Oil And Gas Are Destroying Local Living Standards From Russia to Africa To Oklahoma
All quotes within this article are taken from Rachel Maddow’s illuminating book, Blowout.
One way or the other corruption and fossil fuel profits go hand in hand. The big oil companies use a fraction of their enormous profits to pay off national leaders, politicians and bottleneck government regulatory agency heads so that they stay out of their way.
As a result billions of dollars in potential taxes critical for local schools, infrastructure and medical services go into the pockets of corporate heads, investors and a handful of politicians in the regions from where the fuels are extracted, often by environmentally damaging techniques.
The gangsters that run a ragtag poor Russia (Putin and friends) are fully dependent on oil and gas profits for their enormous personal wealth. In fact had Putin’s primary interest been directed toward the good of the state, as he first gained control of the government instead of personal wealth, it most likely would have been possible to diversify the Russian economy for the benefit of all it’s citizens. But when it came to corruption and personal greed, Putin calculated his best weapon of choice would be via cornering the oil and gas market. And he did.
First he took control of the large government run oil company Roseneft. Then he used that as a leverage to usurp the enormous private energy company Yukos by throwing its owner in jail on trumped up charges and forcing Yukos to sell its best asset to Roseneft at fire sale prices. With the oil market cornered the Russian people were doomed. The energy wealth needed to build a strong, well-balanced economy would now flow to President Vladimir Putin and his oligarch friends alone.
Maddow writes, “It was flat-out state-sponsored theft of a legitimate company: the Kremlin just shoplifting a capitalist something that might have otherwise actually succeeded on its own merits” And of course American companies and individuals — for a price — have been only too glad to help out such gangland style takeovers around the globe. In this case the accessory to the crime was no less that the bankers at Morgan Stanley.
Putin & Co. was more or less following the tactics of Rex Tillerson and the boys at Exxon Mobile who would routinely grab control of the oil wealth of small African nations and other countries around the world, which ended up raping citizen resources while only a few in the government leadership were required to be handsomely bought off — a mere pittance to the bottom line of the American oil giants.
Oligarchy type gangsterism built upon oil and gas profits is also seeping directly into America. Oklahoma is one of the poorest states in the union, in terms of its average citizens standard of living and government services provided. This despite the state overflowing with billions in riches extracted from beneath its turf.
The following is just one very unique tale of how great wealth can end up narrowly funneled and undercutting all around it. You see, there was once this dirt-poor kid of a large family born in Oklahoma in 1945. For whatever reason he caught the get rich quick oil bug, except that he took his time working in the lowest paying jobs of the business while sucking up all possible knowledge. After saving up enough money to be capable of drilling two wells of his own, he hit black glory on his second drilling, the first well having been a bust.
“The sixty-eight-year-old Hamm was founder and CEO of the Oklahoma City-based drilling powerhouse Continental Resources…. He was probably worth more like $17 billion.” That’s what one could surely call going from nothing to everything. Hamm ended up the most influential man in the state, a fellow who made it loudly known that he much preferred to see America as a country of unfettered capitalism and had the leverage to see to it that state politicians saw it that way too — none of this environmental crap and regulatory stuff for him.
The bottom line of all of this is that the fossil fuel industry corrupts all it touches — brokers, politicians, lobbyists, lawyers and heads of state. And no doubt that president Trump, with his instinct for corruption, and certainly encourage by his old pal Putin, is expecting to grab a big chunk of the action — to heck with national interests.