4 September 2003

Amanda Griscom: Bill Moyers Speaks his Mind on Bush-brand Environmental Destruction and More:
Grist: Can you elaborate on their religious and political dogma?

Moyers: They are practically the same. Their god is the market -- every human problem, every human need, will be solved by the market. Their dogma is the literal reading of the creation story in Genesis where humans are to have 'dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the Earth, and over every creeping thing ...' The administration has married that conservative dogma of the religious right to the corporate ethos of profits at any price. And the result is the politics of exploitation with a religious impulse.

Meanwhile, over a billion people have no safe drinking water. We're dumping 500 million tons of hazardous waste into the Earth every year. In the last hundred years alone we've lost over 2 billion hectares of forest, our fisheries are collapsing, our coral reefs are dying because of human activity. These are facts. So what are the administration and Congress doing? They're attacking the cornerstones of environmental law: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, NEPA [the National Environmental Policy Act]. They are allowing l7,000 power plants to create more pollution. They are opening public lands to exploitation. They're even trying to conceal threats to public health: Just look at the stories this past week about how the White House pressured the EPA not to tell the public about the toxic materials that were released by the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.

Grist: I'm interested in your explanation of why -- I haven't heard this dogma-based argument before. More often, critics interpret the White House environmental agenda as political pragmatism, as simply an effort to stay in power and pay back corporate contributors.

Moyers: This is stealth war on the environment in the name of ideology. But you're right -- there is a very powerful political process at work here, too. It's payback time for their rich donors. In the 2000 elections, the Republicans outspent the Democrats by $200 million. Bush and Cheney -- who, needless to say, are oilmen who made their fortunes in the energy business -- received over $44 million from the oil, gas, and energy industries. It spills over into Congress too: In the 2002 congressional elections, Republican candidates received almost $15 million from the energy industries, while the Democrats got around $3.7 million. In our democracy, voters can vote but donors decide.

I think this is interesting because it highlights the differences between Howard and Bush. The religious right is insignificant in Australia and if you asked Howard about Genesis he'd probably talk about the band. Despite that, Howard's tactics are almost identical - as with lowering the Medicare rebate in real terms and then expressing surprise when the rate of bulk-billing declines or using the Tampa incident to convince us that refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq were representatives of the regimes they were fleeing.

And apparently the survival of the species matters when the subject is gay marriage but not when the subject is global warming. At least Howard was clever enough to keep us out of a long-term role in the Iraq disaster.

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