[Note: The following editorial will appear in the June issue of the People’s Tribune.]
People’s Tribune Editorial: Nationalize the Energy Industry
May 25, 2010
The catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico makes more clear than ever that we have to nationalize-take over-the giant corporations, including the energy industry, in the interests of the people before the corporations destroy the earth itself with their lust for profits. To do this the people are going to have to get control of the government.
Estimates of the amount of oil pouring into the Gulf each day have ranged from 210,000 gallons up to 2 million gallons. It reportedly takes only one quart of motor oil to make 250,000 gallons of ocean water toxic to wildlife. Scientists say that if the spill is left unchecked it could destroy the world’s oceans and thus threaten all life on earth.
How is it that one corporation is allowed to have such power over the rest of us? Clearly the corporations have merged with the state-the government is nothing more than an instrument in the hands of the corporations. Evidence of this abounds. Countries like Norway and Brazil require deep-sea oil drillers to have in place a $500,000 piece of equipment that helps prevent blowouts like the one that produced the catastrophe in the Gulf. The U.S. government has exempted firms drilling in American waters from this requirement. And in the month following the spill, the government has granted to firms wanting to drill offshore 27 exemptions to the requirement that an environmental impact study be conducted. And when the U.S. Senate recently tried to consider a bill that would have increased the maximum liability for oil companies after an oil spill from the current $75 million to $10 billion, a single senator from an oil-producing state-Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)-was able block the bill.
The oil companies could easily have afforded the $10 billion limit. In the first three months of this year, the top five oil companies amassed $25 billion in profits. (BP, the company in charge of the rig that exploded in the Gulf, had $6 billion in profits in the year’s first quarter.) These oil companies are on the road to make perhaps $100 billion in profits this year. It’s no wonder that they jealously guard their ability to make money, and no wonder that they have the influence that they do.
BP, Halliburton and the banks and investors that finance them have made clear by their actions that they don’t care about their impact on the environment or the future of humanity. All they care about is money and power. The production and distribution of energy is too important and too potentially dangerous to be in private hands. The energy companies cannot even guarantee a reliable supply of energy to us at a price we can afford.
The energy industry has to be nationalized in the interests of the people. Of course this implies that the people must assert their control over the government. With the bailout of the banks and the auto industry, we have already seen that the corporate government that rules our lives is fully ready to nationalize or partially nationalize industries in the interest of the corporations. We need nationalization in the interests of the people. The question that is more and more coming to the fore is, whose interests will the government serve-the corporations or the people?
In the long run, we are fighting to build a new society free of corporate domination, where no one is denied what they need to live and prosper. Nationalization of the giant corporations in the interests of the people-and the related fight to get our government out of corporate hands-is the next step along the path to that new society.
This article originated in the People’s Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 800-691-6888,
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