Errant Eye 8/28: Battle for Most Corrupt – ExxonMobil, Dick Cheney and IU’s Haydn Murray

pollution from smoke stacksTitle Correction: “Haydn White” should be “Haydn Murray”.

(Update to #6 below)

This morning’s news round-up from the across the Web:

1) One can only hope Dick Cheney travels outside of the country and is detained by a country who believes in laws and treaty agreements.  Cheney has not only committed every war crime in the book, but he boasts of it in this New York Times article.  Do you really wonder why banksters and Wall Streeters, and CEOs and local government politicians break the law?  No one is accountable.  Only the underclass go to prison, i.e. drug users and people with brown skin primarily.

2) At the beginning of an online video segment about the Cheney book, I was confronted with a brazenly false promo by Exxon Mobil about “Tar Sands.”  This is classic industry propaganda and in 30 seconds it packs an amazingly deceitful punch.  I was planning to discuss it, but ThinkProgress already has.  This is the shit that keeps us on the superhighway to planetary doom.  Thank you Exxon for continuing to prove how awful Corporate Capitalism really is.

Each year, the cost to civilization of each added ton of carbon dioxide increases. Exploiting the Canadian tar sands to fuel ExxonMobil’s profits would be suicidal…

And this just in (also from ThinkProgress): Michele Bachman, should she be elected Supreme Leader, would abolish the EPA (I think Ron Paul would too, just so you know).

3) Speaking of EPA-hating, today’s HT offers a guest column by Haydn H. Murray, professor emeritus, Indiana University Department of Geological Sciences, in which the “enormous cost” of environmental regulation is the MOST “significant reason” that (nameless, blameless) investors “lack confidence” in the economy.  Good gravy, this may be a better piece of agitprop than the ExxonMobil environmental rape advert.  Apparently business leaders don’t want to pay for the cost of making energy less dirty, toxic, and damaging.  Shocker.  He goes so far as calling EPA regulation a “tax on fossil fuels”…oh my heavens!  Can you believe it, a tax on fossil fuels!  Dastardly.  One of my favorite arguments in the piece has to do with the fact that EPA is lowering the acceptable “parts per billion” limit on “smog-forming ozone”.  I’ll let Murray speak for himself:

The reality is many U.S. counties are already struggling to meet the current standard of 75 parts per billion, which was set in 2008. Lowering the ozone standard again would push 565 new counties into non-attainment status under the Clean Air Act, the Congressional Research Service said

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. Counties in that predicament are not eligible for federal highway money and certain other government funds.

So the argument is, it’s too hard already!  The argument further contends that the government shouldn’t regulate us in a way that makes our non-compliance actually have meaningful consequences.  And who does this hack think the “nanny state” serves?

Not a single stinking word in this awful tripe about actual ENVIRONMENTAL impacts of this horribly destructive and life-damning industry.  Is this shill for hire?  Oh, wait, he is. I unearthed this online from MinTech International:

Haydn H. Murray, elected to National Academy of Engineering, USA ,and also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of MinTech International, Inc., is an internationally renowned expert in the industrial minerals field. Dr. Murray brings many years of experience in industrial minerals and business operations to MinTech International, Inc. He was professor of geology at Indiana University for more than twenty-five years and served as Chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences for twelve years. He was president of AIPEA (International Clay Minerals Society) from 1993 to 1997. At Georgia Kaolin Company (then the largest kaolin company in the United States) from 1957 to 1973 he held senior positions in research and operations and served as Executive Vice President from 1964 to 1973. The numerous honors and awards that he has received have shown that he is and has been a key figure in the world industrial minerals areas.

Man, that was a real surprise.  Hey, HT Editorial Board, do you guys not require relevant disclosures?  This seems like a pretty big omission.

4) We discussed the Missouri law that limited communication between teachers and student via social media tools like Facebook.  Well, Missouri’s education “Facebook ban” has been blocked by the court. From an article in The News Tribune:

The judge said the teachers’ lawsuit had a good likelihood of success. His order noted that social networking sites are used extensively by teachers and that the law would have restricted online communications even between family members in which teachers are parents.

“The breadth of the prohibition is staggering,” Beetem wrote in his order, which blocks the law until Feb. 20 so that a hearing on a permanent injunction can be held.

The judge’s order specifically assures teachers that they cannot be disciplined for engaging in private online communications with students while the injunction is in effect – even if it is later overturned.

5) From the HT, fines on local drunk college students actually fund up over 1/3 of the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office!  This is called “pretrial diversion” (PDP) which loosely translates as a “shakedown,” right?  In essence, coppers nab city and university sanctioned drunks (hey, city businesses serve them, right?) and then say, “Hey, we’ll keep your record clean if you pay us a fine.” This happens up to three times before the law gets “serious.”

Nearly 40 percent of the money that funds the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office comes from fees paid by offenders, most of them Indiana University students, who consume alcohol in violation of the law.

The Pretrial Diversion Program allows alcohol offenders to pay hundreds of dollars and attend a substance abuse class to keep from getting a criminal conviction. The program, which also serves people charged with misdemeanor crimes such as disorderly conduct and trespass, contributed $835,217 to this year’s budget for the prosecutor’s office. The county general fund included another $1,404,566.

“It’s unsavory to think a prosecutor’s office is forced to operate in large part on money it makes on people they prosecute,” said Bob Miller, chief deputy prosecutor, who was Monroe County’s elected prosecutor from 1987 through 1994. “Yes, it’s alcohol-based.”

Many consider Bloomington a beer-and-liquor-saturated college town. Hordes of students spill out onto the streets after the bars’ 3 a.m. closing time, and more than half of all arrests in Monroe County — 54 percent last year — are rooted in alcohol, drugs or both.

This is corrosive at best.  Basically the Prosecutor’s Office MUST arrest and fine students in order to operate.  So, one assumes that at least tacitly they have to allow serving to minors in order to fund their office and their paychecks.

The article in the HT basically offers stats and details of the program (PDP) but fails to ask the most important question: isn’t there “conflict” of interest here by creating a budget necessity out of this program? Doesn’t this encourage, in fact promote, excessive consumption to the benefit of the local business community, the Prosecutor’s office, BUT not the student’s health or well-being?  In this way, those charged to protect and serve are only protecting and serving a destructive social habit as well as their bottom-line.

An HT commenter asks, “Why wasn’t the elected County Prosecutor Chris Gaal interviewed?”  A great question!  Maybe the Kelly School of Business thinks the PDP just makes good business sense.

6) Recall our recent post (Right to Work Legislation: Same Shit, Different Country) discussing the constant and democracy-damaging destruction of labor rights in this country?  Since the early 1900s the business class has been offering propaganda about what it means to be “free” in America–free to make a profit off of labor abuses, for one thing–but basically it means that business should be “free” do to whatever it wants to take money out of your pocket.  Well, here’s a recent piece from Vox on how unemployment can be tied to weakened labor positions and management cuts to benefit shareholders.  It’s long and detailed.  But in effect it seems to me to point to a very clear strategy by our Corporate Government.  Increase unemployment while Corporations continue to “recover” and profit and get stronger; by weakening labor, not just attacking unions but attacking the very existence of work, Corporate USA can wait, wait, wait, until labor, READ as CITIZENS, is on its knees and begging for hourly wage jobs with zero benefits.  I’d go so far as to say it won’t be long before there is no longer a federal minimum wage requirement.

**Update: perhaps this from Truthout on Capitalism’s New Era is more readily absorbed.



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  1. Douglas Storm August 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Bob Miller, Chief Deputy Prosecutor responds to comments at the HT Online:

    I thought I was being pretty clear in the story when I expressed our displeasure with being placed in the position of relying more and more on pdp revenues to operate our office. Thus my use of the word “unsavory” in describing the situation.

    For those who have written here that they believe there’s something wrong with how the money is handled: all pdp fees are collected by the clerk and deposited into a fund that is under the control of the auditor. It can only be disbursed by approval of the county council. There are no bonuses being paid to anyone. The State Board of Accounts routinely audits the fund.

    Some additional additions/corrections to the story:

    1. All pdp participants are required to perform community service through the Community Corrections department road crew picking up trash.

    2. The prosecutor’s office has no involvement in the alcohol education or treatment aspects of the program. The probation department handles the education component and only licensed professionals are permitted to administer any treatment which frequently includes an Intensive Outpatient Program for those with extremely high alcohol levels and repeat customers.

    3. Only 6 individuals out of 1750 during the period under review were permitted to stay in the program after a third citation. These were all instances where the individual had successfully completed the program once, came back to us on a second citation and caught a third while still in the program. It is not routine that such individuals would be permitted to stay in the program, but if they are involved in intensive treatment and have already been diagnosed with a substance abuse problem, we try to address that issue in the program rather than simply give up, much like probation would do.

    4. We do not view this program as a “cash cow” for our office. On the contrary, we are deeply concerned about what may happen once the surplus in the fund is depleted, most likely in 2013. We believe it is a serious mistake to force our office to rely on this revenue to cover our office operating expenses to the degree we are. The pdp program costs very little to operate, but we are currently relying on the revenue to the tune of 40% of our overall budget. That is not only “unsavory” it is unsustainable.

    5. The pdp program is not just for “rich college students”. Anyone who is eligible is permitted in the program. The fee is waived for those who are truly indigent (not IU students with working parents).

  2. dpopp August 29, 2011 at 9:50 am

    And they say academia is filled with anti-business left wingers.

    1. Douglas Storm August 29, 2011 at 10:52 am

      It’s a sad state of affairs…take a look at any University program that offers up “white papers” on “policy” and you’ll see more often than not a “business” agenda rather than a “human” focus.

      But, I think I’ll expand on the Murray aspect as a brief review of Climate Change Deniers who are “professional” or “academic” scientists (not that there is much of a difference–unless we use “applied” and “theoretical”) seems to uncover the detail that many of these are “economic geologists”…hmmm…fossil fuels anyone?

  3. Pingback: Denial Strata: Economic Geologists and Corporate Industrial Fabrications

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