Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oil Rig Safety or Zhu Zhu Pets? Hmmmm...

I realize that the focus of this article over at HuffingtonPost is on the GOP acting as giddy as schoolgirls over news coverage of the economic impact the drilling moratorium will have, and that I should probably be ranting about the concept of arguing that we should overlook safety issues critical to human life and ecological purity. But I really can't get beyond this one quote halfway through the article:

Peter Duet, in a thick Louisiana accent, tells the assembled crowd that he is a single father and that his daughter recently asked him why he works so much at Port Fourchon. "Baby, so daddy can take you to Wal-Mart and buy you toys[.]"

Why is daddy begging the President to bypass the investigation of safety regulations that could potentially prevent another massive oil rig disaster just so he can go back to working so many hours that his daughter asks why she rarely sees him? Does he instinctively explain that he is trying to support them financially, or working to provide a comfortable future for her? No, first thing out of his head is that he slaves away for one massive corporation because he needs lots of money so they can buy lots of cheap crap from another massive corporation that makes its money by selling products made overseas by overworked wage slaves for yet another massive corporation.

I understand that this is a highly consumer-based culture, but to see it stated so shamelessly is kind of unsettling. Not only is the pursuit of amassing piles of poorly made plastic (and potentially poisonous) possessions the first thing to pop in this guy's head when "Baby" asks why she never sees him, but it doesn't even occur to him to change his reply to something more rational before sharing this anecdote with a national television audience.

Are we that twisted as a nation that we instinctively put the pursuit of the mindless accumulation of physical possessions ahead of the obvious concerns of food, shelter and well-being? I have no doubt that Peter is a good man that is actually working hard to provide for his daughter. I can even understand that his reaction to the massive BP oil spill and rig explosion has more to do with his personal needs than global concerns; as a single father, his world begins and ends with his daughter. But it still bothers me that the first thing he can think of to explain to his daughter why he works so hard s because they need to Buy More Stuff. We have lost something integral to our existence as human beings. As a nation, as a culture, as a people, we are in danger of losing ourselves.

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