Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why Make When They Can Take? Part 1

The people who work for Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) seem like good, decent people. So, what kind of mental control does society have over them – to persuade them to perpetrate the Rural Nevada water grab (essentially an environmental Holocaust)?

  • These are people who wouldn't think of setting wildfires in Rural Nevada. But they're willing to drain the water supply of tens of thousands of acres of pristine high desert – with obvious wildfire consequences.

  • They wouldn't think of shooting every last animal in these valleys. But they're willing to leave them dieing of thirst.

  • They wouldn't think of robbing people. But they're willing to take away whole valleys' water supplies by exploiting the regulations and administrators of our government.

  • They wouldn't kill someone for their body parts – even if it were to save others. But they're quite willing to buy coal-fired power (which will pollute the air) and create massive dust bowls (resulting in even more air pollution). With all of these pollutants in the air, inevitably, people will die – so that Southern Nevada can continue to grow – unsustainably.

The hypocrisy of these actions may seem quite apparent to outsiders. But employees of SNWA are somehow able to rationalize excuses for these despicable acts. Something has taken over the judgment of these good people. I suspect that something is fear... fear of losing “everything.”

American corporate capitalism has left many in fear of losing their jobs, their health care, their homes, and even their loved ones. It could be argued that America has become a Nation of wage slaves. Maybe, but wait a minute. SNWA is a “quasi-municipality.” SNWA employees have secure, quasi-socialist careers. Is it that the employees of SNWA fear being thrown into the uncaring jaws of American capitalism? I think so. I'm no psychologist, but I believe I can relate to the job loss fear. They must feel a sense of dread at the prospect of having to find new jobs in today's market. That likely makes them desperate to hold onto the jobs they have. But just how desperate? Could their self esteem be driven so low that they would willing to think as they are told? Just what would it psychologically take to get them to participate in the biggest environmental disaster (effectively the biggest mass killing) in Nevada history?

We can learn something about why people are capable of mass killing from the Nazi Holocaust. The officers and enlisted men directly responsible believed they were “only carrying out orders.” They felt they “had no other choice.” Some rationalized that the “ends justify the means.” Many believed the Nazi propaganda. Apparently, they felt that to get by, they had to do whatever they were ordered to. The excuses of Nazi Fascists can be explained psychologically in rather simple terms. When people are afraid, and feel powerless to do the right thing, they'll do what they're told. All it takes to instill that kind of fear and obedience is for a few “examples” to be made of dissenters.

The acting head of SNWA, Pat Mulroy, once tried to limit growth in the Las Vegas area. Due to that act of independent thinking that bordered on insubordination, Ms. Mulroy almost lost her job. The ramifications of what happened to her must have reverberated throughout SNWA. If she could be fired for trying to do the right thing, no one was safe. Evidently, just saying that Las Vegas should limit it's growth at SNWA is a dismissable offense. Evidently, just saying that SNWA should desalinate ocean water, could keep one from getting a promotion. Evidently, just saying that Southern Nevada could conserve their way out of this situation, could get one reassigned to a dead end job.

When the truth can't be told in an organization, you cannot expect those within that organization to make rational decisions. When the only acceptable reality is a delusion, people will either believe it or pretend to. If management claims that California controls the flow of water at Hoover Dam, it has to be accepted as the truth. If management claims that SNWA will monitor the environmental conditions of Rural Nevada, it has to be accepted as truth that SNWA will not harm Rural Nevada. If management claims that there are no other options, there must be no other options.

It has been said; “Where you stand on a subject depends upon where you sit.” The employees of SNWA have cushy, well paid jobs – with benefits. That's rare these days. With corporate control of so many companies; downsizing, multi-tasking, and reduced benefits are the norm. The employees of SNWA know where they stand. They're being paid well to believe what they are told. This is not an uncommon situation. When given the choice between a paycheck and the truth, most people will abandon the truth.

When the truth can't be told within an organization, you can't possibly expect the truth to be told to outsiders. We simply cant trust them. We simply cannot believe their version of reality without very close scrutiny. We need to ask some tough questions. And we cannot just passively accept lame answers. Our future, and the future of the West is at stake.

1 comment:

dortiz said...

I deal with people on a weekly basis who will not speak the truth for fear of losing their jobs. I contract myself out and volunteer for different organizations because I want to be myself and speak the truth when given the chance to do so. I can walk away from the BS without feeling any obligations to anyone except my self and beliefs however not everyone has this opportunity. I do not make alot of friends because I do not like the way most people think in my field however I did not choose my field of study to make friends. I hope to help make this world a better place in some small part. There are always sacrifices in doing and speaking the right thing however I think it is good to do so even if your job is on the line.