Friday, June 18, 2010

Status Quo Bias vs. Simple Veritas

Day 45: Peter Samson, reporter for the Sun puts his hand in an oil patch on the surface of Barataria Bay. 
(Image, Caption Credit: Julie Dermansky,, used with permission)

Status quo bias: "The status quo bias is a cognitive bias which leads people to prefer that things remain the same, or that things change as little as possible, if they absolutely must be altered. While the status quo bias can provide a certain amount of self-protection by encouraging people to make safer choices, it can also become crippling..." (from

I don't know about you but the thought that President Obama basically told us we should just pray about the Gulf oil spill situation seems rather hollow to me. If I'm going to pray for anything, it's that this administration and our Congress come up with a better plan than prayers. In the midst of this catastrophe, our legislators are pretty much frozen in their status quo biased positions, unable to find consensus on what needs to be done to avoid more of the same in the future. For instance, look at the Energy Bill, which is stalled in the Senate where the Democrats cannot agree even among themselves. The cap-and-trade system of penalizing heavy polluters cannot even find full support among Democrats? Of course, the Republicans think that any legislation should be tied exclusively to the oil spill. On and on they go... How is it different from any other times they've dealt with energy issues? It isn't.

I, for one, am just completely disheartened by this administration and by our Congress. I am tired of large corporations and their equally large lies, and tired of politicians who appear to pander to them and allow them to continue to exploit those lies (preparedness? I give you walruses in the Gulf of Mexico and long dead sea turtle experts...) to extract their private profits and spread their liabilities and debts to all of us and to all our environment, as well. And I am utterly disgusted with politicians who apologize to heads of corporations for Congress and the American people calling corporations on their lies (however late that calling is). A $20B USD slush fund? A shakedown? Rep. Barton's comments so offended his own party (or at least it gave them pause for thought about what their voters might think of their party) that he was forced to apologize for his apology or lose his standing as ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce subcommittee. What was the man thinking I wonder?

Veritas: Truth, which has been in short supply. (Largely thanks to BP. You're likely to see more of the same- lack of truth- thanks to BP's evidently beholden legislators and judges.)

You've heard from Jen what the Gulf Spill and its cleanup are really like. If you want to see what the real spill cleanup story is (the images Jen couldn't bear to capture) check out photographer Julie Dermansky's multimedia coverage for The Atlantic, "BP's Slippery Cleanup Effort" and her often poignant Flickr gallery. What do you get to see on the evening news and in your morning paper? Not the truth. You see what BP wants you to see, what they wanted Obama to see. Julie Dermansky shows us more truth than probably many of us can bear. Like Jen, she says it's worse than we think. Listen to Chris Hernandez's story of a day on the beach. A beach you or I hope never to set foot on in its then (probably still) state.

Julie lives in New Orleans and drives down to the Buras area to get these photos. Her camera sees the truth and you should watch, especially because it's exactly what BP doesn't want you to see. Maybe show a few people her video and share it on your Facebook page. I sure did.

I really want to believe that change is possible in this country. But the fact that every politician seems so beholden to some special interest or large corporation makes my hope falter. 

Once again, I suggest that if you really want to see change, you tell your legislators that you do, and your president that you do. Because they are not going to change until you let them know the status quo bias business just isn't working for you any more.

To contact your House Representative and your Senator, you can go to:

And write to your President at:

Baby tern stuck in an oil patch on Grand Isle beach, rescued by Chris Hernandez 
(Image, Caption Credit: Julie Dermansky,, used with permission)

© original text, Bright Nepenthe, 2010

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