Carl Gibson / Reader Supported News – 2013-05-05 01:09:17
Question: What Do the US Chamber of Commerce and Al-Qaeda Have in Common?
Answer: Both aren’t above killing people to attain their goals.
(May 4, 2013) — In 2009, Congress considered a bill that would have strengthened safety standards at fertilizer plants like the one that recently exploded in West, Texas, killing dozens of first responders and leveling a nearby middle school and a nursing home 500 yards away.
The 2009 safety regulations were staunchly opposed by the US Chamber of Commerce, multinational corporations’ lobbying arm in Washington. The lobby spent millions to defeat it and labeled it a “key vote” that year. Even though it passed the House, the bill died in the Senate before even getting a vote.
Had those new regulations passed, the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, could have been prevented. But even though the plant dealt in highly-explosive materials like ammonium nitrate, it was only inspected once in its entire history, in 1985.
Corporate lobbies like the US Chamber of Commerce prioritize profits and stock prices above safety of the surrounding community, and vehemently oppose environmental and safety regulations in all instances by spending millions of dollars to influence Congress and support candidates who promise to deregulate anything and everything.
The only problem with deregulating environmental and safety laws for corporations is that it opens the floodgates for environmental disasters and fatal catastrophes. Corporations successfully lobbied to deregulate offshore oil drilling in 2002 and 2003, successfully gaining an exemption from the Bush administration on having to install acoustic switches that would activate blowout preventers on oil rigs.
Oil companies have to abide by that law in every country where they drill, except for the United States. The acoustic switch shuts off oil blowouts at the source, plugging the well before the blowout becomes too large to contain.
Even though it would only cost an additional $500,000 to install, business groups opposed the idea of oil companies posting record profits that year having to pay an extra cost for even such a basic safety measure.
Yet after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf Coast, BP has had to pay out billions of dollars in fines and settlements. Clearly, the business model of hyper-deregulation is costlier not only in terms of dollars spent, but in lives lost, habitats ruined, and entire economies upended.
The explosion in Boston was defined as a terrorist attack, as Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s actions were done with malicious intent and claimed 3 lives while seriously injuring hundreds of others. The two men selfishly chose to end the live of others to make whatever petty point they wanted to make. But the explosion in West, Texas, was also done with malicious intent.
Anyone with half a brain knows that it’s incredibly dangerous for a place that manufactures explosive materials to operate under safety standards that are decades out of date.
The wanton deregulation that inevitably led to that explosion was also done with selfish intent, as the US Chamber of Commerce chose to allow corporations to make more money rather than keep the community safe from harm. By that definition the explosion in West, Texas, was also a terrorist attack.
Corporate terrorists should be pursued just as much as religious extremists who commit terrorist acts. And since the US Chamber of Commerce hasn’t released a statement apologizing to the community of West for their reckless behavior that led to the deaths of dozens, it can be said that they will continue to commit acts of terror for selfish economic gain until they’re indicted for their complicity in manslaughter, if not murder.
Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.
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