Back when I was at Rice, 40 years ago, oil was a fairly benign political force. Or so it seemed to me, lost in my studies, surrounded by oil money, which was rapidly building the huge Texas Medical Center before my very eyes.
We know different now. We know how power corrupts every industry, and how absolute power corrupts absolutely. We saw that with George W. Bush, the spoiled son of an oilman, installed in power by a Supreme Court created through political action, unelected by the people. Since then we’ve seen Iraq, we’ve seen Katrina, we’ve seen the Great Recession. We’re seeing climate change, threatening the whole human race.
Worse, we’ve seen D.C. vs. Heller, idiots thinking Thomas Jefferson wants them to own AR-15s as some natural right. We’ve seen Citizens United, billionaires who think they have an absolute right to control us with their dollars, simply because they have them. These last injuries will abide. They are examples of how the oil industry, which took political power only to be left alone in the 1960s, eventually abused it to the detriment of the whole world.
Just as railroads pushed farmers and working people too far in the 19th century, and utilities collapsed the economy in the 1920s, just as manufacturers used political power to go to Vietnam in the 1960s, so oil eventually became a noisome element in the national political equation, and was overthrown by technology in 2008.