5.26.2015

Frackin' Texas: Where's Your Democracy Now?

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According to recent headlines, Texas lawmakers have now prohibited all cities in the state from banning hydraulic fracking activity. Pardon me while I laugh.

What makes this news amusing is the popular idea that the power of democracy will always work in the people's favor. Ha!


For example, approximately six months ago a reader left a pro-democracy comment in response to my article regarding a local business/environmental issue, Dungeness Geoducks and Environmental Red Herrings:
In response to your question, yes. I live in Texas, which contains probably the highest yield shale formation in the country.The industry is lucrative financially to the people involved in the production. Energy companies that practice hydraulic fracturing have not been held accountable for the environment to a high enough standard. It was a great enough concern that the voters in my city passed a ban on fracking. 
It is even funnier when I read it now that the vote has been overruled and prohibited by lawmakers. Bureaucracy 1, Democracy 0. 

So where is your democracy now? Granted, I assume there are legal mechanisms available that the citizens of Texas have at their disposal to fight against the prohibition of fracking bans instituted by state lawmakers. This is not to say court-ordered rulings will necessarily work since judges and lawmakers are on the same side -- bureaucracy -- but an avenue for redress is better than none.

This all reminds me of when Montana lawmakers overturned voter-approved initiatives a few years ago when I lived in the state, which is part of why I laugh. I know firsthand the slap of injustice when the bureaucracy overrules a democracy; it sucks.

As I have learned both from experience and recent headlines, bureaucrats who control a democracy have no problem dismissing the will of the people for their own good; 'their own good' being highly-profitable businesses whose handlers make sure to line the bureaucrats' wallets through campaign donations and any other means available.

And yet, in spite of these obvious flaws and failures of modern American democracy due to bureaucrats, people still believe that if they keep voting on the issues they are permitted to vote on that they will win. How? 

Where is the guarantee that voting in a democracy ensures the democratically-decided outcome will be carried out, rather than overruled by the bureaucracy? And if the people in a democracy do not have a say over the bureaucracy, why bother with letting the people think they have a say?...for shits and giggles? And if the bureaucracy can overrule a democracy, is it still a democracy? And if it is not a democracy, then what is it? 

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