Oil & GreeceMay 27th, 2010

The economic disaster in Greece and the ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are both directly attributable to corrupt government, and both will eventually hurt vast numbers of bystanders. Not necessarily innocent bystanders, but certainly not the parties responsible for the corrupt practices that caused the harm.

In Greece, government officials allowed lenders to collude with government borrowers to understate the size of the debts being contracted. With each new advance, bankers, lawyers, and political patrons pocketed a cut of the proceeds, When assets everywhere lost value a couple of years ago, the Greek government got hassled by its creditors, and the truth about the size of the debt eventually slipped out.

As usually happens in cases of insolvency, Greece couldn’t make its payments without more credit. To keep Greece out of bankruptcy–for now–the functioning national economies of Europe–all two of them–had to cough up, and Greek workers had to accept layoffs, pay cuts and tight credit to make the payments. The financiers and corrupt officials who profited from the credit bubble get to keep their spoils.

In the Gulf of Mexico, government officials allowed offshore oil prospectors to conspire with environmental protection enforcers to relax regulation. In exchange, the enforcers and their facilitators got wined, dined and sexed by oil industry prostitutes. So pervasive was the corruption that Barack Obama himself refers to “a culture” in the Minerals Management Service that made it immune to reform, despite the election of a new president and Congress.

So relaxed was the regulation, under Obama as under his predecessor, that companies like British Petroleum were allowed to drill at unprecedented depths without proper safeguards against releases. Of course, there was an accident, and it’s hard to look at the video of it without losing hope for the future of your grandkids. One person got fired, but most of the people who gained from offshore oil get to keep their profits.

Neither event came as a surprise to serious analysts. In Greece (as everywhere else), only idiots and crooks maintained that the inflation of monetary value that supported all that borrowing could go on indefinitely. The crooks and idiots were in charge, however, and the Greek people didn’t hear much about the bubble and what might happen at pop-time.

Here in the USA, even in the corrupt Minerals Management Service there were voices that warned against the manifest risk of offshore drilling at extreme depths. The oil industry didn’t allow them to be heard, and neither did the Obama adminstration. As for our media, they routinely censor news critical of major advertisers like BP. The risk to humanity of deepwater drilling was suppressed accordingly. Still is.

Assuming that the gusher in the gulf hasn’t done enough damage already to cause mass extinctions, including us, what should people be doing? Greeks took to the streets for a few days and went home. Americans, who blend cowardice with conservatism in a way that keeps them home at all costs, prefer to fret over stuff they can’t do anything about, like discontented Arabs and other people’s wombs. Governments don’t pay attention to protesters anyway, except to gas them and beat them every so often.

As a last resort, Americans might try to organize locally and by state, as if there were an election coming. Oh, yeah, there is an election coming. I haven’t heard a candidate talk about Greece or Oil and what to do about them. That’s because political candidates don’t know what to do. We take this for granted, knowing, as we do, that the strategy of Pubs and Crats is to select people who have no firm convictions and no fixed notions of any kind. People who can be molded. They know only what they need to know, and they don’t know how to deal with big bad debt or big bad pollution.

Stuffing politicians into the hole in the bottom of the sea won’t help, but it’s probably not too late to recruit candidates who can unseat the current office-holders–all of them–and bring rogue government and its racketeering officials and naive facilitators to justice. Pubs and Crats won’t do it, so it’s up to the people to find new leaders who will.

I’ve bet heavily on people to take up this challenge by making myself a candidate. If the voters of Connecticut have the guts to elect me as their attorney general, I’ve pledged to cause heartburn to some people in the federal government who deserve it. I know that running for office is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. You should do it, too, or find someone who will.