Thursday, March 17, 2011

Big rig parade

Posted on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Perhaps the whole effort to slow down, re-route, or even stop the big rigs is mistaken (see “Crossroads,” Jan. 20, 2011). I can still remember reading about the impatience of the Imperial Oil CEO to get his show on the road as, according to an article in the Missoulian some weeks ago, his company had filed all the necessary paperwork. In order to more fully dramatize the corporate take-over of our country, how about having a more elaborate parade of big rigs? Let’s be bold here and have the convoy of massive rigs roll imperially through our national parks, for starters. Why confine their travels to only a few miles of a beautiful and cherished scenic corridor? With a longer route compliant citizens, united by their fervor, could line the roads and exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights to cheer the latest corporate endeavor. Oil executives and officials who have backed this proposal would certainly welcome the big rigs to their towns and even their neighborhoods. Of course, getting the big rigs into some of the gated communities might be tricky, but the major corporations have endless technical expertise in many areas as they’ve always reassured us. Financing a longer route shouldn’t be a problem as they could always withdraw funds from offshore tax havens to underwrite this parade. Exxon, for example, has paid very little of the damages legally assessed for the Exxon Valdez disaster, so it seems that they could conceivably finance this effort by themselves. If not Exxon, perhaps the Koch brothers could stealthily inject some cash into this project. If somehow losses ensued instead of profits, I’m sure that the now standard “socializing” of losses would protect the profit margins and executive bonuses of big energy.

Even more benefits could accrue with more exposure to more people. For example, the big rigs could be utilized for upcoming elections. Candidates’ names could be posted conspicuously on the massive sides to let us know directly whom to vote for. In solidarity, it seems to me, the elected officials who are so fond of giving tax breaks to big oil could provide an entourage while wearing corporate logos, a la NASCAR suits, to provide for greater transparency in the whole process. I’m sure that imaginative folks who truly care about advancing the corporate agenda will be able to suggest additional benefits that have not yet occurred to me.

While pondering this issue, I couldn’t help but think of folks like Rick Bass, David James Duncan and Steve Running. They absolutely deserve our respect because they are writers and activists who actually do serious research and discuss issues in a thoughtful manner, which exemplifies the best of our frayed democratic traditions. Meanwhile, many readers of this paper will recognize the current popularity of making up one’s own facts, firing off an opinion that displays historical amnesia, all the while blithely ignoring the common good, and thus will forgive me for any excesses in my humble proposal.

Tom Graff


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