Saturday, September 24, 2005

Favoring Big Business Over People, Again

In case you haven't noticed by now, and you're an idiot if you haven't, just about everything the Republicans do benefits big business in one way or another, usually at the expense of the rest of us. The most obvious way is through tax policy, as former President Clinton pointed out last Sunday: "If you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up...then that's a consequence of the decision made." But tax breaks aren't the only way they're doing it.

Let's take a short tour through the Bush legacy on the environment. His first act was to allow the construction of logging roads in the National Forests, a practice banned by the Clinton EPA to slow the growth of logging the public forests for private profit. Who gains from more logging on public land? The millions that want to enjoy pristine forest land which belongs to all, or the few companies that reap huge profits from selling what doesn't belong to them?

Then, Dick Cheney brings together a "task force" of current and former oil company executives to craft a new energy policy for the nation. No independent scientists were asked for their input. The final recommendation: Drill more oil, especially in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Who benefits from this?

After that, it was the Kyoto Treaty on global warming. Despite the pleas of a vast majority of scientists, Bush (the baseball-team owner) insists that there's no good evidence for warming, so there's no reason for the United States (by far the biggest single contributor of greenhouse gases) to enter such a treaty. Who gains from this? Is it the people of New Orleans and Texas being pounded by increasingly strong hurricanes, or the farmers facing the fact that the breadbasket is moving north as drought becomes more common, or the residents of coastal cities dealing with higher sea levels as glaciers melt? No, it's the polluters who gain, huge corporations that now don't have to spend a few dollars (out of their billions in profits) to control the emissions that are literally destroying the world for the rest of us.

Now, the EPA wants to relax the "Community Right-to-Know" rules, by which companies that handle dangerous substances have to report yearly on how many pollutants are stored and have been released. Up to now, releases of under 500 pounds in a year were okay. Now, the Republicans want a change to allow the release of 5,000 pounds without reporting it. Instead of reporting every year, the proposed change allows companies to make reports every other year. Who benefits from this? Parents who want some safeguards against greedy companies poisoning their children to save money? Nope. Once again, big business is the big winner.


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