Most Americans should know by now that Republicans despise ‘entitlements’ that they errantly consider is anything Americans receive; even if it is theirs to begin with. They hate the idea of retired Americans receiving their Social Security and Medicare after paying into them their entire working lives, and they hate Americans working at slave-wage jobs receiving nutrition assistance because they earn too little to survive. What they do not hate, and indeed fight ferociously for, are taxpayer-funded entitlements that go to corporations in the form of tax loopholes and particularly entitlements for the oil industry in the form of subsidies.
According to the oil industry, the very idea of ending billions-of-dollars in taxpayer subsidies for the profitable industry is un-American; a position that Republicans embrace with religious passion. However, it is not just Republicans that believe the oil industry deserves to be paid for being a highly-profitable business; the world’s governments are handing outlandish amounts of the population’s money to the industry that is driving the Earth’s climate catastrophe.
In a new and disturbing report from researchers at the International Monetary Fund, the world’s governments are providing subsidies to the highly profitable oil industry to the tune of an astonishing $5.3 trillion in benefits per year. Another way of looking at just how much the world pays the oil industry that bears responsibility for decimating the Earth’s environment; imagine they receive $10 million per minute. That is $10 million every minute, every day, of every month, of every year. Those mind-boggling entitlements have grown over the past couple of decades and are increasing every year.
What that also means is that every minute the world’s population is paying $10 million to help the fossil fuel industry pump climate-changing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. All the while, in America Republicans are either denying that the Earth’s climate is warming, or debating whether global warming is caused by man’s propensity to pump carbon emissions into the atmosphere. If that is not bad enough, Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to preserve America’s billions in oil industry subsidies while crusading to abolish any and all environmental regulations and eliminate efforts to find new and less costly clean energy alternatives. It is true the world’s population will continue depending on fossil fuels for their energy needs long into the future, but that does not mean seeking and developing existing clean and renewable energy sources needs to be put off; particularly when the intent is to create more wealth for the oil industry.
What most Americans may be surprised to learn, if they even care, is that the IMF report revealed that besides the obvious cash “subsidies” being regularly “gifted” to the oil industry of a collective $88 billion from the G-20 nations alone, are the horrific consequences of burning fossil fuels that very few nations, including the Koch-American government, are even willing to address. These are consequences such as the permanent and prohibitively costly health and environmental impacts affecting both local regions such as air and water pollution, and the more dangerous global consequences such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events wreaking havoc on the entire world.
Actually, it is the effects of pouring billions of tons of climate changing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that accounts for nearly three-quarters of the final $5.3 trillion annual figure arrived at by IMF researchers. According to a statement from Benedict Clements representing the IMF’s fiscal affairs department; “While the large size of our new estimates may be surprising, it is important to put in perspective just how many health problems are linked to energy consumption and air quality.” According to conservative estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO), “One in eight global deaths are attributable just to air pollution.” Obviously it does not included the deaths from drought-related food shortages, lack of water, extreme and deadly weather events, or any of the other consequences of anthropogenic global climate change caused by burning fossil fuels. The WHO strongly suggests that even beyond the global climate benefits of the entire world working in concert to eliminate the highly-profitable oil industry’s entitlements, any one nation’s efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground and out of the atmosphere “will carry very significant health and economic benefits at the local level.”
The IMF’s report revealed that ending oil industry entitlements would cut by half the number of deaths attributed to outdoor air pollution alone and save about 1.6 million human lives each year. Besides, the level of money being paid to the oil industry for nothing would be better spent on healthcare, education, and infrastructure improvements and relieve the crushing poverty plaguing third world nations like America and drive robust economic growth. Part of that spending naturally includes investing in more cost-effective and money-saving projects like clean and renewable energy and research and development of more energy-efficient uses for oil and gas.
To his credit, President Obama has made efforts to scale back America’s contribution to destroying the Earth’s climate, and in fact joined Democrats’ one attempt at putting an end to taxpayer-funded entitlements to the oil industry. But this is the Koch brothers’ America and although Republicans will never allow the entitlements to stop flowing to their favorite campaign donors, the President could do much more to alert Americans that while their roads, bridges, hospitals, and schools are crumbling around them, Republicans continue spending taxpayer dollars to bolster the profitable oil industry’s bottom line.
It is noteworthy that although the President did veto the Republican attempt to circumvent his Constitutional authority over the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline, he made peace, at least temporarily, with the Koch brothers and fossil fuel industry by granting them permission to start drilling for oil in the Arctic. Obviously President Obama had a good reason to give big oil more opportunities to wipe out the climate and destroy the pristine Arctic environment, but it is a secret he felt was too dangerous for the American people to learn. He said it was because “we can’t prevent oil exploration completely in the region, so we’re setting the highest possible standards.” However, Americans have witnessed, for far too long, exactly how effective those “highest possible standards” are; especially since the Koch brothers own the federal government.
The President sent a mixed message about his commitment to combat global climate change and committed America to adding to the $5.3 trillion in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry; likely to keep up with other world governments that, like America, will not bother to invest even a fraction of that astounding amount in protecting their population’s health or the environment. If nothing else, it appears that to maintain its status as “exceptional,” America will not be outspent by other governments in providing big oil’s entitlements any more than it will make any significant attempt to combat anthropogenic climate change; not while the Kochs own the government. And make no mistake, the Kochs and big oil do own the government lock, stock, and barrel.
It is a sad state of affairs, but the rest of the world’s population, like the American people, are going to have to come to grips with the tragic fact that they are contributing to the $5.3 trillion annual oil subsidies to destroy the environment and the Earth’s climate whether they like it or not. The lack of outrage in the population informs that obviously, most Americans do like it and that, in itself, is incredibly discouraging.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.