So by now everyone knows that oil is being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate higher than 0 gallons.  That's bad for all involved.  What lessons do we draw from BP's epic failure to be regulated?  Let's ask David Brooks:

Everybody is comparing the oil spill to Hurricane Katrina, but the real parallel could be the Iranian hostage crisis. In the late 1970s, the hostage crisis became a symbol of America’s inability to take decisive action in the face of pervasive problems. In the same way, the uncontrolled oil plume could become the objective correlative of the country’s inability to govern itself.

Well if by "everybody" David Brooks means "everybody on Fox News and in the Right Wing think tanks David Brooks listens to," then, yes, everyone is comparing this unrelated thing to Hurricane Katrina.  In any case, the real parallel doesn't seem to be the Hostage Crisis either.  By all accounts, the Iranians had something to do with that (and it wasn't an accident).  (Funny thing: the other day George Will said that BP's failure demonstrates the failure of the regulatory system–rather than the failure of specific regulators). 

Brooks is drawing, I think, some pretty weird conclusions from the tandem failure of BP to control their own mess and of the government to make sure they don't make a mess in the first place.  What this fiasco tells me is this: BP ought to have to get some kind of permit and submit to some kind of honest inspection if they are to put everyone's oysters at risk. 

Indeed, perhaps it's time for the extreme socialism Obama has been advocating.

(For the humorless, the last sentence is a joke) 

2 thoughts on “Gusher”

  1. "Well if by "everybody" David Brooks means "everybody on Fox News and in the Right Wing think tanks David Brooks listens to," then, yes, everyone is comparing this unrelated thing to Hurricane Katrina."
    This "unrelated thing" does share some similarities:
    1) Both were disasters affecting the same region.
    2) Both had a US president deploy massive resources to the affected area, as seemed adequate to deal with the problem.
    3) Both Presidents received intense blame for their response divided between hyper-partisan lines. 
    It seems like there are some worthwhile similarities. Neither president deserved such intense scorn for their response. Currently, it seems like the right wing wants Obama to ladle the oil out of the water himself. It's almost as absurd as wanting Bush to have been in Louisiana putting people on the busses himself. Those are jokes, but the partisanship is real.
    In fact, I think it would probably make an interesting Psychology study with word association: First, you take a hypothetical disaster and describe a political parties response to it, including some short falls in the deployment of resources, similar to Katrina and BP. Then, in one group you tell them that the Nazi party came up with the response, and in the other group you tell them that the Classical Liberal Benevolence party came up with the response. Finally, you ask them to gauge how well the party responded to the disaster. I bet you would have very different answers for the same narrative depending on which party you told them came up with the response.
    With something as large in scope as deploying resources to an a large area affected by a Hurricane or a Oil spill, there will absolutely be mistakes made. It is impossible for a problem so large to be handled without such mistakes. I think people interested in philosophy would have an appreciation for the limits of human knowledge. And, so I do find it amusing to watch the partisans point their fingers without appreciation for how impossible it is for their arbitrary criteria (for what a adequate response to a disaster is) to be met (at least not by a mere mortal).    

  2. Gee.  Bush gutted FEMA and put an incompetent boob in charge.  FEMA was responsible for the predictable natural disasters like hurricanes.  That's their job.  They had done fine under 41 and Clinton (for the most part). 

    BP was responsible for cleaning up its own mess–and they made claims that they could handle something even greater.  That turned out to be a lie.  This was a man-made disaster caused by an under-regulated and under-monitored industry. 

    Those are foundational differences. 

    None of this means the Obama admin hasn't f—ed up in many other ways.  They just haven't messed up in the same way.  Saying they did doesn't advance our understanding here (which is the point I think). 

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