We were the ‘Land of the Free’ for the longest time,” state Rep. Regina Cobb (R) said recently at an Arizona Republican forum. “We wanted to be able to put wells where we wanted to. We didn’t want monitoring. We didn’t want metering. We didn’t want government coming in and telling us what to do. Until,” she told an audience where some wore “Make America Great Again” hats, “we saw the number of wells that were being put into the ground.”

There is a reason we need government to make rules that limit exploitation and pollution; that require limits, metering, and monitoring.   We may want to be free from government and taxes but there are many good reasons why we need them especially now.  We are no longer the land of the free when wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few people who control our resources and our government.  I often wonder why so many Americans trust the people Trump has placed in charge of the EPA or the Department of the Interior.  Scott Pruitt was willing to eliminate EPA regulations and oversight because the fossil fuel industry paid for his support.  Pruitt believed in the agenda he pursued; the right of fossil energy companies to exploit our national resources, preferably at the public’s expense.  Citizens in Kingman, AZ are just waking up to the reality that without limits wealthy developers will take as much as they want and leave them without water.  The future needs of Kingman, AZ aren’t important.  “But we haven’t done anything illegal!” they claim, and they will make sure they prevent anyone from changing the rules!

As wealth concentrates in the hands of fewer and fewer people it is being used to hijack our government, our economy, and our world’s resources.  For some wealthy people there is no such thing as too much profit!  Once a person reaches the point where “enough is never enough” they will not stop exploiting every opportunity to accumulate more.  This is happening in countries around the world as the concentration of wealth narrows.  There is a hunger that has infected the world’s richest and most powerful people (many of whom are criminals and dictators) who seek to control the world’s resources for their own private benefit.  We are seeing the formation of a ruling class who will stop at nothing to gain unlimited privileges while avoiding social responsibility and violently suppressing rebellion.  It  comes down to an insatiable hunger for power and it also infects some socialist agendas.

Anyone paying attention can see that Trump is a narcissist, a bully, and a compulsive liar.  As a land developer he cheated workers and businesses who built his towers, refusing to pay them what he owed by repeatedly filing bankruptcy.  He has spent most of his life exaggerating his capabilities and over extending himself in business.  Some people like him for his brash outrageous behavior.  Others hate him for it.  He has consorted with criminals and openly admires dictators while criticizing the world’s Democratically elected leaders.  He blasts our country’s intelligence agencies saying he knows more than they do and he trusts Putin to tell him the truth.  Cohen is going to jail for lying to congress at the behest of Trump.  Cohen is going to jail for bank fraud on Trump’s behalf.  Cohen willing came before Congress to admit his wrongs and all the Republicans could say was “Liar, liar pants on fire”.  Seriously!  This is what now passes for congressmen in America.  What will it take for his supporters to recognize how this behavior is damaging our country and the world?

Politicians are beholden to the billionaires and corporations that got them elected.  Republicans support a specific agenda; to lower taxes and reduce government oversight.  What the average Republican doesn’t seem to understand is that the billionaires want this agenda because it will profit them at your expense.  They aren’t concerned if lower taxes make it hard for local residents to pay for schools, police and fire departments, or any of the social services we depend on.  Like Kingman, AZ people will learn the hard way that the wealthy are using political control to enrich themselves and they pay political appointees like Scott Pruitt to help them make it happen.  Once the regulations are removed they will buy land, strip its resources, and walk away without breaking a law.  This is happening across the world.  This is our free market, neoliberal capitalist system.  This is also the communist/capitalist system of China and the ruthless authoritarian system of Putin and his criminal oligarchs.  This is what power looks like to people who don’t care how they get it or what they do as long as it enriches them.

There is a relatively small number of people and politicians who now control most of the world’s resources.  They are not interested in building a better world in which the majority  share in the benefits of a stable society.  At best they give back a small percent as tax free donations called philanthropy, or promote their latest technology upgrade so you can follow their latest tweet or tell your refrigerator to order more milk.  At worst they are using facial recognition software and social media for surveillance with prisons to reeducate you if you object to their plans.  What we get back from advanced technology and consumer ideology is a pittance compared to what it has taken from our lives.

A man (or woman) with no scruples who learns to exploit others develops a taste for power.  They use their money and power for further exploitation, to perpetuate the cycle.  In the absence of a respect for law people become criminals.   The rich and powerful learned long ago to control the populace by buying favor with bread and circuses, or supporting morally corrupt leaders.  Some people become politicians because they crave the adulation of the crowds and know how to manipulate them into believing their lies.  Some people love the insults Trump hurtles at his “enemies”, forgetting that these enemies are also Americans.  Such leaders have learned that if they create conflict to divide us we are easier to control.

“We were the land of the free for the longest time.”  The majority of people on earth are not free.  They must live within strict limits, must work hard to get food and depend completely on the water and land to survive.  These people don’t have money or rights to control politicians.  It is only when those of us who can vote join together and use our collective power that we can change our government and society.   When oligarchs and autocrats take over government those of us in the free world must stand up and say “Enough!”  We must do so before our democracy is gone; before our votes no longer matter.

We must remove the money from our elections and curb the tendency of elected officials to profit from their corruption.  We must take back control of our government so we can change the direction we are going.  We must say NO to any political agenda that is damaging society, the environment, and global stability in the name of economic growth.  It is not a matter of being Republican or Democrat.  Most political platforms are still avoiding the truth if they believe they can solve our problems with more spending, with green economic growth, with greater freedom and rights, by redistributing wealth.  They are still offering little but bread and circuses.  We cannot consume our way out of our problems.  At some point we must admit our “wealth” is false.  We have consumed too much and we are left holding onto debts we can’t repay.  We are bankrupt, broke.  We are running on a treadmill trying to get ahead and going nowhere.  We can’t continue trying to live off borrowed money, or stimulate the economy to pay off more debt, or redistribute wealth and eliminate poverty because money and debt aren’t resources.

The politicians we’ve elected aren’t willing to tell us the truth because they know most people don’t want to hear the truth.  Few people want to face the reality that the earth’s systems are bankrupt, impoverished, and in extreme danger of collapse.  And even when we admit this threat exists, too few are willing to make the necessary changes needed to prevent long term, irreparable ecological damage.   Far too many people living in wealthy nations don’t want to give up our conveniences, our entertainment, our technology and modern lifestyle!

We must change the direction we are going.  We must open our eyes to see what is happening right in front of us.  We must see how the food we eat, the cars we drive, the homes we live in, our compulsive obsessions with social media are all contributing to the problem!  We must curb our consumption of resources and eliminate the use of fossil energy in order to slow and reverse climate change.  We need to be frugal and industrious, learning to make do with what we can.  We must cook food, eat better, work harder, and take care of our children.  We must change our diet and eliminate processed food because the food production system it depends upon is destroying our fragile soil resources, depleting ground water, and destroying biodiversity.

We must stop fighting each other and talk with civility and deliberation. We must raise taxes to limit the power of wealth and its influence over government and economy.  We need to take money out of politics and direct our government spending in ways that provide limited essential services.  Limits!  We need limits.  We need to limit finance and control corporate take overs and the debt load that drives their need for economic growth.  We need smaller not larger homes, smaller not larger farms, and smaller not larger businesses that derive their economy from local exchange.  If we don’t have the moral compass to guide us then we need laws that prevent usury, laws that prevent people from taking too much, laws that ration or limit the resources we use.  We need to stop taking more water from aquifers than is recharged.  We need to stop farming in ways that cause soil erosion.  We need to limit how much we exploit natural resources so our environmental systems are able to renew.  We must hold ourselves accountable for our actions before it is too late to prevent catastrophic collapse.

When the water runs out we have no one to blame but ourselves.


Teaser photo credit: Crop circles dot the landscape in parched Mohave County, Ariz., as newly developed farms tap into ancient groundwater aquifers to grow crops. Aerial support provided by Lighthawk. Jeremy P. Jacobs/E&E News