(The following is a revised version of an article posted a few days ago.)\
This is the bitter reality of the American present, a period in which big business has cemented an unholy alliance with big government against the interests of ordinary Americans, who, of course, are the great majority of Americans. The great majority of Americans no longer matter.
By Steve Klinger
One month after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and environmental catastrophe in the Gulf, the new Tea Party hero, Rand Paul, fresh off his foray into rewriting the Civil Rights Act, thinks the Obama administration is being too tough on BP. After all, accidents happen, he said on Good Morning America last week after his upset win in the Kentucky GOP senatorial primary. Here’s the full quote:
“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.’ I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business,” he said. “I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it’s part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.”
It sure is “un-American” to blame, let alone regulate, private enterprise, especially if it’s willing to pay for its screw-ups. Trouble is, there may be hell to pay, not just Louisiana fishermen. The latest very cautious and reluctant estimates are that some 70,000 barrels of oil (plus additional gas) are hemorrhaging every day into the Gulf ecosystem, not the 5,000 BP had the audacity to claim. Some estimates run as high as 100,000. The oil is accumulating in huge underwater pools; some is entering the “loop current” and oceanographers say it could reach the Gulf Stream, there to be carried up the East Coast and perhaps eventually to Europe. Worse yet, scientists fear the methane gas shows signs of choking off oxygen supplies and could create oceanic dead zones. You don’t need to be a marine biologist to figure out the potential consequences of major disruptions to the aquatic food chain.
Let’s hope that Paul, an ophthalmologist and Lasik surgeon, is better at correcting myopia in his patients than detecting it in his political vision. Then again, as Bill Maher noted, does anyone even want an eye surgeon who says casually that “accidents happen”?
Meanwhile, the oil and gas continue to gush, the hurricane season is around the corner, and a nation that has sent probes to Mars and put men on the moon waits for an oil company with a history of incompetence and environmental abuse to figure out how to cap a broken pipe. Their main answer so far has been to saturate the area of the spill with chemical dispersants that add new poisons to the lethal cocktail churning in our coastal waters.
And no, Rand, the Obama administration is not putting its boot heel, or even a bare toe to BP’s throat. Those whose compassion is for the oil giants may fret, but we might better ask why the White House is allowing BP to conduct the cleanup while the Department of Energy “investigates”? Is Obama afraid that if he takes charge of the cleanup he will own Deepwater Horizon? Or is it more that the 11 who died and the countless thousands whose way of life has been ruined are just collateral damage in the new world order?
Not only should BP pay for all reasonable claims and should its executives face criminal charges, they should be operating under strict federal direction because Obama should have declared a national state of emergency and enlisted the full resources of our military and scientific communities to send submarines and robotic devices to the ocean floor to stop the leaks.
I acknowledge the scientific and mechanical challenges of such an enterprise – but isn’t that exactly the problem? Private enterprise (the oil industry) seems to be the only entity with the expertise and technology (and of course the capital) to conduct operations a mile under water. Obviously these guys are better at drilling holes than capping them – an excellent reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to engineer blowouts that their “blowout protectors” can’t protect us from. Yet in a world where corporations rule they not only get to rape the planet but wind up in charge of the “cleanup.” And they get to do it on their own timetable.
If this massive and continuing spill doesn’t prove globally catastrophic, who’s to say the next one won’t? Would the Feds even tell us if the current spill does threaten the ecology of the entire planet? Wouldn’t want to create a panic, now, would we?
Call me an alarmist, but I think this event needs to be treated just like an asteroid heading for Earth: it needs a total mobilization of resources, assuming that the worst is possible. Maybe such discussions are being held behind closed doors. If they are, you can bet the powers that be are more concerned about Big Oil than the oystermen and the sea fowl.
The world needs to know the scope of this catastrophe, and America needs action now to protect the silenced majority we have become. It’s time for Washington to quit posturing about getting tough with corporate criminals and address the urgent situation in the Gulf like the emergency it is. And it’s time for Rand Paul to shut up.