Magicians perform their illusions by fooling us into focusing on the wrong things. Many politicians are fans of that technique.
Subscribers to the notion that you can fool most of the people all of the time, crafty politicians employ sleight of tongue to talk about issues in ways that lure segments of a naïve electorate to buy whatever they are peddling. By convincing listeners that an issue is political when it is in fact deeply personal, they win over more than 50 percent of their audience without a struggle.
If, as politicians argue, drilling in the Atlantic serves a vital national interest, why did USA Today report on June 10 that, thanks to the American oil glut, “There were 750 crude oil rigs operating in the U.S. in April, down from 1,596 in October,” and that nearly 100,000 energy-related jobs had been lost?
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Ignore, also, the American Petroleum Institute’s lobbying effort on behalf of selling our excess crude oil abroad, and the Senate’s Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015 (S.1312) endorsing that proposal.
One conspicuous example of the politicians’ tactics is their effort to distract us from the reality that offshore drilling is a purely local issue. Here is a short list of the reasons why this issue is all about us.
- The drill-baby-drillers proclaim: “We must strive for energy independence.” Because even casual newspaper readers are aware that energy independence is assured in the near future without endangering South Carolina’s coastal communities, this falsehood is so hollow it echoes when argued.
- They claim: “More petroleum means lower gas prices.” They are well aware that the oil reserves in the Atlantic are but a drop in the bucket of national consumption, and an oil company CEO who sold his product for less than the market price would be fired.
- They allege: “Offshore drilling means more jobs for South Carolina.” But they know full well that only a handful of qualified oil technicians call the Palmetto State home, so we have little prospect of landing well-paying jobs.
Successful chicanery requires that would-be magicians be better than this at fooling their audience.
Why do politicians do this? Will oil company lobbyists line their pockets with $50 bills? No way. Too risky.
What these lobbyists will do is help supportive politicians retain their seats by dropping those fifties into their PAC’s coffers.
While this falls a millimeter short of the formal definition of a bribe, it is a powerful inducement to help a politician decide about offshore drilling. How would you counter if you wanted the same politician to decide this issue in line with your views?
If you are unable to answer, don’t fret; after money, there is no known second option.
Finally, think about this: A recently published, research-challenged individual maintains that wiping out home values via an oil spill is preferable to having one’s house destroyed by a hurricane. Truth be told, in the event of a hurricane, if you are insured, your flattened home could be rebuilt in less than 12 months. There is no such thing as crude-oil insurance, so your home’s value, after a moderate spill defaces our coast, is unlikely to recover in your lifetime.
If you wish to risk oil-blackened beaches for yourself and your coastal neighbors, the law allows you to advocate for the interests that may destroy you financially. But don’t try to convince yourself that you have thought through this issue, that you are about to be awarded cheap gas, or that you feel good about your patriotism. Instead, to remain focused on what is most important, paste this note on your refrigerator: I am allowed by law to sue to recover the loss on my home value when crude oil washes ashore.
If you find that comforting, ask your Realtor what percent of the loss you might recover.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.