Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's a Shanda

"Shanda" is Yiddish for "shame." But it has a further connotation of disgrace or outrage. It's a better word for what is going on in the Gulf than simple "shame." People use "shame" for trivial matters - "It's a shame it had to rain over the weekend." A shanda is a bigger deal.

In today's NY Times, Bob Herbert talks about the bigger ramifications of the oil "spill" (gusher) in the Gulf.

He points out that the livelihoods of thousands of people are at risk, to say nothing of all the types of wildlife that depend on the wetlands along Louisiana's coast.

"The vast, sprawling coastal marshes of Louisiana, where the Mississippi River drains into the gulf, are among the finest natural resources to be found anywhere in the world. And they are a positively crucial resource for America. Think shrimp estuaries and bird rookeries and oyster fishing grounds.

These wetlands are one of the nation’s most abundant sources of seafood. And they are indispensable when it comes to the nation’s bird population. Most of the migratory ducks and geese in the United States spend time in the Louisiana wetlands as they travel to and from Latin America.

Think songbirds. Paul Harrison, a specialist on the Mississippi River and its environs at the Environmental Defense Fund, told me that the wetlands are relied on by all 110 neo-tropical migratory songbird species. The migrating season for these beautiful, delicate creatures is right now — as many as 25 million can pass through the area each day."


I think of the wonderful variety of birds I have been seeing and hearing in the woods near our cabin, and wonder whether they will be there next year.

So far no one has managed to stop the oil from continuing to pour into the once-pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico. How long can this go on? How many people have to die, how many birds and animals must perish, before America says "enough"?

I know the government is doing things to try to help and that BP is supposedly trying to stop it. But this is a disaster of such magnitude that ordinary effort is not enough. This should be an all-out assault on that oil leak.

Has the government done enough? Maybe, maybe not.

According to the May 8 Times Picayune, President Obama's administration did respond appropriately and quickly to the disaster as it became apparent that it was a bigger problem than originally believed.

"While the Obama administration has faced second-guessing about the speed and effectiveness of some of its actions, a narrative pieced together by The Associated Press, based on documents, interviews and public statements, shows little resemblance to Katrina in either the characterization of the threat or the federal government's response."

And according to Reuters, the government doesn't have the oil industry skills needed to be of any real help:

"The federal government, not in the oil well business, is limited by what direct impact it can have on stopping the leak. The U.S. military does not have skills in the oil sector and officials have stressed the Pentagon is already providing whatever support it can to assist the U.S. response to the disaster.

The Obama administration has piled heavy pressure on BP to speed up its efforts to plug it up. 'We are continuing to push BP to do everything that it can,' said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs."


But is pushing BP enough? BP is the company that brought us this disaster in the first place. They won't want to spend any more money than they have to to clean it up.

And why doesn't the federal government have more ability to stop this leak? Surely our navy has some equipment, some expertise in deep underwater maneuvers, that could be helpful in plugging that hole that is gushing oil a mile underwater. And if not, why not? We have the most powerful navy in the world. Wouldn't you think they would have some knowledge of how to deal with things in the deepest depths of the ocean?

Of course the Republicans don't come off looking good here, not surprisingly. They recently blocked legislation that would have raised the cap on BP's monetary liability from $75 million to $10 billion.

On the other hand, the Obama administration is still playing both sides against the middle on this. Interior Secretary Salazar recently told Congress that too high a cap might endanger the smaller independent oil companies, the same argument given by the GOP.

I can't help thinking that no one is doing enough about this disaster.

Bob Herbert expresses the same feeling, that there has not been a strong enough response to this disaster, either by the Obama administration, or, for that matter, by the public. I mean, why aren't people marching on Washington demanding something more be done?

"The response of the Obama administration and the general public to this latest outrage at the hands of a giant, politically connected corporation has been embarrassingly tepid. We take our whippings in stride in this country. We behave as though there is nothing we can do about it."


While much of the coziness between the government and the oil companies that led us to this place can be blamed on the Republicans, not all of it can be. The Democrats are equally to blame for not overseeing the industry more carefully now that they are in power, and instead just let things go along as before. And many of them were pretty cozy with the oil industry to begin with. As Herbert says,

"The risks unleashed by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig are profound — the latest to be set in motion by the scandalous, rapacious greed of the oil industry and its powerful allies and enablers in government. America is selling its soul for oil."

Of course, I'm not sure America still has a soul to sell these days, but if there's a little something left of it, it will soon be gone if something isn't done to fix this mess and prevent future similar disasters. It's a shanda.

20 comments:

Liberality said...

It is unbelievable that ANY oil company can be drilling in the ocean without having REAL safe guards to prevent disasters from occurring. That is insanity and now we must all pay for it--the innocent as well as the guilty.

Sherry Peyton said...

It is worse than a shame, it is criminal. And it happens everywhere about everything. The tiny group at the top bloated with riches beyond comprehension plays a game of who has more and thinks of the rest of us as so many insects. Who cares what they destroy. They will always have a higher penthouse to escape to. It sickens me.

And btw...great job of writing and linking here Maui!

giggles said...

I heard on the eve news last night that BP will be trying "as soon as Sunday" to plug up the gusher again..... WTF "As soon as Sunday?" Why is there any delay AT ALL???????

Criminal is right. To right all the evil damage BP has done? I hope they are forced to pay for every dime. Every lost wage, job, wildlife creature (or flora) and I hope it puts them out of business when they are finished.

And let NO MORE drilling EVER happen in any waters ANYWHERE. 'Nuf said?????

I will NEVER by another drop of gas at BP no matter how much cheaper they are than the next guy. NEVER!

TomCat said...

Mimi, I've spent a lot of time studying this, and I think I can answer part of it. Only the oil companies have any experience in operations that deep. The deepest a manned submarine has ever gone is 2,375 ft. The leak is more than twice that deep. That's why the Navy can do nothing. The operating depth of an Ohio Class submarine is only 1,600 feet. There are very few unmanned RPVs capable of operation a mile deep. Most are already there now.

So, as mush as the GOP wants to paint this is as Obama's Katrina, it is not. He was wrong to propose an expansion of offshore drilling, to be sure, but that has not happened yet.

The problem is that BP should never been allowed to drill this deep. We can trace that problem back to the early days of the Bush Regime when the our nation's energy policy was written by giant corporations in secret in Cheney's office. Shortly afterward, serious regulators were forced out of government and replaced with sycophants whose main qualification was political reliability.

Now the dog is out of the bag. In my opinion, Obama can do little that he is not doing, but he needs to stop all drilling at depths where we lack the ability to contain failures before environmental damage is done.

Does this help?

Annette said...

I don't think BP wants to stop the gusher.. they want to continue to harvest the oil and if they plug it they can't do that... That's why they haven't done more.... money. As long as they can continue to get some oil off the gusher they will.. That's why they have delayed and are still delaying plugging it.. It should have been done on day one... but they wanted the oil. Plain and simple greed by BP is why it hasn't been stopped.

As TC said, there really isn't much the government can do about it... They are drilling at a depth out of everyone's league and they are drilling deeper than they were permitted for. That's the entire problem and why it can't be stopped by anyone but BP, they are the only ones who have the equipment and capability to do something about it.

Spadoman said...

This catastrophe goes beyond editorials about the Rethugs and Dems. I have a very bad feeling in the it of my stomach about this one. It doesn't seem to be getting enough press, at least nothing that is making the American public lash out. It is a slow working evil. We have made a hole in the Sacred Earth Mother and it is bleeding a poison into the water. Even if stopped now, it will leave serious effects. Uncapped for weeks, months, or longer will kill so much in eventuality. Still they talk about a monetary value as they kill nature.
Thanks for posting these articles and references. Maybe we should all think about changing our lifestyles as we may have to because of this unfortunate, but avoidable, (to some degree) event.

Peace.

Charles said...

Annette: they are not making money off of the oil coming out of that hole. First off, they are only able to trap a small percentage of it. Second: anything they are trapping is so diluted with sea water and dispersants that to refine it to even cheap industrial grade oil would be prohibitive at best. Third: there isn't enough money coming out of that hole to offset even a tiny fraction of what this company will end up losing over this whole deal.

spadoman: sacred mother earth? you make me giggle.

mauigirl: interesting points of view, but unfortunately, it always comes down to what can actually be done to change the way the world is. Statistically, the vast majority of oil spills in the world (which is a phenomenally huge number) happen during the transport of oil across the ocean. the next biggest portion of oil spills happen on refinery and well-head locations in countries like siberia, russia, northern african countries, and the whole of the middle east. so for the radical left to be so upset about this BP spill today in america amounts to just more of the smug american attitude that makes us the most morally degenerate country in the world.

humanity will continue to use fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. and unfortunately, there is no way to get oil out of the ground without risking some environmental damage. For us to demand greater federal regulation on oil companies here in america does a bunch of terrible things that should not happen: it increases dependence on foreign oil, it increases the motivation for people to drill unsafely abroad (which the american left cares little about as long as it's not on "their own" beach), it it increases the risk of spills during transport, it increases back-room bargaining in which oil companies get concessions like a "75 million dollar liability cap", and it takes the legs out of one of the largest industries in america which could have far reaching and unforeseen economic repercussions.

you can't stop the entire world from drilling. america drills safer than any other major oil producing country, hands down. why should we turn an industry like this over the hands of a world that will absolutely do worse damage over a given time period than we would with it, while at the same time crippling ourselves economically as well as on a geo-political scale?

deregulation is the answer. No liability caps. No deals between the US military and petroleum industry giants. no government concessions to oil companies big or small. deregulate and hold companies 100% accountable for their actions. if they screw up like BP has, burry them alive (fiscally). BP would not have done this if our ENTIRE government wasn't owned by banks and insurance companies. If they hadn't been PERMITTED to do this with those liability caps. obama and bush are one in the same. This is the fault of a government that doesn't have the capacity to govern. from either side.

people are not outraged because beneath all of this, beneath the nose-in-the-air New York Times pieces, beneath the apathy of the republican party, beneath the "outrage" of progressive news outlets like the Huffington Post or Democracy Now, and beneath the skin of almost every american that I know, there is an inherent understanding that we have all been duped. the people don't act because they are aware that as long as we have this lumbering, inefficient federal system made up of two inadequate parties, we never truly have a choice in the polling booth.

people aren't "marching to washington" because they know that it would do no good. what would they say? and who would they say it to? there is not a man in DC (especially not saint obama) who represents justice. blind justice.

i'll vote a straight libertarian ticket, the day i'm able to do so. i pray it's soon.

Mauigirl said...

Liberality, Sherry and Giggles, I agree, it is criminal, and I hope BP has to pay for it through the nose. As for not buying their gas, I don't buy it anyway so it will be easy enough to boycott them...haven't bought Exxon since the Valdez.

But of course it isn't just Exxon or BP; as Charles points out, there are plenty of other oil spills elsewhere in the world and until we cut out our dependence on oil, period, we won't be able to stop these terrible things from happening.

TC, thanks for the explanation of why we are so powerless against this. I talked to a friend who works with the Navy last night and he said the Navy does have UNmanned submarines that go down that deep but unfortunately once they're there, what can they do about it? I suggested they stuff the submarine in the hole but he laughed and said he doubted they'd waste a multi-million dollar submarine that way.

Annette, I think that probably they would like to stop it but never planned for such a thing to happen and had no fallback plan in place when it did. I think BP is as bewildered about what to do as anyone. But to your point, why aren't they working on it 24/7 until they solve it??

Spadoman, you are right, it is a gouge into Mother Earth...if there is such a thing as a spirit of the earth, she may be trying to teach us a lesson - but at what cost? So sad, and not likely to be remedied anytime soon.

Charles, you are right, it is part of our American hegemony and smugness that makes us all upset about an oil spill that happens to us, whereas if it happened in, say, Siberia, we wouldn't be so upset. Just like we let plenty of people die in other countries without doing anything about it until terrorists strike US. Then it's another story.

However, I cannot support a completely libertarian solution to this problem. The problem, which you allude to, is the fact the current government is indeed owned by the oil companies and other big business, and I do agree that both parties are to blame. But I think we do need regulation on the safety portion of the oil drilling, at the least. However, the idea that the oil companies would be fiscally responsible with no cap is fine in my book - makes sense.

And while it's true that we are still dependent on oil for power, if this administration, or any administration, had the will to do so, we could put all those subsidies that go to oil companies toward other forms of power and eventually get off the merry-go-round of dependence on oil. But it would require long-term thinking, sacrifice by both politicians AND consumers, and a type of altruism that Americans in general are not very good at having. If we had higher taxes on oil as they do in Europe, people would be driving more efficient cars, would drive less, would be more willing to switch to another form of power, and so on. But people would all rise up in protest if the government put more taxes on their gas. Americans are not into sacrifice for the greater good, not since World War II anyway.

I'm afraid I'm one of those radical left folks you refer to! ;-)

But I think we do agree completely that the current two parties in charge are equally to blame for this situation.

The longer-term solution to a lot of America's problems would be term limits on Congress. I don't think the "Founding Fathers" had any idea that anyone would make a career out of being a Congressman - they figured they'd serve a term and then go back to running their plantation or farm or whatever form of living they were doing before they served in Congress. Instead we have career politicians who are in the pockets of every industry known to man.

This is the deep root of the problem in this country and can't be fixed without a radical change in how politics is run. And the recent Supreme Court decision about corporations being "people" and able to give money to politicians doesn't help.

Charles said...

congressional term limits: i agree

altruism: i don't think it exists in nature or in human civilization. This is a philosophical tangent, but I have found it impossible to identify a truly unselfish act. see Dawkin's "the selfish gene".

ending any subsidies to oil companies or any other major corporation: i agree.

forcing the american people to adopt inefficient technologies that would cripple growth and put us behind a world that in many places is already leaps and bounds ahead of us: not a good idea. as a side note: europe doesn't tax fossil fuel use into the ground to save the environment. They do it because they get nearly all of their oil from russia, and europe as a whole is very wary of being dependent on a state that, historically, has been as pushy and volatile as russia. They (especially people in france, sweden, and other welfare states) like to tout their fuel policy as their being "progressive minded" and "socially conscious", but again, the american people would be duped to believe such a bill of goods. The European Union, in order to guarantee extended stability and autonomy on a global stage, MUST use extreme measures to reduce their consumption of russian oil.

i hate being the lone dissenting voice here.... but i appreciate your patience with my views... so many times i run into people on the far left or far right who are so far gone that they can no longer engage in civil discourse.

ps. heard there's a new leak in the casing at the drilling site :-(

Mauigirl said...

Interesting about Europe, not surprising that they have a practical reason for the taxes, not just an altruistic one - because I agree that unfortunately most people are not naturally altruistic.

One thing Europe has is a lot of nuclear power, which is efficient, unlike wind power and solar power (which I agree are highly inefficient in comparison to oil or coal). You may be surprised to hear that I am in favor of using more nuclear power, despite the issue of nuclear waste. I think that could be solved in time if we were to work on it.

Also, please don't get the idea that I oppose all offshore oil drilling. What I am aghast at is the lack of foresight on the part of the company and the government in not figuring out how to stop a leak such as this before drilling a mile down in the ocean. There should have been more safeguards, they should have had a plan in place to deal with something like this.

I'm enjoying the conversation and have learned a lot from your comments. I don't believe in extremism on either side. ;-)

Charles said...

:-)

Take everything I say with a grain of salt. I'm not formally educated, my father is a right wing super catholic man with some extremist rhetoric, and i am a recovering drug addict.

also i'm only twenty five, and as my former employer used to say: "you're only twenty five. what do you know?"

maybe more than a grain of salt.

I suppose we are in agreement about the nuclear power, though. Although part of me wonders whether or not i'd be comfortable with that in my own back yard.

Justhinkin said...

"And why doesn't the federal government have more ability to stop this leak? ... And if not, why not?"

To be sure everyone understands, the Federal government does not have equipment to drill for oil on, nor to cap wells on, ocean floors. That is because WE INSIST that such things be left to "private industry". That's the idea we're "built on", and unfortunately, sometimes this is the result.

You want a (mostly) solution? Here goes.

Regulation ... and funding, funding, FUNDING for it. "Big government", some say, but not as big as if government does the job instead of private industry; and wouldn't we be worse off if no one did it?

So, optimally, in our system, it's got to be carefully regulated private industry that meddles in things that can result in monumental disasters, like nuclear accidents, oil spills, and the like.

Only impartial (regulatory) oversight of such risky endeavors can do the best job of trying to prevent such accidents. Even what we know to now about this one points up to the fact that, even if "only" the present regulation had been enforced, this would likely not have happened.

The setup, by the several companies involved, was like a Mercedes Benz that had not had an oil change or battery maintenance ... literally (a battery failed, for one thing).

The "fail safe" mechanism (BOP ... the blowout preventer) FAILED because it was not properly installed and/or maintained and/or operated. That is the fault of the several companies involved, but could have almost certainly been prevented if stringent regulations had been enforced (with already required inspections).

You are (as am I) old enough to recognize the tremendous deregulation of major private industries that has taken place over the last 30 years (and you know why). We are paying the price.

Tax cuts (no funding for regulators) + deregulation (of private industry), year after year after year, = DISASTER!

Tax cuts + (resulting) failure to maintain infrastructure year after year after year = DISASTER!

The Bush administration, for example, cut FDA inspectors in half (tax cuts + huge war expenditures) ... at precisely the time when more and more of our food was coming from countries with little regulation of their own. This was about the time when some genius in China realized that if you add a plastic-precursor chemical, called melamine, to foodstuff such as infant formula or dog food, it "looks like" protein because it's high in nitrogen.

It was, and is, all predictable. Here it is, "the here an now". (Relatively) unfettered, unregulated free enterprise/private industry. The savings and loan game. On Wall Street. Under the ocean. Mines blowing up and caving in.

Private industry is about profit. Profit is about cutting people if you can, and cutting corners if you can. Show maximum profit THIS QUARTER.

When disaster finally hits, "take the hit" and thank the $$$ god for all the profits up to then. Curse the resulting regulations.

Then, $$$ => lobby D.C. for years to get the regulations repealed again; plus $$$ => elect "conservatives" for same (plus get "conservative" judges appointed for the years of litigation you will tie up the courts with). Hey, pretty soon it's the same old game again ... in a few years.

"They" are going to try to "get going on that" THIS FALL.

Unfettered, unregulated private industry brought THIS country SLAVE LABOR; virtual slave labor by other immigrants; child labor; 6 or more day work weeks; 12 or more hour work shifts; NO safety measures; and private enforcement militias to "knuckle down" on workers who object to those ... to name a few.

(continued)

justhinkin said...

(continued)

The "BIG GOVERNMENT" that you hear so many scream and rail against all day every day, right now, put an end to all that. REGULATION, INDEPENDENT, FUNDED AND ENFORCED.

Now, however, its Love Canal, Bhopal, Valdez, BPs.

Folks, it is, and it will remain in the future, those "gifts" and more ... or else so-called "BIG GOVERNMENT": REGULATION: INDEPENDENT, FUNDED, AND ENFORCED.

Which do you want?

If it's far fewer disasters you want, then the first thing you need to do is "take your government back" ... FROM PRIVATE INDUSTRY.

Whomever you elect, make sure they will legislate to make absolutely certain that only THE PEOPLE of this country, NOT ITS CORPORATIONS, elect officials and hold greatest influence over "the government".

Right or wrong, the recent Supreme Court decision perpetuating the corporate control of D.C. would not be possible with a Constitutional amendment making it to be only individuals who may "petition the government", and making it clear that such a "petition", when presented to legislators, is either an individual's VOTE, or a piece of paper with words on it that is NOT "money", and not a gift of any kind.

Individuals and ONLY individuals, including individuals representing corporations, can write a letter, just as can you and I, to representatives ... AND THAT'S ALL.

Regulate the hell out of "private industry" when it comes to the safety of individuals and our way of life, and cut off both hands (symbolically ... at first) of anyone who hands a representative anything more than a typewritten letter (or equivalent).

Limit terms, perhaps. Limit campaign expenditures, absolutely. Reestablish the "equal time" provisions to apply to media political ad placements. Reestablish the limits on media ownership.

I said (about our government) "take it back". Actually, it would be "taking it" ... taking control of it ... truly, for the FIRST TIME.

Up until now, first it was an aristocracy (the "electoral college" thing) that ran us (agrarian, with slaves and indentured servants in our first "private industry", big agriculture). Then manufacturing/corporations ... the result of the industrial revolution (child labor, no safety, etc.) ... ran us. Then it was the "military/industrial complex" (corporations plus the mitilary complex ... that dear General/President "Ike" warned us about) that ran us. Now it's mostly corporations again ........

I believe that some 200 years of enforced public education (thanks, truly, to big government, regulation, funded and enforced) makes US ready and able to be the sole petitioners of our ... your ... government. Don't you think so too?

Take the reins, FINALLY, and then "big government" will be YOUR government. Regulate against disasters big and smallish, control the regulation, and fund the hell out of it. Conserve energy to the max. Drill and dig until our alternative initiatives "kick in", and then use the rest ... for centuries ... to make recyclable computer cases and milk bottles, not heat under our hoods or in our HVAC closets.

Regulate the HELL out of recycling (should be part of our strategic energy policy)! Make every retailer take back for recycling or disposal each and every thing it sells. DEPOSITS on EVERYTHING. "Recycling fees" IN THE PRICE.

Then the long term: REDUCE POPULATION BY 80% over the next millennium ("or else" ... WE become the biggest and most permanent disaster of them all, worse than you can imagine).

THEN sit back and relax..

justhinkin said...

I forgot to add a quote I wanted to include, about "private industry" and the need for meaningful regulation.

From Saturday Night Live (approximate quote):

"This week the SEC charged Goldman Sachs with civil fraud because the company sold mortgage backed securities it knew would fail. If convicted, the company could .... WHAT? ... MAKE TEN BILLION DOLLARS?"

Seth Meyers, SNL.

justhinkin said...

Charles,

Among other things,

"... europe doesn't tax fossil fuel use into the ground to save the environment. They do it because they get nearly all of their oil from russia, and europe as a whole is very wary of being dependent on a state that, historically, has been as pushy and volatile as russia."

Whether you are right or wrong, they do it, and it is beginning to pay off for them, and eventually we will be sick over our continuing down "our road", thinking somehow it's going to end up "somewhere else" other than where it already has ... dependent and fostering environmental disasters (and eventually leaving our progeny with NO fossil fuels).

Are we in any better position because we get most of our oil from outside OUR borders?

"Preventing disasters" by bankrupting the perpetrator works just as well as ... well, as it did in the last 18 months, re our "economy". If we'd let "them all" fail, we'd be in the middle of the worst depression of all right now.

Did "they" think they would get bailed out if the house of cards fell? Hell, they hadn't even considered that it could!

Look, I was, PERSONALLY, all for letting the leaners fall ... every last one of them ... because I, unlike apparently 95% of the people in this country, don't believe in "credit".

I was perfectly positioned (in my own small way) to not only survive such a fall, but to actually "make out" from it (via deflation).

Unfortunately, I guess I don't have the insensitivity needed to just "cut loose" all of my "more foolish" countrymen, and women, and children.

They (the adults) listened to the call of credit. I didn't. They screwed up.

Reluctantly, I help bail them out, because I couldn't stand to see so many people in such pain as they all would be now.

I hope they learned their lesson, yet realize probably not. Still, I can't take that "libertarian" "I'm ok, I'm gonna be ok, and FU" attitude. And I cannot fool myself into thinking that disaster prevention by bankruptcy, after the fact, will work. I know far, far too much about human nature.

Thought, regulation, and oversight works (better than anything else)... IF those being regulated have NO power over the regulator. THAT's our problem, and I think that defines some common ground we share. See my own suggestion in a separate post ... take your government back ... from private industry.

I doubt you will ever get to vote straight libertarian, because I think too many people understand that libertarianism and human nature just don't mix well. Perhaps it could be tried in a small, homogeneous population, but not in a large diverse (in so many senses) one.

Good luck either way.

Charles said...

justtalkin:

You would argue that human nature and socialism (is that what you call the form of government you would endorse? i'm lacking a better word, not trying to label you...) mix any better than self-determination and liberty? I guess I disagree there....

this discussion couldn't go much further without getting into the rote of the ephemeral concepts underlying all of this.

I do feel that whatever happens here, the oil companies and the current administration will make out all-right. Obama will come out smelling like a rose when he uses this disaster to implement a slew of regulations. His base will be thrilled (although they should have been more upset than they were in the first place when he decided immediately prior to this disaster to sign off on a greater number of off-shore drilling permits). The oil companies will get the benefit of increased fuel prices. And believe me, the benefit from increased fuel prices is almost immediate from the top down in the oil industry. My father, an oil man of many years and a (sadly) palin/tea party republican, is excited about the prices going up when this is all said and done. It ensures more work and ensures that he will be able to charge more. Period.

The problem remains that america already drills cleaner and more safely than any other major oil producing nation. Americans and the world at large are going to continue consuming fossil fuels. If we regulate the snot out of our domestic oil industry, we let them make more money for less through artificially inflated oil prices, and we sign off on the terribly unregulated drilling practices of all the countries in the middle east, russia, and everyone else. We write them a blank check to mess their (our?) environment up so that we don't have to mess ours up. This would be a crime, and a beacon to american arrogance and apathy.

Regulation of industry based on elitist public sentiment is a slippery slope. These are matters of principle for me. You can't regulate or, as some no doubt would, shut down the domestic oil industry without enforcing unfair taxes or more naturally increased prices on the consumer. My interest is personal freedom, and that's what it all comes down to for me. This is not a left-right issue for me. Left and right look strikingly similar from where i'm sitting. Regulate industry, grow the government, and then what's next? Regulate my use of a salt-shaker? regulate my consumption of tobacco? how many kids i'm allowed to have? i know that this is a huge leap, so no need to point that out to me, but these things are the things that i think of when i imagine a bigger government. more inefficient bureaucracy, less personal freedom. it looks like a slippery slope.

And to say that europe's ridiculous taxation of fossil fuels is working for them might be true, but it doesn't apply here at all. Europe was a fully developed continent well before they even knew there was such thing as "the americas". The US, on the other hand, being the youngest super-power, is still in it's infancy in so many ways it's impossible to count. We are still developing the land in which we live. And it is a land that constitutes vast tracts of highway connecting us all together and allowing industry to move forward across a very spread out infrastructure. europeans don't drive like we do. Because they don't have to. It is a densely developed piece of land which has allowed them to setup great methods of public transportation. America is not to that point yet. There is a lot space between point A and B. And there are a LOT of points A and points B. this is an issue of geography. Comparing europe's energy policy to the united states can be done, but not without keeping the stark differences between the two places in mind.

but i'm a twenty five year old drug addict with no education who has only been clean for ninety some odd days. I can only be trusted about as far as i can be thrown.

justhinkin said...

And I hope you make it 100, Charles.

I don't care what you call the kind of government I advocate. I know what works (I look at the past successes). I just call it "what works".

"Regulation" rid us of slave labor, of the quasi slave labor that followed, of child labor. Regulation started the whole idea of preserving some land to remain in its wild state, and it has largely cleaned up the air and waterways around our big cities (all these things, I know, are before your time for comparison) ... the list does not end.

If not for that, right now you would be living in a stinking, choking cesspool of a country. I know, I've seen it much worse and I know exactly what made it better. I watched some of these processes from horror beginning to vast improvement (choking atmosphere in every major city, major lakes and rivers = open sewers and industrial dumps, highways and beaches lined with piles of trash and litter, on beaches up to three feet high).

I saw what made that difference, I know what has made the difference, and it WASN'T more "personal freedom". "Personal freedom" is what caused all of those things. People and their companies doing whatever they pleased without regard to the impact it had on others or on this country's future.

Regulation of all industry where mistakes can lead to death and/or disaster is simple, absolute necessity. Unfortunately so is the regulation of individual behavior ... and people keep turning to both of those because they don't like what happens when they are not there.

I would love to show your statement, "Regulation of industry based on elitist public sentiment ..." around in the Gulf coast states about now. I can make a good guess that your life can be calculated to not be directly affected by the spill.

I hate to tell you, but this country is not still in its infancy in any way I can think of. We are (still, but less thanks to regulation) in the process of destroying the land in which we live. We are using every non-renewable resource as if we expected none of our grandchildren to survive.

That includes things like soil, things you may never have thought about. It takes about 1000 years to form an inch of top soil in, say, the Midwest. Even now, more careful as we are than in the 1930s when we lost inches a year, we are losing an inch of top soil on average every 50 years.

I live in central Texas, where sod busting and overgrazing has left huge swaths of this state bare, or bare except for stuff even goats won't eat. It was a vast and vibrant grassland just 150 years ago or so.

All of these things happened and are happening with what you would term "only" limited "libertarian" freedoms. People doing whatever they want with their land, their industries. You seem to advocate more "liberty", when we are ruining our own house with the "liberties" we have now, though inarguably less than when we had MORE "freedom".

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justhinkin said...

(continued)

BP had too many liberties ... it was allowed to fail to follow procedures that, under even present regulation, would have almost certainly prevented the blowout of this well. This was not a failure of technology or equipment. It was a failure caused by skipping procedure (that caused the failure of equipment) ... and should have and would have been prevented by regulation and oversight and inspection.

Are you seriously advocating letting BP and everyone else skirt safety rules and regulations to shave an extra day or two at a drilling site when the result can be a serious loss of drilling personnel and equipment, permanent loss of the livelihoods of tens of thousands, the loss of huge areas of irreplaceable habitat, the loss of recreational use of a large portion of our coastline, and the loss of 30% of the country's sea food resources? THAT is what you are saying.

Enforcing those regulations does NOT "artificially inflate" the cost of oil thus produced ... it causes us to pay THE REAL COST of producing it. Do you seriously think WE are not going to pay for the cleanup through higher prices. I know that you know we are ... you so stated, yourself, through higher prices. So how is it going to cost us more if, instead of careless disasters, we have DULY careful drilling procedure?

Ruining your own home because the neighbors are ruining theirs "worse" (and "saving money" in the process) is an excuse?

My final word. You are correct about one thing: this country is becoming less and less "libertarian". This country is also becoming more and more stable; the WHOLE of the population is gaining freedoms that many of us (you) take for granted; and it is becoming, still, a country better preserved for your children and theirs, and a safer country in which to live and work.

Freedom to do "what you please" (personal and industrial) brought us slavery, child labor, unmitigated pollution and man-made disasters (I'm thinking maybe you haven't studied much history?) and deadly work places. Does this sound familiar? As in "China", now? So would your recommendation to them be to get rid of what little regulation and oversight they have to "help" that situation?

I do not see how anything could be clearer. Unlimited freedom, personal and industrial, not only clearly has failed before and does not work, it causes continuing disaster when it fails. Doing without regulation and regulators for industry would be just like doing without law and police for the individual. You may advocate such, but you would do well to at least understand why few others do. It doesn't work.

As population increases and our own failings (personal and industrial) continue to rain in our faces, the overall thought of the humanity involved is toward more, not less regulation. There is a reason for that. It's what works.

If you really feel lacking in education, certainly some history would be a good place to start. I would say that some of the positions you take on matters would be hard to cling to in the face of history ... of what happened in times when things were more like what you advocate. I am tempted to say that you cannot know what you are advocating if you do not know the history of what has happened in the past ... because it's true.

Your keyboard and google are all you need. Feed your mind something healthy and find out. Learn about how bad pollution in air and water was around cities in the 1960s and how it has improved ... and why. Hint: it was NOT because of "libertarianism".

Charles said...

justtalkin:

IMHO, you've failed to address the biggest point i've made (that regulating domestic energy production even more than it already is will serve to empower countries with less regulation to create more environmental damage than we would if we left regulation the way it is now (or even reined it in slightly) and merely removed liability caps and backdoor subsidy deals for oil companies), but you HAVE effectively devolved to nearly slandering me, the lone dissenting voice in this thread, as a way to prove your point. Which i suppose was inevitable and does not shock me in the least.

Interestingly, you presume to know what I have or have not read or what i do or do not understand about history... and are vocal about your assumptions.

also interestingly, you say that you "do not see how anything could be clearer". You don't see "how"? In a country where so many people disagree with your view points? There is a huge percentage of the population that stands in steadfast disagreement with you. Logically, for me, in my limited experience, the FIRST sign that something isn't clear is when i see that there is a large portion of people that believe one thing while another portion believes nearly the opposite...

I suppose that is the biggest problem in America today: partisan government that is so polarized that it is crushing itself and its constituants under the weight of it's own fight against itself, and a constituency that must, as a result, become equally dug in to the same kind of politics. Couple that with a media machine funded by both sides of the spectrum and making boatloads of money from fanning the flames of dispute, and you have a perfect storm of arrogance and closed-mindedness (on both sides).

When we become polarized, we frequent blogs that we know already agree with our point of view, that we might express our grandiose and narrow minded view-points without fear of reprimand. We consume one type of news program on TV. We listen to one kind of radio. We read one newspaper. and when a voice of dissent comes into our carefully constructed sphere of reason (outside of which we choose to see nothing), we become more grandiose and more entrenched than ever, failing to learn, failing to teach, and CERTAINLY failing to address real arguments by instead slandering others.

But, then again, i know many who don't exhibit such behavior, as well. It's not all bad. And maybe i just caught you on an off day.

We all know that you're right... right? cause i couldn't have read "the jungle". I couldn't understand the repercussions of child labor on the health and longevity of generations of people, nor the need for basic sanitary/cleanliness regulation. I couldn't have read "roots", right? I certainly couldn't understand the lasting effect of the world's most despicable slave trade ever which happened right here in our back yard. I couldn't be versed in the writings and thoughts of nader and president roosevelt, or (farther back), Thoreau, or anyone who has ever advocated conservation and environmentally sustainable living. Furthermore, i am certainly advocating all of these atrocities by suggesting that more regulation to an already heavily regulated oil industry may not be the answer to the world's problems... right?

i'm probably a bigot too...

I'll retire this now though before we end up besmirching mauigirl's articulate and fun blog with anymore misplaced energy.

BTW:
america is in it's infancy. compare it's life in years and generations to the life in years and generations of all other developed countries, and that ought to be clear.

oh wait... scratch that... i keep forgetting i'm ignorant of all things historical.

Maris said...

Now this is a real "shanda." In the first place, I don't understand how the company could even be allowed to drill without having the needed equipment that would address matters like oil spills(which is actually the biggest risk and reality they have to deal with). Secondly, you're right: I don't think the government or the company concerned is doing enough to even mitigate the damage. If it isn't enough that we are currently suffering from the effects of our own human follies, as proven by global warming, we have to deal with yet another self-inflicted disaster. What other kinds of environmental damage would people think of next?