Saturday, July 17, 2010

Are jobs more important than health?

Louisiana governor Booby Bobby Jindal published an op-ed piece in The Washington Post today.  Commenting on President Obama's moratorium on deep-water offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, he wrote:
This ill-advised and ill-considered moratorium, which a federal judge called "arbitrary" and "capricious," creates a second disaster for our economy, throwing thousands of hardworking folks out of their jobs and causing real damage to many families.
Uh, yeah: "arbitrary."  A decision to do something relatively timid, compared to what really ought to be done, to help ensure that the environmental and social disaster that just actually happened in the Gulf doesn't repeat itself is "arbitrary."

What Jindal's complaint reminds me of is the argument about tobacco and jobs. We know tobacco products kill people, and not just those who actually use them, by the way. But, we can't just stop growing them, because all those tobacco farmers would lose their "traditional way of making a living." Well, you know what: If your "traditional way of making a living" is bad for people and the planet, you should be told to find another way to make a living.

That applies to tobacco farmers, whose "traditional way of making a living" feeds an addiction that makes people sick and dead, and it also applies to people who "make a living" by drilling into deep water to extract oil to feed our other major addiction.

Of course, I'm not saying that either tobacco farmers or oil workers should simply be thrown on the landfill of history. Surely we, the richest country in the world, could simply pay all these folks to not grow tobacco or drill for oil.

1 comment:

  1. Tobacco is only so dangerous because the cigarettes we manufacture are laden with dangerous additives and chemicals--so much so that the majority of the cigarette is something other than plant material. Combustion and smoke inhalation can attribute to cancer and disease, but personally I think all the fillers added are the real culprits.

    This leads to another point... It isn't necessarily the tobacco or the oil that is the problem. It is the people taking little to NO responsibility for the consequences of manufacturing and selling such products. When will corporations (which are considered people in our judicial system/laws) be held accountable?
    BP should have received so much backlash they went out of business. Instead our own government is helping to conceal the vast scope of damages done to the Gulf (and its ecosystems) and the extreme loss of sea and avian life.
    Leaders of industry are not babies, therefor they should not act helpess and blame others for their reckless business practices. It's a very lose lose situation right now because I feel there is a strong attitude of infallibility amongst those with influence in business and politics.
    It's time for some personal responsibility and genuine effort on everyone's part. :)


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