risk of sounding paranoid, the reason that the change the TEA Party so fervently wants will do no good is that they are trying to change the wrong thing. Don’t change the person in the office; we need to change the power behind the office! We need to change the inordinate role that money and corporations play in the selection of our leaders and the writing of our laws.

Anyone who does not believe that there is too much money in the system need only look as far as the recent news of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the misinformation surrounding it. I saw a post this morning that looked too conveniently timed to be accurate. The claims were so unbelievable that they couldn't be accurate and wouldn’t you know it – they weren't true.

The post I saw decried the recent decision by the President to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline as being driven by the “fact” that it would cost Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway fund Billions of dollars. The fact of the matter is that this claim is not true now nor was it true in 2008 when it was first floated. As a matter of fact, Warren Buffet has publically stated (in Fortune Magazine – March 2015, for the record) his support for the pipeline. But as if the fact that he actually supports the pipeline is not enough, the fact that the meme overstates the benefits the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe railroad would garner from the failure of the pipeline. The meme claims that BNSF hauls about 80% if the oil out of Alberta. The facts are (as reported in Forbes Magazine – March 2014) that the Berkshire Hathaway prospectus puts this at about 10%.

Not that the right has the market cornered on this use of inaccurate memes to try and sway voters! The left likes to claim that the Koch brothers are behind the pipeline and would be the only people to benefit from it. The fact of the matter (as reported in Forbes Magazine – October 2013) how the oil gets to the Koch brothers does not matter. Koch industries will take delivery of the oil regardless of the means of delivery. As they neither own nor operate the pipeline, they do not stand to benefit as much as the meme claims.

Don't get me wrong! Running a pipeline that is owned and operated by a company who has so many safety problems as Keystone is a bad idea. Running it across the largest aquifer in the western US, the aquifer that makes farming in such a LARGE area of the US possible is a bad idea in its own right. A leak of one of their pipelines in Kalamazoo in 2012 is still having adverse affects on the watershed of the area. By exchanging such meaningless memes the discussion is diverted away from whether the pipeline is a good idea.

This illustrates the problem: the system is broken! There is too much money in the system and the parties are pandering to the low-information voters like never before. Your knowledge of the issues no longer matters; it is your visceral response to baseless charges is enough to keep you voting for a party whether the actions that they actually take personally benefit you or not. Pair that with the stranglehold that the two parties have on the system and their vested interest in it NOT changing so that they can keep the gravy train (not a scheduled route on the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe) running on schedule.

And now that the Supreme Court has ruled that Money is Speech and Corporations are People the transition of the United States from Democracy to Plutocracy is nearly complete. And this spreading of unsubstantiated rumor only aids in the transition.

Wherever you are, I hope that you will take the minimal effort to research memes before spreading them.

Don Bergquist – November 08, 2015 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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