After seeing a headline by David Suzuki “Trading Water for Fuel is Fracking Crazy,” I started thinking about all of the trade-offs we’re being asked to make. Yes, as Suzuki points out, we are being asked to trade the purity of fresh water in our aquifers that took hundreds and thousands of years to accumulate for the profits of gas and oil companies through the use of toxic chemicals for fracking.
And that’s only one of the trade-offs we’re being asked to make in order to benefit big business.
We’re being asked to trade the beauty of the Appalachians and the area’s pristine waters for the profits of the coal industry through the use of mountaintop removal mining. We’re asked to trade the natural taste and nutrition of fresh fruits and vegetables for the profits of Monsanto, Walmart and large agribusiness companies by allowing the increased use of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) seeds. We’re asked to trade the effectiveness of life-saving antibiotics by allowing large cattle feeders, hog growers and poultry growers to increase profits by adding antibiotics to animal feeds.
In order to increase profits for manufacturers, we’re asked to purchase products made overseas that could be made by workers in the US. So that large corporations can pay employees less than a liveable wage, we are asked to help their employees with food stamps, child care and other safety net programs. In order to increase the profits of corporations, we are asked to lower their income taxes and increase ours. In order to help billionaires avoid paying income taxes, we are asked to give them a large array of tax breaks, including greatly reduced capital gains taxes.
And, in what is probably the most questionable trade-off of all, we are asked to ignore the very real long-term consequences of climate change for the short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry.
All of these trade-offs and their consequences are avoidable. We simply need the will to change the way we allow corporations to operate. We should demand that they pay for all of the costs of their actions. And that the cost of government subsidies, including the costs to our environment and our health, be included in corporate expenses.
In other words, if corporations truly are people as the US Supreme Court has ruled, we should hold them accountable for their actions.