By Robert Mann
What is it about the oil and gas industry that engenders such steadfast devotion from our political leaders? In case you hadn’t noticed, Louisiana’s government has long functioned as a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Oil.
Maybe it’s the millions in campaign cash the industry bestows on governors, members of Congress and state legislators. While I suspect money is largely the culprit, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
The other day I stumbled across a curious psychological malady that might help explain why Louisiana’s leaders are so faithful to Big Oil. It’s known as “traumatic bonding,” described by one expert as the “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.”
In such situations, one victim has written, there exists an “imbalance of power, with one person more in control of key aspects of the relationship.” The “victim engages in denial of the abuse for emotional self-protection.”
That’s actually a decent characterization of Louisiana’s stormy relationship with Big Oil or, as I’ll call it here, “Mr. Big.”
For decades, we were infatuated with Mr. Big. He charmed us with sweet talk and showered us with gifts. He was good for our economy. He offered us well-paying jobs and plentiful revenue from his severance taxes.
In time, however, we discovered Mr. Big’s dark side. He’s occasionally domineering, insecure and sensitive to slights. He exhibits a troubling unwillingness to accept responsibility for his actions, which has included spoiling our coast.