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Friday, June 04, 2010

Big Oil and Bobby Jindal (cont.)

Continuing my rant from yesterday's post re Bobby Jindal's utopian air of laissez-faire oil drilling, I'd like to point to the map, specifically to Nigeria. The country, sitting in the middle of the African continent on the crook of the western coastline, is the most populous in Africa. It is rich as well. Rich in oil. Unfortunately is is poor in just about everything else, also mainly due to oil.

From 1970 to 2000, according to Nigerian government estimates, there were 7000 oil spills in the country. One of the most devastating spills has occurred in the Niger Delta, and is at least as large as the Deepwater Horizon disaster now pummeling the Gulf of Mexico.

But in Nigeria there is no camera crew to cover it. No Brian Williams to interview some government hack. There isn't even a Shell Oil executive appearing on TV wearing a look of frustration. There's pretty much nothing, except for a lot of oozing ugly greasy black stuff.

Nigerian light crude--the most desired of the grades of oil--accounts for 40% of the amount of oil the US imports. 40%! But do we care about the Nigerians living in this hell-hole? Heck no. (Nigerians now have a life expectancy of...40!) Do any of the oil companies? No. Shell waited six months to even send somebody out to the latest spill. As long as BP cleans up our mess (not a sure thing, by the way) we don't seem to have a concern. But we should. Here's why:

1) Nigeria and Mexico and other large third world countries that live on the income that oil gives them are proving grounds for the basic truth of the oil industry: Greed matters and it is the only thing that matters. Fishing industry ruined? That is not the concern of Big Oil. Human rights? Not the concern of Big Oil. General welfare of the populace? Not the concern of big oil.

2) Oil drilling is hazardous, not only to those brave souls who live--and die--doing the hard labor, but for those living nearby and those living even not so nearby. Water in Nigeria may very well become more valuable than the oil that has poisoned so many wells, simply because it is becoming scarce. Here's a clue: we can believe that oil is becoming scarce when Big Oil starts caring about all the crap it is leaving behind.

3) Oil drilling has one certainty to it: environmental disaster. Let's start adding up the real cost of oil. If we did we'd find that a gallon of gasoline doesn't truly cost $2.86 a gallon but more like $10 a gallon.

4) Bobby Jindal is one of a bunch of government flunkies that will do the bidding of Big Oil, even to the detriment of those electing him. These people get elected by ignoring the reality of the Gulf, of the Mexican spills, of the Exxon Valdez, of Nigeria. They say things like "we shouldn't have to choose between clean beaches and oil."

Well we do. We have to choose. Let's do choose and choose wisely.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Tonight I was watching NBC News with Brian Williams interviewing Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at the scene of the oil spill. Globs of oil covered the beaches. Brown ooze now blankets the Louisiana coastline, coating pelicans and terns and so forth.

You might expect Jindal to be a tad circumspect regarding future oil rigs bobbing up and down the Gulf. But you would be wrong. Jindal adheres to the Republican platform (full disclosure: this author is a Republican, written with a punctuated embarrassment) of Drill, Baby, Drill! Even now. Even now.

He says, "We shouldn't have to choose between drilling for an energy source like oil and clean beaches." Really? And Avatar wasn't a movie...it was a documentary! And Harry Potter is alive and well somewhere in the Lakeside District of England.

If this disaster hasn't shaken the likes of these Republican oil barons (and their lackeys) into reality from their Utopian dream of clean carbon energy sources, then nothing will. And apparently nothing is going to.

The citizens of Louisiana should kick this guy out of office pronto. Any mention of drilling anywhere near the Gulf should be met with an oil glob pie right in the face.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Brand v. Generic (this time for pets!)

The New York Times has published an article that neatly dovetails with my previous blog entry, the one concerning brand v. generic. It appears that two renowned scientists, a Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, and Malden C. Nesheim, emeritus professor of nutrition at Cornell University, have taken the lion's share of pet food and sifted the remains in order to find out what precisely is in there, and more to the point, what is really the difference between the high end vittles and the low end (published as “Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat,” published in May by Free Press). You've probably guessed by now about the conclusions. Right. Not much difference. Maybe a prettier package, but all these pet foods come from the same source: human scraps.

So you can spend a lot on your pet and feel all fuzzy good that you are doing your best for good old Max but who--or what? but then again, corporations are people now aren't they?-- you are really doing your part for the bottom line of some rather large food conglomerates. So give yourself a big pat on the back. Bravo! Now hurry up, as fido wants his filet mignon biscuit and I want my stock dividend!