Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oil Spill: The Real Culprits

One of the many things I've been neglecting to do is blog about the oil spill. Well, here is the chief insight I have about the situation: It sucks. And we're constantly learning that it sucks even more than we previously thought. Sucks.

Here's another thing. It's ridiculous for people to pin this disaster on Obama. "Obama's Katrina" they want so desperately for us to call it. That's not gonna stick, because it doesn't make any sense.

There are two culprits here on which the political backlash must ultimately fall. The first is our oil dependence. As long as we continue to suck oil from the earth, there are going to be spills. The more wells, rigs, and tankers we have, the greater the odds of a major spill. Spills are simply one of the costs of oil. So why is there a major political movement in America calling, essentially, for greater dependence on oil? (Psst! Because the dominant influence in the conservative movement is the short-term interests of large corporations.) "Drill, baby, drill! Drill here, drill now!" Oh please. It's 2010. The quicker we can get off this stuff the better. But it should be no surprise that the major voices of the right want us to go backwards. That's what they do. That's their job as conservatives. They want to conserve stuff for those who have lots of stuff. Oil companies have lots of stuff. The rest of us ought to be working to create the Apollo program/Manhattan Project of alternative energy. This spill should be the kick in the butt that gets us started.

The second culprit is lax regulation of private industry. If enviro-economic disasters of this magnitude are possible (and they obviously are), then I want the federal government breathing down the necks of the oil companies. Or, have the government simply swallow the oil companies and run them for the public good. But oh my! That's a discussion for another post.

So, the Republicans who say this disaster should be the end of Obama--what are they really saying? What are they proposing? That the federal government should be better able to respond to disasters? Yes, I agree our government has been undermined by "government is bad" Reaganist ideology and tax cuts for the wealthy. Government should be bigger and better. Are they saying that we shouldn't be drilling for oil in the Gulf in the first place? I doubt they mean that, unless they've suddenly become radical environmentalists. Are they saying the Dept. of Interior should have prevented this from ever happening? I agree that we should have greater democratic controll of large corporations.

The oil spill is not, nor should it be, a political disaster for the left just because we have a Democratic president right now. But it is a disaster--environmentally and economically--for the Gulf Coast and the country. And if the country can see through the right's talking heads, it will be a disaster that spurs us on to something good.


Mason said...

From the redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for BP...

At today's hearing:
"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," Rep. Joe Barton (R) said to the BP chief executive. "I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private company would be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion shakedown."

"I apologize," Barton told Hayward. "I do not want to live in a country where anytime a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subjected to some sort of political pressure that is, again in my words, a shakedown, so I apologize."

Becky said...

Joe Barton: My mouth was hanging open when I heard what he said. Sometimes people really tell you who they are, and he did. He really truly thinks that a "private corporation" should be allowed to operate however they hell they want as long as they turn a profit.

But I think by the third time he apologized for his apology, he was really sorry. Ha! He got taken to the woodshed for sure.

Chris said...

The culprit is human beings. We all use and demand oil products. These kinds of accidents are inevitable. But we will go on using. One thing I've learned is that change comes slow. I'm sure we will become less dependant over the decades. It's just frustrating that we can't change it all right now.

I would like to call this oil spill something like an oceanic nuclear holocaust.

Elizabeth said...