Can’t believe a year has gone so quickly!
Last year, on this day, I published the transcript of the Declaration of Independence before Congress on July 4, 1776. Part of one of the comments, left by Patrice Ayme, was this:
That the trust is gone is actually a good thing. We cannot trust a system where a few lead hundreds of millions, if not billions. Even if they come from the People, and especially if they come from the People. Because the less power where they come from, the greedier they are, and thus, the more eager to be bought.
Two thousand years ago, any grouping of a few thousands Germans got enraged when someone would proclaim himself a king. Now people venerate those who think they can do all the thinking in place of billions.
Hence we are facing the reality of a vastly incomplete revolution: Athens, at her apex, had direct democracy (OK, no women, no slaves…). We don’t.
Perhaps, what has changed most in the last year is the realisation, the growing realisation, as to where real power lies.
This highly subjective conclusion comes to me as a result of reading, very recently, two essays.
In the wake of renewed interest in the Keystone Pipeline project and the likelihood that Obama will eagerly approve it unless we stop him, there’s a lot of interest in what actually flows through those pipes.
To answer that question, we need to look at:
All of which produces a great bottom line. Click any of those links to jump to that section.
The primary source, though not the only source, of this information is a great article and slideshow at the Scientific American website. Feel free to click and read as we walk through this material.
It is a thorough and very disturbing explanation of what Keystone XL is truly about; please don’t hesitate to read it in full.
It includes this video:
However, I will republish the closing paragraphs:
SO WHAT FLOWS THROUGH THE PIPES?
If you thought that diluted bitumen, as produced by the upgrading plants, is now capable of flowing through a pipeline to the cash registers in Texas (or wherever), you’d be wrong. Even in diluted form, bitumen doesn’t flow. To make it flow, it has to be heated — often to 150°–160°F — and then forced through the pipelines under high pressure.
So what flows through the pipeline? Keeping those cash registers in mind, you now have all the pieces. Tar sand pipelines contain:
A carbon-rich colloidal suspension …
Made up of lighter-than-water, easily-evaporated toxic liquids (like diesel) …
And heavier-than-water solids (the tar or bitumen itself) that sink to the bottom of rivers and below the mud in fields …
Which has been heated hot enough to burn your hand — or accelerate the external corrosion of the pipeline itself, including pinhole breaks …
Which has been forced to move under high pressure …
And which contains poisons and toxins like sulphur, arsenic, nickel, lead and mercury …
All so megalomaniacal carbon billionaires can make even more money.
That’s what flows through the pipelines. Or to put it more simply:
What flows through the pipes is the unmonetized assets of the try-and-stop-me CEO class, which if it spills, will poison everything it touches for decades or centuries, and if it gets into the air, will turn most of our grandchildren — the ones that survive — into hunter-gatherers.
Bill McKibben counts those unmonetized assets (proven reserves) at $27 trillion dollars. Add in reserves that are likely but not proven, plus the ones in the melting Arctic that are yet to be found, and you’re talking real money. The billionaire class won’t walk away from that in a hurry.
And that, kids, is Science Talk for today. We learned a little about a lot, didn’t we — everything from colloidal suspensions and bitumen “froth,” to billionaire psychopathology and cash registers in Texas. To those of you who got to this end of the post, my thanks!
So hold in mind the reference to the billionaire class as I cross the ‘pond’ to the old country for the second essay.
Recently, George Monbiot published an essay under the title of Robber Barons.
It opened, thus:
Why do we ignore the most blatant transfer of money from the poor to the rich?
It’s the silence that puzzles me. Last week, the Chancellor stood up in parliament to announce that benefits for the very poor would be cut yet again. On the same day, in Luxembourg, our government battled to maintain benefits for the very rich. It won. As a result, some of the richest people in Britain will each continue to receive millions of pounds in income support from taxpayers.
There has been not a whimper of protest. The Guardian hasn’t mentioned it. UK Uncut is silent. So – at the other end of the spectrum – is the UK Independence Party.
I’m talking about the most blatant transfer of money from the poor to the rich that has occurred in the era of universal suffrage. Farm subsidies. The main subsidy – the single farm payment – is doled out by the hectare. The more you own or rent, the more money you receive.
Later on mentioning:
The minister responsible for cutting income support for the poor, Iain Duncan Smith, lives on an estate owned by his wife’s family. Over the past ten years, it has received €1.5m in income support from taxpayers.
How much more obvious do these double standards have to be before we begin to notice?
Then Mr. Monbiot examines some of the cultural aspects such as how “A high proportion of the books aimed at very young children are about farm animals.” then closes with this thought.
Whatever the reason may be, it’s time we overcame these inhibitions and confronted this unembarrassed robbery of the poor by the rich. The current structure of farm subsidies epitomises the British government’s defining project: capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich.
So examples from both sides of The Atlantic that reveal deeply disturbing issues. However …….
I celebrate America this day. I celebrate the power of the common man to achieve justice and fairness for the peoples of all nations. I celebrate the Constitution of the United States of America.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.