For the working class and poor, fracking is one of the last bastions of upward mobility


#1

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#2

This reminds me of the problems with mining that we saw down in Guatemala this past spring. Desperate people sacrificing the future of their lives, their land, their society for a small amount of money from an outsider who doesn't share their plight.

Neighbors turn on neighbors as those who value the livability of their land end up being a roadblock to those who have reached the breaking point and chosen to sacrifice their land for an attempt at financial security.

We need to give people a real option, a hand up, and stop taking advantage of their desperation; stop offering them a short-term gain while we get rich on their sacrifice.


#3

This is all part of the neoliberal plan -- decimate the workforce by offshoring all the good jobs and then pillage the natural resources using those now-desperate unemployed citizens as fodder. The destruction of the environment and groundwater sources is simply a side-effect and nothing to be concerned about.

Its just a slight variation on the neoliberal plan that has been implemented all over the "third world" over the past 50 (150?) years. It of course includes the debt-enslavement of the populace and the bankrupting of their municipalities.


#4

I like your comment, but why do you call it a neo-liberal plan? Maybe I don't understand how you define neo-liberal. This sounds like disaster capitalism. Or just capitalism without moderating effects of government.


#5

That sounds all nice and unicornerrific, but do you have an actual sustainable economic model that can do that?
1. Metals and other extracted commodities have a price set by demand. Even if a company wanted to pay the miners more, it probably couldn't
2. Taxing and wealth distribution works up to a certain point-- but Guatemala doesn't have abig tax base to start with, so there's not much money to redistribute even if you wanted to try.
3. Workers pitted against workers really does suck, but unions don't work in the long run either: it just shifts the fight out of the street and adds 'union dues' to the worker's already dwindled paycheck.


#6

This is only because it is a relatively young industry that is still more interested in increasing production than in improving efficiency.
A friend of mine recently got a job driving around the gas fields and calibrating equipment on wellheads. It's a good gig- but once there are more extraction companies competing for less gas, the companies will start looking at ways to increase their profit margins on existing operations, and eliminating employees by improving the reliability of equipment and adding automated monitoring could be one of them.

Ironically, my friend is the type of lightly-educated worker that the article is alluding to. He has a degree, and was a school teacher before getting laid off by the local district due to chronic funding problems.


#7

All the money they are earning now will be spent later on treatment for cancer and other illnesses and for importing clean water. And they can also forget about growing their own food too. As usual, the poor getting fucked by the lure of Capitalism's short sighted short term gains.


#8

I think Ygret is using the term Liberalism differently than we do in American politics. Liberalism is actually the old school term for "free market" Capitalism. It is still used that way in Europe, France in particular. Its meaning actually closer to the term Libertarianism we use here.


#9

I grew up in the oiltown in Alberta, and almost every one of my male cohort now work in the oilfield, natural gas or (most often) the tarsands. None of them have education beyond high school, all of them make triple or more my own wage.

And all of them are, to some degree or other, miserable, hard drinking, heavy smoking and unhappy people. Miserable, dangerous work in awful conditions. Making >$100k/year offets that somewhat, but sooner or later you become old, your kids move out and your life is behind you. A big house, a boat and an RV in the driveway only partially make the rest worth while.

All that said, as a culture and a society we need to stop demanding all those hydrocarbons. They are so massively profitable that local governments and corporations will stop at nothing to access them. The higher the price goes the more boundaries will fall and the more rules will be broken. I know this, yet drive a car most days (though not far usually) - as do almost all of us.

Let's not put it all on the workers. They are working high paying but dangerous and miserable jobs to sell us that energy, we are paying for it directly and indirectly.


#10

"...where your job can improve your kid's chances of reaching a higher income bracket."

So they can then die from the effects of runaway global warming. Sorry if I don't see the advantage here.


#11

That's my understanding of neoliberalism as well. Basically deregulation of markets and privatization of government services and utilities.


#12

The people who created the ideology of free market fundamentalism, like Friedrich Hayek, called their beliefs liberalism. It was a new type of liberalism.

See: http://www.angelfire.com/rebellion/oldwhig4ever/

Much of the world knows of these ideas as liberalism or neo-liberalism, but some Americans call reformist social-democracy "liberalism" because the socialist/social democratic tradition can't be talked about here. So since liberalism is still associated with the New Deal and left-leaning policies, the US right calls neo-liberalism "libertarianism" an even more absurd term for support for markets, because it has historically referred to anarchist-communism.


#13

Democratic grassroots based militant unions work pretty well at improving the standard of living of workers by lowering the gini index.


#14

I think he's using the old definition of neo-liberal - you know, the Kaczinski/Reagan definition. Nowadays the same people are called neo-conservatives, but they are still all about breaking the middle class.


#15

where your job can improve your kid's chances of reaching a higher
income bracket

I've always found that careers in gun-running, drug-pushing and contract killing also improve your kids' chances.


#16

Here, here! In this day and age, for a journalist to write a story like that without mentioning the long-term effects and problems that will come with this supposed "upward mobility" is irresponsible at best. We are all way too interconnected to not repeatedly point out the cause and effect going on here, and everywhere.

As a nation (and world) we should be constantly reminding ourselves what our ideals and goals are, and then find ways to make those ideals happen. The way to stop fracking is to develop alternate energy sources that make more sense in the long run and provide jobs in the short run... which we can easily do. Unfortunately, government policy doesn't not encourage this, and we keep right on voting for more government that will continue to not support this.

So, what is the average Joe to do?

1) Don't vote for the Obamas or the Bush's. Try a third party, for once, and make sure they have integrity.
2) Reduce your own need for big energy, whether that's biking, public transportation, installing solar panels, buying a diesel car and converting it to WVO (waste veggie oil) or whatever else you come up with.

If everyone just did those two things, the fracking issue, and many of our issues, would cease to be issues.


#17

The FrackNation documentary was funded by Kickstarter.com donations and it balances out claims made in purely activist presentations. A 14 minute preview is here:


#18

Oh? Am I wrong in thinking that many resource extraction industries are undergoing periods of record profits? And if they are, why should we not be attempting to shift some of those profits from executive salaries and bonuses, dividends and cash reserves over to the workers?

Doesn't seem unicornish to me. Seems like what workers' movements have successfully done in the past under similar economic conditions.


#19

*Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was ruminating on his class,
And up through the shale came a bubblin gas.*

Methane, that is. Greenhouse gold, Appalacian air freshener.


#20

Haddaway and shite, they don't.