Consider the following chimerical situation, using both the short term view of the costs to us all as well as the eventual havoc to ourselves and our children and children's children.
Acme Chemical Corporation finds itself facing fines and other sanctions by the Environmental Protection Agency because they have been accused of dumping huge amounts of toxic and cancer causing chemicals, pollutants that are a by-product of various pesticides they make, into the water supplies of surrounding communities. It will cost millions of dollars to not only find a cleaner solution to their indiscriminate dumping but possibly billions to decontaminated the soil and water for miles and miles around that have been despoiled over the last forty years of polluting.
Now, Acme Chemical isn't a starving Mom & Pop business. It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and has assets and income in the high tens of billions. Nevertheless, to expend the huge sums necessary to alleviate the damage that they have caused would be a very unpopular action both at the next stock holders meeting as well as on Wall Street, in general. Since the majority of the earnings accumulated by the executives responsible for the catastrophe is in the form of stock options and other variables related to the stock market, any downward movement in its value would be disastrous, leaving them mere millionaires as opposed to multi-millionaires.
What to do, what to do????
Looking about for a far cheaper solution to their quandary, it is discovered that, for only a few hundred thousand dollars in bribes, er, campaign contributions, the law that the EPA is basing its case on can simply be rewritten or slightly amended, making the pollution problem disappear completely (but not the actual pollution, of course). Hence, during the next election cycle, Acme Chemical not only throws thousands of dollars at their local candidates but tens of thousands more towards anti-regulatory candidates (read Republicans) across the nation. Finally, just to seal the deal, Acme Chemicals tosses another couple hundred thousand dollars in soft money into the national committees of both major parties, guaranteeing itself access to and control over whoever is eventually elected. In fact, as the Congressional Republicans offered to its owners in Corporate America soon after taking over Congress in 1994, corporations such as Acme Chemical could just write whatever environmental laws they liked and the republicans would pretend that it was serious legislation and pass it into law.
So, where does all this leave us? Acme Chemicals Corp. is, due to the new regulations that their helots in Congress wrote especially for them, no longer responsible for past polluting problems but are now no longer even considered to be polluting since the parameters of what is considered dangerous has been widened far beyond what Acme Chemical could produce even if it wanted to. Therefore, it continues to pour its toxic and cancer causing brew into the ecosystem for decades to come.
Concurrently, because nearly all research grants offered to universities comes from Corporate America, nothing about the many unnecessary cases of cancer and other diseases that may be uncovered are ever reported since the results of the corporate sponsored research are completely owned and, thus, hidden by the sponsors.
Also, with nearly all major media being now owned by conservative or ultra-conservative individuals or corporations, any information that may trickle out about the deaths and pain being caused is ignored or vastly down played by their interchangeable pundits.
Since most chemical manufacturers place their plants in the poorest areas of America, those adversely affected by the compounds produced seldom have any reliable access to decent medical care and, thus, most will just quietly die or suffer far from the sight of the public. Inasmuch as the Republican Congress will do nearly anything to prevent universal health care for all Americans, the suffering and death very adequately covers up any problems long before any inconvenient lawsuits by those horrible trial lawyers can get involved.
Of course, the problems caused by the pollution won't resolve itself any time in the foreseeable future, either. Women will pass on to their children the toxins both while the child is in the womb as well as through their breast milk. Genetic mutations, caused by unforeseeable interactions of the toxic brew with human cells and environmental elements, cause tragic results for generation upon generation.
Speaking of the environment, these chemicals can react with normally benign organisms, mutating them into agents with completely unknown power to change the very environment in which they reside, taking over niches normally inhabited by other, less harmful or even beneficial beings. Food grown in the soil or using the water will continue the damage by becoming ingested by unsuspecting Americans for hundreds of years into the future.
Children raised in this area will exhibit difficulty learning and have problems with controlling their behavior, both of which creates tremendous obstacles to assimilating into the technological culture of the future. These children will, of course, be labeled as "trouble makers" and their eventual fate will be a life moving into and out of and back into the nation's sad excuse for a criminal justice system. The costs will be horrendous in the expenses to our courts, construction and manning of more and more prisons and, worse, to society as a whole in the process of dealing with these children throughout their unfortunate lives.
None of this is ordained as the sole course for our future. As a people, we can chart a far more intelligent course, a course which doesn't ignore the future in favor of the short term. We will never, however, have that ability as long as our nation and our democracy is bought and sold to the highest bidders right before our very eyes and with our tacit consent (less that 30% voter turn-outs). Money must not only be removed completely as a part of our political process but anyone who violates that ban must face the harshest and most consistent prison sentences. Only the known and expected punishment will curtail the bribery and skullduggery that tries, too successfully, to pass itself off as honest government.
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