Legislative news came out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, last month touting a budget that, good or bad, finally passed. Because money rules more effectively than people, the way in which legislators spend tax dollars often has a greater impact on society than the laws they pass. Thus, the budget really matters.
The one just passed favors more fossil-fuel infrastructure and strips away funds to fix fossil-fuel problems.
It includes, for example:
- A provision that bans government from banning single-use plastic (for now).
- Encouragement for small water and wastewater “authorities” to expand, boosting suburbia’s gateway drug to development.
- The withholding of funds to maintain Pennsylvania state parks and forests despite serious hazards like dying ash trees.
Moreover, a perplexing amount of juggling of dollars from one fund to another has been done, all of which teeters on a major balancing point: raided environmental stewardship funds.
Beyond the budget, the Senate passed a bill to the House to amend an important clean water law. It potentially puts polluters in charge of policing their own mistakes (and crimes). It’s a another drop among a relentless flood.
Story after story, decision after decision, and vote after vote, all the bad news comes down to a single problem: humanity thinks the earth can be sold. Plastic is oil in solid form. Development is nature converted. Poorly maintained parks are an opening for the propaganda of industrial thieves.
The planet — filled with billions of species, all of which represent life, all of which support life, the concentration of which is represented in every fossil — is for sale. Except the buyers don’t pay a thing. Instead they invest in the machinery which makes the taking more productive so that the transfer from “natural resource” to wealth – resources that took eons to build – happens quickly enough for the “riches” to be enjoyed before the middle-aged profiteer gets too old to brag.
Chopped, dug, drilled, extracted, mined, pumped, shipped, and stored. These are the actions of greed. Nothing is given in return except destructive toxic waste that is swept, bailed, loaded, trucked, and dumped with the same placidity given to the paper margins laying on the money-printing floor. Every effort, in or out, is considered an expense – a liability that reduces an asset – and every delay is counted through a reduction in profit. The end goal is for all of the earth to be chucked as quickly as possible into the accountant’s funnel, dripping the abundance of life into the operator’s pocket.
I once heard Mark Maron, the eccentric podcaster, observe, “We are gleefully enabling the singularity.” He was talking about internet technology, but his words also fit this bill. We, being the indirect beneficiaries of their mad scheme, fill the funnel when we buy what comes out. We do it when we vote for politicians who campaign on the lie that planet-robbing is necessary for jobs. We buy it when we let legislators convince us that we must do this to maintain our high standard of living. Then we buy it again when we let them say the only way to improve our low condition is to extract the mineral to make the concrete to build the dam to control the river that lost its floodplain to mining. Every waterway a concrete channel, every mountaintop a stripped-away replant, every forest a pipeline right-of-way, every community a high density development, and every road a three-lane highway: We are gleefully enabling the singularity, whether we’re happy about it or not.
Like most who care, I wrongfully associate the acquisition of wealth with the greed in the headlines and lies. I must change this; I must improve my relationship with money. Because, that which I do not attain remains in circulation for gluttons. Sure, I am rich without money, but better that I have the financial tool to increase the standard of richness to a level that uplifts us all.
What I will never do, however, is act like I’m rich as defined by their terms, no matter how much money I have. I will hang my laundry outside to dry, let the weeds grow in my yard, and use the manual tools that serve me well.
As a result, my clothes smell like fresh air, the bees have something to collect, and my physical strength remains. Money will never stop me from acting on the truth that the best things in life on this planet ARE free, and they can be taken and enjoyed without being sold. I vow to always give an equal measure of gifts in return, to bring the balance sheet total to zero, no complication or sacrifice necessary.
Further, when I hang my shirt in the sun, let the white clover grow, and push the pedals to get around, I am pulling the plug on the machine that sells chemical fragrance, herbicide, and gasoline. I am not the enemy who steals jobs, as they want me to believe, because I am not the one who has hinged our economy on this obscenity. Life is designed around an earth that gives as well as takes, and so that is how I shall design my life. None of us would be suffering so if we were to synchronize with Earth’s rhythm, our giving consisting of stuff (appreciation, awareness, gratitude) of far more value than some “hard earned” cash.
Pull the plug, please. Now. You don’t have to march on Washington if you’re afraid. There is a much easier, soft-spoken way. Simply stop feeding the advocates of pollution legislation.
- Stop believing that natural gas is an alternative.
- Stop buying plastic.
- Stop dumping repairable assets.
- Stop acquiring sparkly, wasteful things.
- Stop taking employment from thieves.
- Always speak up, even if it’s a whisper into your child’s ear: “Earth is not for sale.”
Protect our water … your water, my water, life’s water. Protect our air … your air, my air, life’s air.
And if you ARE a warrior, fight. Be the voice that cannot speak. Admit loudly to the world that you believe there are more important attainments than dominance and power. And give the politicians a reason to vote in your favor by standing in their faces when the vote comes.
Abandon the singularity of consumption and return the energy to the earth and her fossils so she can live to give another day. Otherwise the sand into which you want to stuff your head will soon be mined away. I don’t care how shy, how in despair, how fed up you are with all of this, you cannot turn away. That is unless you’re okay with the machine selling your planet, one bad decision at a time.