Thursday, June 03, 2010

Trying to draw the right lessons from the BP fiasco

Mike Luckovich cartoon obtained from Yahoo! News.

The headline on Yahoo! this morning made me burst out laughing: BP says unprepared for Gulf spill; pipe awaits cut.

Unprepared? Ya think?

Some on the Right are angry because the President has dared to criticize BP. Some on the Left are disappointed that the President has not nationalized BP to punish it for its transgressions. And a whole lot of people have noticed, once again, that government regulation -- the rules that are supposed to prevent corporations from doing stupid things just like this -- isn't working very well. Some have pointed out a cozy relationship between regulators and regulatees:

Steve Breen cartoon obtained from Go Comics.

The real lesson to be learned from this nightmare is not that government is the enemy. Neither is it that government is our friend. Government is the neutral that provides a level playing field, that balances the needs of the fishermen and tourist industry against the needs of the greedy, opportunistic robber barons, er, oil industry. At least, it should be the neutral.... Regulation should not be cozy... but neither should it be overly punitive. It should prevent screw-ups... and provide some serious consequences when screw-ups occur anyway: Call me overly punitive if you will, but I want to see someone thrown in jail for this.

Another lesson we can learn from all this concerns the variety of animals in the Wild Kingdom. Some creatures will suffer more from this than others.

Steve Kelley cartoon obtained from Chicago Tribune.

Gosh, I wish it were the weasels, too.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Covered in oil is no fun at all!

Steve Skinner said...

Well said!

The Curmudgeon said...

Jean-Luc... I'll adapt the lawyer's all-purpose answer to your comment -- and I want you to see that I'm keeping a straight face while so doing:

It depends upon the oil, I suppose.

Eileen said...

I'm not defending BP in any shape or form - they were wrong NOT to have done a real risk assessment and this was bound to happen sooner or later. BUT - I'm quite glad it's not the previous President complaining because he seemed to me - as an outside observer - to be quite keen on getting oil out at all costs. He should be with the weasels too. You can't have your fuel without paying for it - one way or another.