Archive for May, 2011

Big Polluters: Avoiding Taxes For The Good Of Society?

Money has a way of corrupting people even the most righteous and honest people on earth. It has a way of making people succumb themselves to unethical decisions for the purpose of greed. Money is not only a means of payment for items but it is also the root cause for the downfall of countless individuals.

Corporate oil companies are examples of individuals that have been severely lacking in good. In recent years, there have been a number of oil spills. The most recent one is the BP oil spill in the gulf. Even though blame cannot be placed on it for the incident occurring in the first place, BP needs to be held responsible for their lack of commitment to the environment to completely fund for the clean up of the mess. Oil is still present in the gulf one year later. Plants have all withered away and animals have either died or fled their once previous homes. There were numerous endangered species living in the locations most affected by the oil spill. Thousands of people have sacrificed countless hours and labor working for years to rebuild the populations of these species. Now their numbers are basically almost the same as before any effort was made to rebuild. All the hard work and time were for nothing.

Oil companies are not paying their fair share of taxes. BP just recently took a $10 million tax break in order to recover from the lost revenue of the oil spill. That amount alone would completely cover the entire budget of the EPA which is $9.5 million. The question that we have to ask ourselves is why are Americans allowing BP to go about business scotch free while others are suffering under their hands? The EPA had to undergo budget cuts just to stay afloat. The U.S. definitely needs the EPA more than we need another oil company. The EPA is what keeps the environment from becoming worse than it is already.

Thousands of potential tax revenue are not filed because oil companies have found numerous tax loopholes that consequently allows them to pay less than they were originally supposed to. Americans could have used that money to save thousands of jobs like teachers, police officers, firefighters who are now currently working for low pay or have been laid off. It should not be considered ethical that oil company executives are receiving bonuses and are taking lavish vacations while millions of people are working just to get by. These executives are no different than anyone else in the U.S. Therefore, they should be treated the same way as everyone else. Like everyone else, they should file their taxes honestly and fairly without finding loopholes in the tax system.

Money has become such a priority for the majority of the oil companies that they are willing to lie and cheat to make certain that they pay the least amount of taxes. It has brought about a change in the mindset of oil companies in regards to what is more important, from making ethical decisions that work towards promoting the common good of society to making decisions that produce as much money as humanly possible.

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Napoleon: a visionary hero or an over-ambitious villain?

If what it means to be a hero is to have unwavering dedication to a cause and an unrelenting will to make it happen, then Napoleon is a great example of a hero. Napoleon’s ever-famous quote and also his motto was “Nothing is impossible”, and it was obvious that he followed this ideal.

Napoleon had a rough and modest start. He was born on Corsica, property of France at the chaotic time of the French Revolution. He was a gifted and a revolutionary leader, quickly rising through the ranks to become a commander of the French army. On top of his talents, he also had a vision: a vision of a united, powerful France, an empire that would span the breadth and width of Europe, not the crumbling and corrupt monarchy of old. His outspoken character and personal drive made him extremely popular with the people and the soldiers he commanded.

After many successful campaigns, Napoleon became a powerful military and political leader in France. With the support he gained, he was able to seize the throne and became the Emperor of France. His many victories over France’s arch-enemies vastly expanded French territory, transforming it from a nation to a mighty empire. Most famous of those was the crossing of the Alpes. At that time, the idea of moving a large army across the murderous mountain was thought all but impossible. However, Napoleon insisted on crossing the mountains, despite the warnings of his advisors. His bold tactics and resolute will allowed the French army to successfully cross the mountains and caught the enemies in complete surprise, resulting in a sounding victory. Such was a testament to his motto: “Nothing is impossible”

Ironically, Napoleon’s greatest asset also proved to be his ultimate downfall. His hunger for conquest, his dream of greatness for France led him into an over-ambition to dominate all of Europe and also Russia. The invasion of Russia, greatly advised against by his lieutenants, was a disaster. Much of the fault was also due to Napoleon’s uncompromising nature to never yield. During his absence and defeat, his enemies seized power in France and succeeded in dethroning him.

Yet Napoleon’s glory wasn’t meant to be over yet. Subsequent political and militaristic upheavals soon allowed Napoleon to regain his popularity and power. Returning to the throne, Napoleon led his army to the final defeat at the battle of Waterloo. Here, an alliance of British and Prussian forces ultimately defeated his army. With his defeat, Napoleon was exiled to a remote island. He died still hungering for his dream to be fulfilled.

From the example of Napoleon, we can see how a strong and dominant will can lead a person to greatness and heroism. Yet that same drive also led him to ambition and ultimate defeat. Such is the fine line between a hero and a villain.

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Tim DeChristopher: What Millions Dream About

Not many people are extremely passionate for something they love. It is even more unlikely that many people would submit themselves to jail and give up their own freedom for the things they are passionate about. However, there are people who would do just that. One such person is Tim DeChristopher.

Tim DeChristopher is a 29 year old undergraduate economics student from the University of Utah. He is an environmental activist. On December 19, 2008, DeChristopher infiltrated a federal government oil and gas lease auction which was the final auction under the Bush administration. By pretending to be bidder number 70, he bought up to 13 leases totaling to 22,500 acres of land around the Arches and Canyonlands national parks. When security had finally pulled him out of the auction, DeChristopher ended up with $1.7 million in leases he had no way of paying for.

Of course, DeChristopher was arrested on the spot. He was charged with a federal crime of disrupting a government held auction. On March 3, 2011, DeChristopher was found guilty at a Salt Lake City federal courthouse on 2 felony counts by a jury consisting of 8 men and 4 women for disrupting a government auction. During his trial He was sentenced to 10 years in jail and $750,000 in fines.

Later when people asked him why he did it, he responded that his actions were a form of protest against the federal government. The protest was sparked when the government violated environmental laws by holding the auction. In these laws, they stated that lands that were being auctioned off were first and foremost reserved for the sole purpose of building parks. DeChristopher knew that by doing nothing, these lands would be mercilessly used for corporate companies own selfish needs. Thus resulting in the devastation of these lands and possibly the surrounding lands.

When the government obviously did not care and were not going to do anything about it, DeChristopher took action to ensure that these laws were upheld. If no one else was going to do it, who would? When asked DeChristopher does not regret doing what he did at the auction. Instead he is quite proud of himself for having done so. Without him, Arches and Canyonlands national parks would not be present today.

He recently was a guest speaker at Powershift 2011 which is an environment activist conference in Washington, D.C. At the conference 10,000 young individuals heard him say that even though they are saying what they are going to do, are they really going to follow through with what they say? This statement was meaningful in which it encouraged the individuals to reflect on themselves and actually take measures to make a difference in the world instead of saying what they are going to do. Instead of it all being just talk, it should be all action.

Tim DeChristopher is a hero in which he took action to protect the thing he loves which is the environment from the people who are harming it. He was not just all talk. He actually had the guts to do something. DeChristopher was not concerned with the fact that his actions would no doubtably result in his arrest and jail time. He did what millions of people only dream about.

Below is the speech that Tim DeChristopher made during Powershift

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