There’s nothing inherently wrong with conservatism or liberalism. A healthy democracy needs both to survive. Perhaps the biggest political disagreements today are over the need for, or lack of, regulation. Generally speaking, conservatives want almost no regulation and liberals want a regulation for every possible contingency – the more punitive the better. Spring-loading the nation’s governance to one or the other is a recipe for disaster.
Speaking of disasters, how about that spew pit at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico? It’s the perfect example – and distressingly easy to find.
Before the hole leaked much more than Jiffy Lube uses on the average oil change, conservatives were chanting “DRILL MORE BABY, DRILL MORE!” They called for BeePee to take care of things themselves because, after all, they were honorable people who’d never bait and switch a fly. Top conservatives cited causes for the problem – from a plot by the O-Man to blow up the well as a way of skipping out on his positive position on offshore drilling to overbearing regulations that choked those poor oilmen like dust belching from a dry well.
Regulate the Thieving British Bastards!
On the other hand, liberals saw the BeePers as a latter day evil empire with a fork-tongued Dick Cheney at the helm of the Death Star. They cried ‘DRILL NO MORE, DRILL NO MORE! – ANYWHERE” and advocated regulating the thieving British bastards within an inch of their multi-national lives.
Guess what? They were both right…and wrong.
The failure in this case isn’t the number or kind of regulations, it’s the failure of BeePee to willingly follow the existing regulations and government regulators too busy watching porn, sleeping with lobbyists, and generally operating like crack heads with an inexhaustible supply of rocks to get any regulatin’ done.
As more becomes known about the events leading up to the disaster, it is becoming clear that allowing BeepPeep to regulate itself was like asking the fox to guard the hen house. They blew through dozens of safety procedures and regulations and lobbied hard to weaken existing precautions. They claimed to have plans for disastrous spills, but it turned out the “plan” consisted mostly of PowerPoint slides containing the BP logo and a “We’re BP, GO GREEN!” slogan in the header. That was followed by the same content on every slide – “TBD”.
Now, people are clamoring for the government to step in and clean up BP’s mess. James Carville is apoplectic that The Messiah™ take over lest we have another Katrina PR moment. The problem is one of those “TBD” PowerPoint slides currently represents the “fix”. No one knows what the hell to do because no one has been here before and BP didn’t come up with a plan because the aforementioned fornicating crack heads didn’t make them.
If, and when, the oil stops, hearings are warranted. However, instead of each politician spewing windy soliloquies on the dangers of Big Oil – or how swell those poor, beleaguered folks are – how about they just ask simple, tough questions? If they evade or simply don’t answer, compel the oily suits to. In addition, those miscreants in MMS have some ‘splainin’ to do too. Ask similarly tough questions and get similarly truthful and complete answers from them. If not, slap meaningful fines and make heads roll as appropriate. When all the talking is done and we’re deciding what to do, don’t ask “can we regulate more” ask, “should we regulate more”.
A Fat Man in a Room With Krispy-Kremes
If both parties are truthful to themselves, liberals will find most of the regulations we need are already there. Conservatives should look past that seductress Ayn Rand and her talk of free markets, greed being good, and the perfect order of capitalism and think of corporate behavior from their own perspective. Self regulation is like locking a fat man in a room with 20 dozen Krispy-Kremes.
If you could make millions of dollars a minute by skipping the odd safety check or not issuing safety gear to the clean up people, would you do it? My guess is that if you’re an unrepentant capitalist, you’d convince yourself that is exactly what the market calls for and you’d be doing the world a favor by being so generous as to take the big money and put it to work investin’ and yacht shoppin’, and whatnot.
After that, we need regulators who enforce regulations instead of acting like hormone-crazed freshmen at a frat party. They check and double check to enforce the idea that corporations are part of the market and need to act sensibly, not like Daddy Warbucks on a Red Bull high.
Congress and the President need to ensure both sides are behaving and not spare the rod to spoil the petulant government and corporate children. And we the people must do the same thing with the Congress and President.
Psht! Yeah, like that’ll happen.
- Deepsea drilling regulator grilled by MPs (cbc.ca)
- Gulf Drilling Regulators Let Oil Companies Fill Out Their Own Inspection Reports (huffingtonpost.com)
- Oil well cement problems prevalent in offshore drilling (americablog.com)
- Drill, Baby, Drill Cake Apology: Oil Regulator Expreses Regret (huffingtonpost.com)
- White House leak reveals Barack Obama’s reaction to news of oil spill (guardian.co.uk)
- There isn’t a magic wand to make this go away (dailykos.com)
- Nelson wants to end oil industry-regulator revolving door (cnn.com)
- We Should Probably Look Forwards (eschatonblog.com)
- Exxon Mobil CEO Says Company Is Helping BP (abcnews.go.com)
- ‘Political Stupidity’: Democrat Slams Obama’s Response to BP Oil Spill (abcnews.go.com)
- BP begins ‘top kill’ on oil spill (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Democrats and environmentalists push to kill Shell’s Arctic drilling project (guardian.co.uk)
- Salazar: U.S. doing all it can on oil spill (money.cnn.com)