By FRANK CARINI
Hi. My name is America, and I am addicted to wastefulness and unsustainability. I am a habitual offender of crimes against nature.
I need help desperately, but I don’t know where to turn.
Uncle Sam continues to enable me for the benefit of special interests, powerful lobbyists and big industry.
He looks the other way when Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Pepsi indiscriminately pump vast amounts of water from aquifers, pour it into petroleum-based plastic bottles and advertise the liquid as the nectar of gods. He doesn’t mind that his friends sell my water back to me at a considerable profit so I can continue to feed my addictions.
He smiles when his buddy Tom Brennan, one of 11 natural resource managers for Nestlé Waters North America, issues a press release that reads: “Our natural spring water is special. It’s a gift from nature. We work really hard to find it, and really hard to manage it. We’re proud to help bring it to the public to drink.”
He nods in agreement when another of his water-bottling buddies blames dam-building beavers for diminishing water supplies. He tells me to stop watering my lawn.
He won’t let me marry whom I want, makes me take off my shoes before boarding a plane and watches what books I check out of the library. But he so trusts his water-bottling buddies and their lobbyist pals that only one FDA babysitter is required to regulate the nearly 30 billion bottles of water I buy annually.
He leaves it up to me, though, to fund the collection of these plastic bottles, because his friends don’t want to pay the penny or two per bottle it would cost to better keep the water vessels they mass-produce out of landfills and waterways.
Crotchety Uncle Sam blames gay and lesbian couples for ruining the fabric of society, and makes it illegal for many of them to get married and virtually impossible for them to adopt one of my kids.
In fact, he’s so concerned about my kids’ health that some of his bailed-out Wall Street buddies — Goldman Sachs, Citigroup — were among the first to get doses of the swine flu vaccine, even as a shortage of doses led to lengthy lines at clinics and hospitals.
He shows little concern about coal-fired power plants owned by his fossil-fuel friends that emit 48 tons of mercury a year. For decades he has allowed a small circle of corporate connections to pillage Appalachia with mountaintop removal mining.
He employs scare tactics when I consider making life changes, such as sending minion Tom Price, a Republican representative from Georgia, to deliver a passionate plea for the House to rise in a moment of silence to recognize those who will lose their jobs if the American Clean Energy and Security Act (Waxman-Markey Bill) passes.
How can I treat my addictions when Uncle Sam exploits them to make his friends rich, and to get himself elected?
Help. My name is America, and I am an addict.
Frank Carini is the editor of ecoRI News.