June 16, 2010
Katrina and BP, Two Sides of the Same CoinBy W. R. Wansley
Mississippi's Governor Haley Barbour, in the wake of hurricane Katrina, often blunted attempts of the media to goad him into criticizing the rescue efforts of President George W. Bush by stating, "Louisiana has the same president as Mississippi has." That is to say Bush's supposed inaction in the New Orleans' "come rescue me" fiasco was in sharp contrast to the boot-strap spirit of the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Now the Gulf oil spill has shed more light on the consequences of reliance on the federal government to a national disaster. In Katrina, a group of people relied on government to take them out. In the Gulf, a group of people have been trying to get in -- to apply American ingenuity to clean up the oil spill or prevent it from reaching the shore. Both groups have been held up -- by government.
In Katrina, many New Orleans people, after generations of government dependence, stayed behind, drained of initiative by their government's seeming ability to come to their aid. Those who depended on themselves rather than government did leave while those who had faith in government had no initiative to control their own destiny.
In the Gulf oil spill, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has begged for approval to put up temporary sand bars as a barrier to the oil. The EPA, worse than saying no, delayed and studied and pondered and then said no. We have seen countless stories in the news of innovation and ingenuity by Americans attempting to bring proven applications, equipment and tactics to bear on the oil. Each attempt is met with the same federal dithering, inaction and impedance.
In Katrina, energy and effort that should have been put into getting people out was instead diverted into protest, complaint and blame. Government conditioned these people to expect that government would deliver them. Regardless, the would-be rescuers were thwarted in their efforts by an ineffective Democratic governor who put politics over rescue, and an inept Democratic mayor who was just plain in over his head.
In the Gulf oil spill, there are presently dozens of individuals and small companies that have the ability to solve the oil clean up problem. After they show their process to the media, the inevitable question is asked, "Have you shown this to BP or the EPA?" Their all too familiar and depressingly consistent reply is, "yes, and they are considering it" or "yes, and they said they would get back to us". They have been "considering it" for over 50 days now.
In Katrina, the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast were hit by the brunt of the storm surge. Total devastation. This wasn't just some flooding caused by the breach of a Democrat Parish maintained levy. The people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are for the most part a mixture of industrious workers and former industrious workers called retirees. Their ability to make do and to utilize the outpouring of basic supplies of ice and water from individuals and corporations from upstate and around the country was a resounding success.
In the Gulf, one company has a fiber mat (Fibertect) that absorbs oil. Another company has a machine (the Voraxial Separator) that seperates oil from water. Several folks have demonstrated the incredible effectivness of plain ol' hay to absorb its weight in oil. Then there are Peat moss mats and hair mats that do the same. Again, people standing by waiting for the go ahead. BP says they have to get cleared from the Obama Administration and the Administration saying they are talking to BP - nothing happens.
Another company has a proprietary "molecule mat"; another has a "hydrophobic sand" and many have their on concoction of natural oil-eating microbes. One Florida Company has a soap made of plant extracts another has a type of dry ice that sticks to the oil and lifts it off the then clean sand. One man has tons of an airplane dispensed natural earth material that is extremely lipophilic (oil loving) which traps, holds and sinks the oil to be destroyed by oil eating bacteria. His reply from the EPA: "it is against regulations to intentionally sink oil".
One thing all these solutions have in common: they are private enterprise endeavors showing ingenuity from inventors and innovators who, yes, want to do good but you see they, gasp, may also want to make a buck in the process. Never mind that all these things were invented and developed long before the current crisis. One poor fellow -- the one with the hay solution -- actually was shown on the You Tube video wearing overhauls. While the man who came up with a floating hair mat after the Prince William Sound spill is from north Alabama. Now we really can't have that sort of thing going on, now can we?
Milton Friedman once asked why people assume that political self-interest is somehow nobler than economic self-interest. "Just tell me, he said, where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us?" Why, from a community organizer, of course. The private sector cleaning up the oil spill; private charities feeding people; Private gun owners protecting their family and property; now we really can't have that sort of thing going on, now can we?
Government PC pressure causes misallocation of resources into bad investments. Over the past couple of years, BP has spent millions of dollars publicizing its green initiative. Who can forget those disingenuous commercials, like the one of a teenage boy holding up some pathetic plant saying something like, "we can grow our own renewable fuel." BP also gave heavily to the Obama presidential campaign. It would seem they have not had a good return on these investments.
Bush didn't cause the hurricane and Obama didn't cause the oil spill but Obama did say that the federal government was best suited to deal with such disasters. Bush had a state and local government to deal with. But the oil spill is 100% federal -- or at least it was -- for now the oil has made its way to shore, protected all along its slow malevolent journey by Obama's federal government. It is his seeming inability to deal with private enterprise by allowing them to rescue the shoreline that is at issue here.
Touting windmills and solar panels instead of developing our 400 year supply of domestic natural gas while also discouraging relatively benign on shore and shallow water drilling are designed to do one thing: maintain a made up problem that government claims itself to be indispensable in solving -- but never does. It has no intention of solving problems but only "managing" them.
Katrina and the Gulf oil spill prove that, at best, government can only get in the way. But at worst -- like so-called global warming, lack of border security and unfunded Social Security -- they are all part of the same thing: government created problems that government prevents from being solved. The resultant discourse leads to weakening the resolve of the people to resist the "helping" heavy hand of government.
Put another way, government has an incentive to not solve problems, the Arizona immigration law being a perfect case in point where government has really shown its hand. Problems are its fuel -- fuel needed to empower itself and enslave its subjects. In the now infamous words of Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
Only time will tell just how much of Obama's ineptitude and impotence is by design -- for it would seem no one -- not even an unqualified community organizer -- is this pathetically incompetent. As with the Afghanistan troop deployment, once again, Obama dithers and the situation festers. Photo ops on the Gulf are to paper over his supposed ineptitude. Brave words are to gloss over his supposed impotence. If he is looking for someone's "buttocks" to boot, maybe he should look at the one whose rear end is up in the air in a notorious picture bowing to the Saudi King.