January 7, 2010, 7:10 am
"Patriotism is the last resort of scoundrels”. That quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, is as true today as it was in the time of our founding fathers. When someone is trying to sell the general citizenry on an idea that benefits the seller at the expense of that citizenry, they will often resort to phrasing their sales pitch in terms of the ‘good of the nation'. Whenever you hear something of that nature; put your hand on your wallet and run the other way.
Residents of the southern tier of New York State are now in the crosshairs of such a sales pitch. An ongoing series of television ads are currently running which are trying to tie the idea of domestic production of natural gas to the concept of a patriotic cause. They show ugly “foreign” oil tankers as the cause of our woes, and use the phrase ‘blue sky' to refer to themselves in their pitch. They imply, as a corollary of their pitch, that anyone against drilling for gas under our homes, schools and businesses would be all but a traitor.
In fact, their entire ad campaign is mixture of un-truths and un-stated truths designed to make their greed seem like patriotism. First; most of our “foreign” oil comes from Canada and Mexico, not Jihadist states of the Middle East as implied. Second; while the result of gas drilling might appear to keep the skies ‘blue' (CO2 & Methane are invisible gaseous toxins), the greatest danger caused by gas drilling is out of sight below the ground. It is the poisoning of our water supply!
How do they have the nerve to try and sell the idea that; poisoning their neighbor's water and destroying their neighbor's property value, so that they can get rich, is somehow patriotic? No, it is just plain and simple greed.The huge amount of money the Gassers are spending to convince us of the “patriotism” of their greed tells us how much profit they expect to make. The lack of any true disclosure of the dangers of fracking tells us how morally bankrupt they are. When huge profit (not patriotism) is the motive, you can bet dollars to doughnuts that cheap and dirty will be the modus operandi. When lack of regard for one's neighbor is apparent from the get-go, you can also bet that the Gassers will try and avoid any responsibility for the disastrous consequences of the fracking. They will take their money and run from the polluted environment, the broken infrastructure and the destroyed property value they have caused. No amount of advertising can convince anyone who has thought about the facts of things that the Gassers are the good guys here and those opposed to their greedy schemes are the in the wrong.
The Gassers are the gas corporations and a small number of gas drilling lease holders; less than 10% of the area's population. The rest of us; the victims of their greed, who will not profit a penny in this deal, make up over 90%. In any definition of “democracy” an overwhelming majority has the right to protect themselves from predation by a small minority and their out of the area corporate partners.
The residents of New York City obviously know that eight million citizens have much more of a right to protect their vital resources than do a few lease holders and their Texas and Oklahoma gasmen partners. New York City won't let the Gassers get anywhere near their upstate water supply, and for good reason. Fracking poisons the water with dozens of known toxic chemicals, and can release other toxins from the ground, including radioactive ones.
If the poisoned water from fracking is an obvious danger to the well being and health of the people of New York City, is it not as obvious and dangerous to the well being and health of men, women and children of the of the Southern Tier? You bet your life (perhaps literally) it is!
Real patriotism is the defense and preservation of the liberties and rights we are entitled to as members of a democracy. In a democracy; a vast a majority should not be put in danger and deprived of their rights by a small (but well funded) minority for that minority's sole economic benefit. In a democracy a vast majority of property owning, taxpaying citizens have the ultimate right and liberty to control our own choices of environmental protection, not the political hacks at DEC, locally, or in Albany. The at risk citizenry of the Southern Tier outnumber the Gassers 10 to 1. In a democracy such as ours is designed to be, we the people have the true power, the right and the responsibility to control and protect our essential water resources. Our political leaders had better learn and remember this right now, or they will be replaced by people who do know it, very soon. Protecting the rights and serving the best interest of the vast majority of citizens is how true patriotism is expressed in a real democracy!