Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Magical Federal Government And A Spill

The oil spill in the Gulf has people's teeth on edge which is approaching fury. Oil pouring out into the Gulf from a profit making operation and fouling water and shores for over a month and still counting is infuriating. BP's inability to deal with it has people screaming for the Federal government to take over from them.

I'm a lefty Democrat which means, in a quite abbreviated definition, I think that the government has the means, ability, and responsibility to deal with matters beyond the reach of society at large. That means that I'm real sure that the Federal government has the ability to shape economic outcomes through regulation and taxation. It means that the Federal government has the responsibility to keep a rein on outfits like BP. What it does not mean is that Federal government has magical powers. Pointing the Federal government at a problem ought to include it having the ability to do something with the problem.

The Fed doesn't drill holes a mile under the ocean's surface, it is not something they do and apparently didn't bother to ask BP if it was good enough at it. There isn't a Dept of Magic Wand Waving. Whatever you think about BP; it isn't in their self interest to have oil going all over the ocean. If you find yourself on the side of the ignoramus from Alaska on an issue when you didn't start out on her side of anything it is time to stop and think. The "Drill Baby Drill" babe has managed to show that she knows just about squat about anything beyond repeating slogans.

The idea that the Federal government knows a whole bunch about plugging an oil well ought to be pretty well disproved by the permitting that allowed this hole to be punched in the manner it was done. The idea that BP and the Federal Government aren't using all the resources available to address this mess passes rational belief. Nobody has said, "Great job, Brownie," instead there has been a steady drumbeat of BP is under the boot. People seem to forget what the function of government is and what its reach is. Problems are not amenable to wishes...

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