Circle of Hope was rather well-represented at the anti-fracking rally last Wednesday. I suppose we are one of the few employers who assume employees will be unavailable during protest hours.
Natural gas drilling in coal-country shale is a proven way to contaminate water. People who live nearby a site have already lost their wells. Numerous people up and down the Delaware River basin are sure it will contaminate the sources of water for millions of people. The more radical among these (like most of my friends, I think) want the whole process to be banned and the government tax breaks given to green energy, or to children in Africa, or to Philly schools, or to anyone but the corporations who have the inside track on making sweetheart deals with the government on the backs of desperate people who will say yes to anything for a way to deal with their imminent foreclosure.
Here is a positive explanation of fracking by Chesapeake Energy Co. [link]
One of the things I found fascinating about the protest was the interaction between the groups. The people staring out the Convention Center window had a lot to say about the protesters and they didn’t mind the reporters hearing them. Aubrey McClendon, the head of Chesapeake Energy said the “extremists” outside would turn the clock back to the Dark Ages (when, I suspect, McClendon would have been adept with a broadsword). “Our success has disrupted their dreams of a fantasy world of no fossil fuels.” [Inquirer article]
That statement is what makes me want to write this post. On the one hand, I admire it because such a broadsword statement is an effective way to change the subject. The bigger the lie, the harder it is to refute. I am not sure you can be a CEO or a Republican candidate unless you have mastered this technique. Let’s see if I can explain how it works.
1) There has to be some basis for saying what you say. In this case, it is true that people (like me) dream of a world in which people use their brains and money to produce things that don’t destroy the planet. It is true that our demands will destroy whole industries, like Chesapeake Energy (based in Oklahoma City, which is very near the Dallas Cowboys). It is true that we don’t care if the industries are destroyed. We are extreme like that.
2) But a good broadsword statement has to change the subject from whatever rational thing your opponent might be saying. The point is to make them look bad before you are looped into an actual dialogue that could cost you profit or power. For instance, it is obvious that the main point of the Shale Outrage protesters is not about some la-la land future. It is an argument about the science and the politics of huge, irresponsible corporations exploiting the land and poor people. They want Chesapeake energy to prove that they are not going to poison everyone. They think it would also be nice, as former governor Ed Rendell suggests, that they pay some taxes.
3) In summary, when you can’t answer the questions, you change the subject with a big lie. It helps to call the opponents extremists when you say your extreme statement. As a lord of the manor, you hire out the convention center that the state has bought you to say such things. Get former governor Tom Ridge to be your front man.
The Inquirer did not have to look very hard to find juicy quotes to set up the red state blue state drama that reporters love to set up these days. McClendon just came right out and said stuff you suspect CEOs are thinking but find impolitic to say. I suppose he was preaching to the choir when he said that gas drilling has created thousands of jobs, tax revenues, billions in wealth created and retained in the United States. “And remind me, what value have the protesters out there created? What jobs have they created?”
I feel obligated to talk back in the name of Jesus to giant people spouting nonsense like that. Drilling shale or not, if you have enough power to roll into the convention center, buy up our mountains and influence the public, you need to watch what you say.
1) For one thing, the people in themselves have value. They don’t get their value from
their contributions to the economy.
2) We are not slaves who should be grateful for whatever crumb some big corporation throws us, grateful for having one of the scarce jobs that roll through while the gas is being extracted, grateful to get the next crumb after you are done with us — if the landscape can still produce crumbs after we lose our job!
3) And the big thing: Read Isaiah 10, Mr. McClendon. You are sounding like the King of Assyria. You should watch what you think you are creating. I’ll quote it in the
King James for you:
For [the king] saith, “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:
And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.”
Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.
Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire. (Isaiah 10: 13-16)
You can see that I think God is not happy with armored CEOs with verbal broadswords, especially when they are talking down my buddies in the street who produce quite enough, thank you. But maybe even more, I am not happy that the big talker in the big convention center, backed by the big government welfare check, is teaching his minions to talk the same way he talks. The reporter was wandering around the convention center looking at people taking cellphone pics of the protesters outside on Arch Street. He overheard one in a blue blazer talking into his phone saying, “All these people look like they just came out of Cuba. Don’t they have jobs?”
At least one had a job. I called my assistant last Wednesday so he could care for one of my many needs, only to realize that he was undoubtedly at the protest.