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Ron Hart: Which failed more, capitalism or government?
June 12, 2010 - Ron Hart
The inevitable pictures of pelicans covered in oil finally surfaced, solidifying this oil spill as the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. We have not seen this many pictures of unintelligent animals covered in oil since the first season of "Jersey Shore."
Now we ask the bigger question: Which failed us more, capitalism or government?
FILE - In this June 4, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by by National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen, makes a statement after being briefed on the BP oil spill relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region, at Louis Armstrong International New Orleans Airport in Kenner, La. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, file)
Since they are partners in this crime against nature, it is hard to say. The Minerals Management Service (I always love the way government attaches the word "service" to agencies like the Postal Service and Internal Revenue Service; it just shows they have a sense of humor) siphons $10 billion a year from oil companies that drill. This is not counting the roughly 30 percent tax per gallon at the pump. This cut, or "partnership," is supposedly for the MMS's fine safety oversight – much like the pimp gets paid to regulate his sub-contractors.
All I know is that, so far, the only solutions to this problem have come from the private sector. While they have not yet been successful, it shows that our government has no better ideas to offer. "Top Hat," "Junk Shot" and "Top Kill" sound like rejected titles of Bruce Willis movies. When BP says it's going to try all these crazy ideas, the Obama administration basically says, "Ok, anything you try is still better than anything we've got."
All Obama knows how to do is give a speech, tax his political adversaries and threaten more regulation – otherwise he really has nothing. Even his speeches have waned; at this rate, he may have to lay off three teleprompters.
Does anyone find it curious that the areas of business we have the most problems with are the ones most "regulated"? The financial sector, banks, health care, automobile manufacturing – and now energy – fall into this category. "Regulated" in America just means you have to hire more lobbyists and pay more politicians to protect you – from the government.
It seems we never have any issues with the truly free enterprise sectors of our economy, represented by Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, Caterpillar, FedEx, Google, Intel, Starbucks, Proctor & Gamble, Taco Bell and Apple. Hmmm – I wonder if there is a reason for that?
When an industry is forced into bed with the government over regulation, they come out as slimy as those birds in the Gulf now. The result is that the customer and society are forgotten in favor of "pay-to-play" politics and the buying of political cover for anything that might go wrong.
BP gave the most money to Obama. Ditto for Goldman Sachs. And, in fairness to Obama, if the Republicans had not lost power for becoming Democrats, BP and Goldman Sachs would be their largest contributors. These folks have no political ideology. They are just buying indulgent politicians, which is their best use of capital expenditure dollars when they are that heavily regulated.
BP had 97 percent of all flagrant violations found in the oil business by government safety inspectors, including 759 citations for "egregious, willful" violations, compared to only eight for the two companies tied for second. So BP was clearly spending their money on politicians, not safety.
If you buy Obama's stern speeches threatening the very businesses that donate heavily to him, then you believe that WWF wrestler who makes bravado based predictions about the demise of his opponent before their "wrestling" match. In reality, they go out for drinks afterwards and laugh at us for believing them.
BP has and will pay for this. And they should. At least when a business pays for its mistakes it does it with earnings, not like the federal government that does it by borrowing money that future generations will have to pay back. I am sure Obama will make BP pay money on this, probably to the thug SEIU or unions in Detroit so hurt by Gulf of Mexico spill.
What Obama fails to realize that his constant blame game is wearing thin. Events continue to unmask the fact that government does not have real answers.
Blame is not a solution Mr. President. "Plug the damn hole," are words, not a fix. You need to understand the difference between rhetoric and competence.
Sadly, at the end of the day, you and your beloved government had fewer resources and ideas to plug this oil leak than a company that attempted to put a "top hat" on it and considered shooting old tires and golf balls at it. That says it all.
Ron Hart is a libertarian op-ed humorist columnist, author, TV and radio commentator. He can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com or www.RonaldHart.com.
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