Sunday, May 09, 2010

Requiescat In Pacem: Donald Clark

The Los Angeles Times did a very good thing this morning. It published an article on the funeral of Donald Clark. Mr. Clark was one of the eleven men killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion. His body has not been recovered, so a picture of him was placed on an easel for the funeral.

Somehow, in all the hubbub surrounding the ongoing disaster as the oil continues to flow from the broken pipe, as yet unslowed, much less stopped, we've lost sight of the fact that eleven men died, eleven men with families, with friends (some of whom also work on the oil rigs in the Gulf). They've been lost in the shuffle. The LAT article fixed that, at least a little. It gave us a name and it gave us some reasons why men go do the dangerous and arduous work on the rigs.

Clark knew his job was dangerous, his wife said, although he didn't talk much about perils with his family. "He loved his job; the only part he didn't like was leaving.... This is a rural area and the only way you could really make a decent living is to leave home."

Many in the town of 1,500, about four hours northwest of New Orleans, say that once jobs started to disappear, oil rig work — despite the long commute and 21-day shifts — seemed like a good opportunity. A lumber mill, hospital and nursing home had closed in recent years, and farm work doesn't pay the bills.

Mr. Clark had few options so he took what he had before him to care for his family. It is what good men do. It is what the miners lost in the methane explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine did. Dozens of men are dead just working for a living for companies more concerned with the bottom line than the safety of their employees.

British Petroleum and Massey Energy are the poster children of the New World Order. They are, as Avedon quite astutely noted, "our owners". Massey continues to operate mines which continue to pollute and destroy our environment and BP has been approved for planned rigs which will drill even deeper for the precious oil and natural gas which drives the economy and enriches the already wealthy.

And our Supreme Court has ripped the "fiction" from the legal fiction that corporations are artificial persons entitled to constitutional rights, so they can continue to buy our government agencies to protect their fiefdoms. Their new status, alas, does not extend to criminal prosecution. We cannot charge these miscreants with murder or even negligent homicide. We cannot apply the corporate version of the death penalty by lifting their license to do business in the US.

Sadly, I don't know that we would, even if the mechanism were in place. We all depend on cheap oil and gas. Our computers, our pill bottles, our cars, even our shopping bags require the oil to keep flowing. We haven't yet learned our lesson. Perhaps with a few more stories and more honesty from our press we might. The Los Angeles Time surprised me by giving us a taste of such honesty. I just hope we will get more than a taste in the coming days.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home