In 1955, Pete Seegar wrote the song, “Where have all the flowers gone”. It popped into my head as I was thinking about where all the dollars have gone.
Where have all the
flowersdollars gone, long time passing? Where have all the flowersdollars gone, long time ago? Where have all the f lowersdollars gone? Young girlsThe 2% have picked them everyone Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?"
“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” Confucius
Lets look outside the United States of America and see if we can recognize wrongs there that we can’t see here.
In 1994, the Royal Dutch/Shell Group was the world’s largest fully integrated petroleum company. In 1994 it was perhaps the world’s most truly transnational corporation and it made more money than any other company in the world reporting annual profits of $6.2 billion.
In 1995, Shell Nigeria produced an average of almost one million barrels of crude oil a day—about half of Nigeria’s total output. The Nigerian operation provided about 14 percent of Royal Dutch/Shell’s total world oil production.
Ken Saro-Wiwa, an Ogoni, Nigeria tribal member became a businessman and later a highly successful writer and television producer. In his final years he was a world-famous advocate for sustainable development and for the rights of indigenous peoples. He was honored by a Nobel peace prize nomination and the Goldman Environmental Prize. In a speech given in 1992 to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, Saro-Wiwa stated:
Oil exploration has turned Ogoni, Nigeria into a wasteland: lands, streams, and creeks are totally and continually polluted; the atmosphere has been poisoned, charged as it is with hydrocarbon vapors, methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and soot…. Acid rain, oil spillages and oil blowouts have devastated Ogoni territory. High-pressure oil pipelines crisscross the surface of Ogoni farmlands and villages dangerously. The results of such unchecked environmental pollution and degradation include the complete destruction of the ecosystem.
Shell disputed these charges, saying that they had been “dramatized out of all proportion.”
Ogoni lies in the heart of Nigeria’s oil fields. The Ogoni people received virtually no revenue from the development of its land into oil fields nor did they get hired to work in the oilfields. Those jobs were given to others outside Ogoni who were favored by those who were politically powerful.
Schools, hospitals, infrastructure were not built that would serve most Nigerians. However, Nigeria’s military and business elites grew wealthy from oil revenues while most Nigerians lived in poverty.
In the United States we all know there is a growing disparity in wealth between the 1% and the 99% and it is not trickling down.
Galatians 6:8 “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life”.
In America, the gap between the wealthiest 2% and everybody else has widened. The upper middle class is shrinking and the lower middle class is growing. To confound the issue, wealthy individuals are paying less taxes than those in the middle class due to the wealthiest ability to have revenue streams not tied to a W2.
The Trump administration is putting the corporation ahead of the environment and it might be fair to say, thinking of minorities like the Nigerians thought of the Ogoni. The environmental regulations may have become too toxic if you will but remove too many of those regulations and the environment instead becomes toxic. Been there, done that. There is enough wealth in America to be spread around and our equivalent of the Ogoni should get a fair share.