We’re A Very Entertaining Species & BHB

Here’s a Fourth of July message, because this is how we define ourselves. This is how we do things. This is how we plan for the future. Be advised that we can be a very entertaining species.

Read this from Wikipedia:

The oil depletion allowance in American (US) tax law is an allowance claimable by anyone with an economic interest in a mineral deposit or standing timber.[1] The principle is that the asset is a capital investment that is a wasting asset, and therefore depreciation can reasonably be offset (effectively as a capital loss) against income.

The oil depletion allowance has been subject of interest, because of the relationship of big oil with the US government, and because one method (percentage depletion) of claiming the allowance makes it possible to write off more than the whole capital cost of the asset.[2][emphasis mine]

The oil depletion allowance applies to most extraction commodities – anything pulled from the Earth, like fossil fuels. The allowance is basically a subsidy to those industries and to those who profit from them.

Once we’ve sucked all the oil out of the ground it’s gone. We don’t have another 60 million years to wait for more supply. So we pretzeled our tax code to give the industry billions of dollars in tax reductions so the oil barons would have a soft landing when all the holes are dry a long, long time from now. We surely wouldn’t want to burden them with the awful mental labor of figuring out what’s next. They just want to go on cashing their checks.

It was a simple jump to taxing the profits of the oil companies – income tax – to make governments beholden to the revenues they received from Big Oil, Coal and Gas. That made politicians and the public protective of the fossil fuel industry because of all the services they funded. It also relieved our leaders of that same burden, the terrible entrepreneurial mental labor of figuring out what’s next. They, too, just want to go on cashing their checks.

So, congratulations to all of us for setting ourselves up for sclerotic brain functioning about what comes next. We aren’t in immediate danger of running out of fossil fuels. But we are in danger of running out of a survivable place to live, because we’re cooking ourselves in our own juice, even as we defend the source of what’s cooking us. It’s good for individuals and local, state and federal revenues to protect the status quo. Pay no attention to the people dying of heat in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, or the water reservoirs going dry and agricultural fields drying up.

This is just another chapter in the Book of Reality Denial. Like most of the other chapters, you can get to the root of the foolishness by following the directive of Deep Throat: Follow the money.

We humans can be bought at such a low price. Every day there’s a blue light special in aisle seven and we stampede to it, heedless of our own coughing and wheezing. And that’s the BHB – Basic Human Behavior* – we have to overcome if we’re to save ourselves, because the Oil Depletion Allowance won’t grow food, provide water, stop mega storms or un-foul our air.

Be sure to wave your flag at your town’s Fourth of July parade (if it isn’t cancelled due to the pandemic). Watch for my traditional red, white and blue flag shirt as you pass by.

And wake up to the reality that a few more bucks in our pockets at both individual and governmental levels will be worth nothing if we’re scratching for existence. It’s time for us to see red, white and blue in a new way so that those colors will still be flying for our children and grandchildren.

Because ready or not, what’s next is coming.

If you’d like to have a look at our century-long subsidizing of and our squishy love affair with Big Oil, have a look at this piece from Mother Jones.


* BHB – Basic Human Behavior

Be clear that we humans have a nearly infinite capacity for self-delusion. Even today we see Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) pledging to complete Trump’s border wall, at least in Texas, and he’s pledged $250 million of Texas tax payers’ money to do it. I guess Mexico just isn’t going to pony up any cash for a wall and, clearly, Abbott’s paltry fund won’t buy much wall, so he’s soliciting private donations. Abbott received $459,000 from duped donors in just a week. To learn why they’re duped, take this math test:

Trump’s border “wall” – sometimes it’s just a fence – cost over $22 million per mile. This was accomplished through the magic of Trump’s no-bid contracts awarded to his donor friends.

The Texas-Mexico border is 1,200 miles long.

How much would it cost to construct Gov. Abbott’s border wall?

Hint: $26,400,000,000


So, no, Gov. Abbott is not going to build that wall. You can be confident that the money he collects will go to the governor’s favorite campaign fund. And don’t be surprised if all that gets erected along the border is a weather beaten post with a bullet-riddled stop sign.

Politicians will fund raise on anything that tweaks donors. Stoking fear of immigrants has repeatedly proven to be an excellent stimulus for the emptying of citizens’ wallets into politicians’ piggy banks, exactly what Abbott is doing right now. Our BHB – Basic Human Behavior – allows us to be duped in this way over and over. And it gets even crazier than that.

Somehow Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem thinks it makes sense for her to send South Dakota National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border. Yes, seriously.

And Tennessee (not South Dakota) billionaire megadonor Willis Johnson has pledged to fund Noem’s spectacle of trying to look patriotic. Yes, seriously.

VSQ (Very Serious Question): What do you suppose megadonor Johnson expects to get back as a return on his investment in Noem? Hint: Noem thinks she’s a 2024 presidential candidate and Johnson might want to be on Noem’s favorite donor list to get whatever it is he wants. He’s just another grifter and we allow ourselves to get duped by the megadonor 2-step nearly every time.

Click me

Like I said, we’re a very entertaining species.


More BHB

We Americans are making great progress in refusing vaccines. And we’re doing it just in time for the arrival of the Delta variant which is 140 times more contagious than the “that’s so 2020” Covid-19. Here’s a great summary.


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One Response to We’re A Very Entertaining Species & BHB
  1. Jim Altschuler Reply

    We pay for the privilege of lining the pockets of the billionaire oil company owners. We pay ever-increasing prices at the pump to fill gas-guzzling SUVs ’cause someone said we need big heavy 20 mpg in which to pick up our groceries. I’m sure the automobile industry appreciates it, too.