To the editor,
Of all the CEOs who epitomize the corporate greed driving Occupy Wall Street, Chesapeake Energy’s Aubrey McClendon is the poster child. Pulling down 112.5 million in 2010, McClendon is the 1% who owes his mega-wealth to fracking. Drill baby, drill! EPA? Just some job-killing Communist government agency. How do we know? Governor Corbett—who only got a million from the fracking folks in campaign donations—says so. The Clean Drinking Water Act? Just some leftie tree-hugger policy designed to kill Pennsylvania’s status as a card-holding member of the cancer belt.
The markets and the banks love Mr. McClendon, the Keystone XL pipeline builders do too (who needs the Endless Mountains?). Chesapeake’s investors couldn’t love him more. Trouble is, few of these folks number in the other 99% of the working citizenry, and as it’s the rest of us who have to live with the consequences of fracking—but don’t have the “leverage” to buy fancy things like governors, lobbyists, and congress-people—we don’t have the same say as the 1%. So thank GOD for Citizens United—it relieves us of having any kind of responsibility in those pesky election cycles. We can just stay home, watch “Survivor,” and wait for the landmen to come and offer us pocket change to frack our land, destroy our aquifers, and make McClendon richer. We can say “NO!” But thanks to section 602 of Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas Act and the prospect of forced pooling, we won’t even have THAT. Maybe it’s a brilliant Koch brother strategy: kill property values, the tax base, the funding for public education and you kill public education. Ignorance: A GREAT recipe for silent acquiescence.
All this seems odd for a democracy. In fact, it seems at odds with the very idea of a democracy—although you’d never know it from the cater-walling of the Tea Party who, trampling each other to see who can demonize the protesters the most viciously, cast the 99%-ers as the sorts of folks, say Iraq War veterans, who deserve to be whacked unconscious and bleeding from skull fractures by police hurling tear gas canisters. The police, of course, are the 99%, and so is nearly everybody suckered into the Tea Party—except its Koch brother/Freedom Works underwriters. The Tea Partiers don’t seem to know that the right to freedom of expression—including peaceful protest—applies to other folks. They’d shut down Occupy Wall Street—and believe they weren’t shutting down themselves. Suggested PA-TP posters: Frack me! Set my tap water aflame! Frack me! My kids ain’t too good to breathe frack-fluid de-icer by the bus stop! Frack me! Gotta die from something, how about cancer? Frack me! Education’s a Commie-Plot!
The real violence isn’t Occupy Wall Street; it’s the insane notion that a 275% escalation for the wealthiest 1% since 1979 compared to 16% for the bottom 20% is consistent with democracy. The real crime is the theft of the American dream from the folks who work for it; treating social security as if it were a handout not labored long and hard to save, gutting public education as if the future isn’t worth it—fracking the earth as if we could go out and buy a new one. The real tragedy is that the folks most likely to be ditched by the 1% are the ones humping for Glenn Beck—who calls people exercising their right to free speech “un-American.” Plain and simple: OCCUPY WALL STREET. And while you’re at it, tell Mr. McClendon you’ve had it with his soiling his industry’s pants down your well. OCCUPY WELL STREET.
Wendy Lynne Lee | Professor of Philosophy, Bloomsburg University