Today’s news includes the introduction of a bill to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. To some it sounds like a great idea, to many more it sounds insane. We know, without doubt, what happens in the absence of a regulatory structure. When environmental protections are removed the profits are taken by corporations and the costs payed by the public in the form of adverse health effects and lowered standards of living. There is absolutely zero evidence that corporations will invest in pollution controls in the absence of regulations and an enforcement mechanism. Sure, the outright elimination of the EPA is overly simplistic and considered a longshot, but the Trump administration and the 115th Congress have shown that they will enact rule changes and sidestep protocols to get their way. So who knows.
It is right in line with today’s statement from Steve Bannon where he touted the importance of Trump’s moves to begin a “deconstruction of the administrative state”, which he pointed out was being achieved through the appointment of individuals from the private sector to key Cabinet positions where they can move to eliminate federal regulations.
I want to rant about how I have been in the environmental protection game for 30 years, and how we have made so much progress toward supporting businesses and away from the old cops v. robbers mentality. We as a nation have spent the past 60 years recovering from unchecked polluters. To unlearn that lesson and take the progress in our public health conditions for granted is a grave mistake.
But I have to point out something more fundamental: This is the same old GOP game where the banks, billionaires, corporations, and political insiders get paid in full and up front. The public is, as always, waiting for something to trickle down. And we know that they used the word “trickle” for a reason. It is important to set expectations as low as possible.
The hypocrisy of the Trump cabal is hidden behind their outrageous acts, their racism and thinly veiled white supremacy, their careless approach to international affairs, and dot dot dot. What I opined about in the days immediately after the election has been exactly the case: generals in all intel, security and civilian military posts; Goldman-Sachs running the financials; Billionaire donors, corporate raiders, and incompetents running the agencies.
Meanwhile the Trumps and their friends will never live in proximity to a water supply polluted by coal waste, or live downwind of a coal plant, or miss a National park turned into a stripmine, or get sick from pipeline spill fumes, or be the victim of a cancer-cluster. Their retirement savings won’t vanish like a fart in the wind when an unregulated bank fails and there is no federal insurance backing it. Their health care is a fraction of a percent of their income, not 35% or more. Their homes are not in danger of repossession when the next mortgage crisis inevitably happens. And the list goes on.
Deeper, the hypocrisy and cynicism is even worse. The talk about the fallacy of global warming is chapter and verse to them. Meanwhile their massive real-estate investments are secured by even more massive reinsurance companies that backstop insurance on expensive waterfront properties like Trump’s beloved Mar Y Lago. Reinsurance companies pioneered climate modeling because it helps them assess risk and more accurately value the assets they were insuring. That applies to coastal properties as well as less obvious locations like Manhattan and San Francisco. They will make sure that the private sector continues to make good use of climate models for covering their asses while the public policy the other 99.9% depends on is prevented from using it on an “idealogical basis”.
Inside every one of Trump’s military, security, and agency picks there is a common thread of private investors getting paid up front. Private prisons working with ICE/CBP, Private education companies under DeVos in the Department of Education, Trump’s own corporation (a massive customer of public housing grants) under Carson at HUD, Law firms lining up to support Pruitt’s dismantling of the EPA, and the list goes on.
As a citizen we are under a type of assault that we have not seen, ever, in world history. Our government is using information bombardment to make sure that nobody can focus adequately on one issue while in a whirlwind. The confusion is being compounded by the Trump administration’s constant attacks on the press, the public’s eyes and ears. This info carpet-bombing is having it’s share of success. Everything from the elimination of PBS to the rising spectre of a nuclear first strike, when a rudderless commander in chief needs an easy solution to a complex problem, are real concerns and all equally possible. Meanwhile we watch as a time-share hustling mobster disassembles the greatest democracy on earth.
The list will continue to go on. It is up to the citizenry of this country to call a spade a spade and demand accountability from our representatives, focus on the issues we know best, and do what we can to make a real difference.