Does the BP Spill Validate Socialism?

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne uses the BP oil disaster as a teaching moment about the S-word:

[T]his is an excellent moment to recognize that our arguments pitting capitalism against socialism and the government against the private sector muddle far more than they clarify [...]

"Deregulation" is wonderful until we discover what happens when regulations aren't issued or enforced. Everyone is a capitalist until a private company blunders. Then everyone starts talking like a socialist, presuming that the government can put things right because they see it as being just as big and powerful as its Tea Party critics claim it is.

But the truth is that we have disempowered government and handed vast responsibilities over to a private sector that will never see protecting the public interest as its primary task. The sludge in the gulf is, finally, the product of our own contradictions.

An interesting theory. Meanwhile, here are some interesting facts:

* The 1980s anti-regime movement in Socialist Hungary was animated largely by environmentalist concerns.

* Czechoslovakia, and especially the you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it environmental hellscape of Northern Bohemia, was one of the most polluted places on earth during Really Existing Socialism. Since the re-introduction of capitalism, it has become one of the most rapidly improving.

* Kazakhstan is a nightmare.

* Raise your hand if you remember Russia's colossal 1994 oil spills in the arctic, and how people then judged Moscow's clean-up efforts.

* Speaking of which, there was a comprehensive study [PDF] of the world's oil spills between 1986-1996 published in April 2003 by the Joint UNDP/World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme. One of its many unsurprising findings was that in the former Soviet Union (FSU), 60 percent of oil spills weren't even measured for environmental effects. One-party states, oddly enough, are not very responsive to their citizens' desire for transparency, let alone environmental health. Furthermore,

Even if only the 42 incidents with information about effects on the soil are used, 24 out of the 42 incidents or about 57 percent resulted in significant pollution, compared to 36 out of 122 incidents or 30 percent in Western Europe. [...]

The severity of spillage, measured by the amount of oil spilled, is higher in the FSU than in Western Europe. The reason could be poor contingency planning and delayed responses to spills when they occur; poor detection procedures; long distances between emergency shutdown valves; or the larger average diameter of pipelines in the FSU than in Western Europe. [...]

[T]here are more mechanical failures and operational errors in FSU than in Western Europe. This could be due to the utilization of poor pipeline materials, poor construction standards, poor supervision, or lack of clarity of responsibilities in the legislative and regulatory framework. The higher number of spills in the FSU could also indicate that the Russian pipelines examined in this study are older than lines in Western Europe.

* Wait, did the study just dare to suggest that capitalist-country regulations are better than socialist-country regulations? Yes, it sure did:

Russian regulatory and monitoring regimes are more fragmented, less accountable, and less able to quickly delegate responsibility to the relevant agencies when spills occur.

To sum up: Capitalism does not = "no regulations and no role for the federal government during an environmental catastrophe." Socialism does not = "better environmental stewardship and quicker clean-up efforts." The only "muddle" on this question is the stuff between E.J. Dionne's ears.

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  • ¢||

    during Really Existing Socialism.

    The proper of-the-body phrase is "Actually Existing Socialism."

    Donald Sutherland is pointing at you and saying "PAAAAAAAAALIN!"

  • Matt Welch||

    Always translated from the Czech as "Really," in my memory.

  • ||

    Matt is correct. The original terminology was "Realny socializmus" coined by KSC (Czechoslovak Communist Party) in 80s to account for glaringly obvious failings of the regime. Having said that, I doubt that Matt's argument will register. American leftists have completely compartmentalized the failure of socialist countries in the former Soviet block. They will simply discount this as irrelevant.

  • ||

    "Deregulation" is wonderful until we discover what happens when regulations aren't issued or enforced."

    If the regulations are not enforced, you have not derregulated. Instead you have what we have now, lots of regulations but no one to enforce them because the regulators have been compromised.

    I also wonder if it has ever occurred to Dion that perhaps if we didn't try to regulate everything, we could do a better job of regulating the really dangerous things. When you have thousands of bureaucrats enforcing millions of rules, it is hardly surprising that no one would notice when really important regulations are being ignored or not enforced. This is especially true of safety regulations where nothing bad happens unless something goes wrong.

    Dion also might want to ask himself why it is that the US government is one of the worst polluters in the country? Reason goes easy on him here. You don't have to look at the old Eastern block. You only have to look at things like Rocky Mountain National Arsenal or any number of grossly polluted defense sites. If the government can't keep itself from polluting, how is it supposed to be so effective at preventing others?

  • Michael||

    Because the government knows best at governing other peoples' lives and activities. If it makes a mess in the process, oh, well. Its intentions are good.

  • cynical||

    You don't understand, libertarian fool. Regulations are a commodity. If you have 10 regulations, then you're 10 times as safe as with just one. The actual content and enforcement of the regulations are irrelevant, thus why we can toss around words like "regulation" and "deregulation" without elaborating.

    As for the article, does Chernobyl invalidate socialism? People are going to fuck up no matter what you do, but at least if the fucker-uppers are not in the government, there's a much better chance that they'll be held accountable after the fact.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Here's an interesting article at NRO about the BP oil spill.

    Basically it points out that we are taking more risks by drilling more in deeper waters because a lot of the easier places to drill (like ANWAR) have been placed off limits by the politicans catering to the environmentalist wackos.

    http://article.nationalreview......rauthammer

  • ||

    Goes to show you that convential wisdom often isn't. I'm reminded of this great article by one of the founders of Greenpeace:

    To address climate change, we must use more wood, not less. Using wood sends a signal to the marketplace to grow more trees and to produce more wood. That means we can then use less concrete, steel and plastic -- heavy carbon emitters through their production. Trees are the only abundant, biodegradable and renewable global resource.

  • ||

    The author of that articled excepted, environmentalists almost never have a grasp of second order effects. Environmentalism is a blunt instrument used to prevent the building of anything near anyone.

  • ||

    True. It was like this guy saw the light, and the article was really an eye opener for me.

  • Michael||

    Patrick Moore isn't the typical environmentalist. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Moore_(environmentalist)

  • Michael||

    The parenthesized portion should be part of the hyperlink, by the way.

  • ||

  • wackyjack||

    Sure, it's a nice article and all, but it doesn't really make sense. Where should we be using wood that we don't? Residential construction (and a fair portion of commercial) uses lumber. It's cheap, it's easy to work with, and the supply is plentiful. People like building with wood. When they don't, it's for pretty good reasons, like structural integrity and long-term cost efficiency. Even if we subsidized the cost of wood for construction, people would still choose steel for many applications because it's simply better.

    There's another big reason to not use wood in construction, but it's slipping my mind. Something about Chicago and 1871. Meh. It'll come to me over time.

  • Apaulled||

    But the government's 9/11 story requires that steel be vulnerable to fire too. Are you daring to question the official account of 9/11, you paranoid "Troofer"?

  • wackyjack||

    u dumb moran! tehy expossed the steal to chemtrials and that made it melts! read a fuckin book u sheep

  • AlmightyJB||

    Nice job Matt.

  • ||

    Also, maybe Obama wouldn't be in so much trouble over this if his first thought when the accident occurred had been "oh my God we have got to do something" rather than "let's make sure this gets blamed on the right people and we get to score the proper political points about it".

  • Wesley||

    As the former employee of the US arm of a foreign state oil company, I can tell you without reservation that governments rarely never hold themselves to the same environmental standards that they try to enforce on privately-owned businesses they compete with.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Off Topic but I haven't been blasted in the gonads by Balko this week...'sup with that?

    NTTAWWT

  • Jordan Elliot||

    Dear Gog... I'm scared of what he's gonna post Monday morning.

  • hmm||

    I'm offering a program for weekly gonad blasting. Only $19.99 to start and $2.99 a month. Your choice of steel toe work boot, running shoe, pointy elf shoe, or crowbar.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    If I choose the elf shoe can I upgrade later at no extra cost?

  • hmm||

    Only if you choose the top of the line elf shoe with little bells. Otherwise there is a $5 upgrade fee.

  • PR||

    PEMEX IXTOC 1 oil spill 1979-1980. Largest accidental oil spill ever.

    state-owned PEMEX invoked sovereign immunity

  • ||

    PEMEX and Sunnoco (the government owned oil company in Venezuela) both have horrible environmental records. Nothing is a surer ticket to inefficiency, waste and pollution than a government owned industry.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Sunoco? Do you mean Citgo?

  • ||

    My mistake.

  • ||

    Citgo, John, not Sunoco.

  • ||

    Cajun! Damn you!

  • Ragin Cajun||

    The Kochtopus has a direct link to my brain. Helps me type faster.

  • alan||

    +1

    Every now and then I inhale a little Kochtopus brand refer. That's some mighty good shit. Like Purple Jesus, but smoother.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Actually, he might mean Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., (PDVSA) which is the Venezuelan equivalent of PEMEX. While Citgo is a wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos, Citgo's activities concern refining, transporting and selling petroleum products, not exploration and development. More importantly, I'm not aware of Citgo's environmental record being any poorer than any other similarly situated domestic refiner, such as ConocoPhillips or BP. I don't think you can say the same for PDVSA. Would love some cites pro or con.

  • ||

    Everyone is a capitalist until a private company blunders.

    Speak for yourself, stupid.

  • Attorney||

    That's one of the most boneheaded sentences I've read in a long time.

  • ||

    He's talking about the hypocrisy involved in saying we need less government right up until something happens to you, and then crying for the government to do more. A fair criticism, I think.

  • B.P. (not an oil company)||

    As PJ O'Rourke noted on the Eastern Bloc's shoddy environmental record, to paraphrase: the focus of state power in these communist countries was not environmental protection, rather it was improving life for the working masses. And they did such a swell job at that, too.

    As for the British Petroleum oil spill thing, I guess our society (or its body politic, at least) is not prepared to hear "shit happens".

  • Jorgen||

    If you want less shit to happen, you figure out what went wrong and fix it.

  • ||

    The mistake is only examining Soviet Bloc countries, whose leaders couldn't really give a rats ass about people. All that stuff about improving worker's livelihoods was shallow ideology.

    If you switched the comparison to the socialist countries of Western Europe and Scandinavia you would see that the conclusions about socialism and environmentalism are not so clear cut.

    The real dichotomy is not Soviet style socialism and Western Capitalism. (Yet essentially what you had in the Soviet Union was State capitalism.) Everyone knows who one that one. The real comparison is to be made between European style Capitalism and American style Capitalism. The former shows that socialism and capitalism are not mutually exclusive catagories like so many would like to insinuate.

  • ||

    European style capitalism has managed to do what two world wars couldn't, drive them into bankruptcy. Further, Europe has a worse record regarding oil spills than the US does.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/.....index.html

    That is one example. Just google Europe and oil spill and you find many others. The US in contrast hadn't had a major oil spill since the Exxon Valdez.

  • ||

    Sorry, you're wrong about that:

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001451.html

  • Zeb||

    Not sure its fair to say that WWII didn't bankrupt Europe. I don't think they were in any better financial shape in 1946 than they are now. There just won't be a Marshall Plan now.

  • ||

    Actually, its just plain inaccurate:

    "Britain after World War II was victorious but bankrupt."

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What.....ar_2_ended

    Furthermore, Europe is not bankrupt. Even Greece didn't go bankrupt because of an EU led rescue package. The US might have very well gone bankrupt if it hadn't been for countries such as China, and Saudi Arabia, etc., buying treasury notes.(Read: Socialism for corporations.)

  • ||

    Greece didn't go bankrupt because someone bailed them out. But if left to their own devices, Greece would be bankrupt. And the UK, Spain, and Ireland are not far behind.

    And as far as the US, it is true that we haven't gone bankrupt because people will still lend us money. But that is true of any country with a deficit. And whatever danger we are in of going bankrupt, it is because of our similarity with Europe.

    Seriously, why do liberals have such a hard time with math? The European style low birth rate high public sector social welfare state is unsustainable. .

  • ||

    We have the same birth rate problem and a lower-degree version of the welfare problem here, but one big difference is how much America endeavors to assimilate immigrants and put them to work building our society (and funding our social programs).

    Considering that, whether you favor open borders or not, you have to admit that American immigration policy is an incoherent mess, that says something about Europe's attitudes toward immigration.

  • x,y||

    This is thin gruel. The U.S. is bankrupt (in the colloquial sense of the word) too if you consider all the unfunded liabilites.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    And for most of the same reasons as Europe... You know, plus the massive military empire.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Europe has been on military protection welfare from the United States ever since the end of WW2.

    If they handn't been, not only would they not have been able to afford their socialist welfare systems, none of them would even be in existence as independent nation states at all today.

  • Jorgen||

    I like that you didn't even feel the need to mention Chernobyl.

  • Corduroy||

    Governments will never account for a mistake that they can bury instead.

    See the following link for examples (the Soviet Cosmonaut program):

    http://jamesoberg.com/usd10.html

    It was standard practice to not announce launches prior to them occurring, that way, nobody would know if they flew off into deep space or bounced off the atmosphere and burnt up.

    The same principle applies to everything else, including environmental concerns. Politicians certainly aren't known for their mea culpas unless they get caught red-handed.

  • Attorney||

    This guy has a bad case of Friedmanitis.

  • Dr. Jenkins||

    I prescribe two punches, twice daily before meals.

  • ||

    I think part of what's being demonstrated here is that regulation can't be well enforced.

    For too many reasons to list.

    But among them, wasn't it the regulators who capped BP's liabilities? The regulators decided they wanted to drill, baby, drill to try to help insulate our economy from oil shocks caused by political events in the Middle East and elsewhere--and isn't that the most proximate cause of what we're seeing happen in the Gulf right now?

    The problem isn't that regulation isn't sufficiently rigid either--the last thing we need are regulations that are slow to bend when confronted with reality.

    Be sure--the same sorts of things happen everywhere there's regulation, albeit often less dramatically. It'll happen in healthcare--it's already happening.

    Politicians aren't the solution to our problems--and regulations aren't either. And getting new regulators isn't the problem...

    That's the lesson to take from this.

  • ||

    It was also the regulators who sat around with their thumbs up their asses and never had a blame to cap one of these wells.

    I think there is a place for regulations. But regulations only work in a sane world. In a sane world, we would look at all of the off shore drilling and have companies drill the hell out of shallower less risky areas before we started doing deep water drilling. And in a sane world, we would figure out a plan and make damn sure we knew how to cap a well at that depth before we let them start drilling.

    But we don't live in a sane world.

  • ||

    Considering the full gamut of problems caused by the combination of high pressure and low temperature at that depth, I'm not sure how you would reliably know how to cap this kind of leak until you actually have to do it. Recreating this situation in a lab is going to be extremely difficult if not impossible.

  • ||

    Everyone is a capitalist until a private company blunders. Then everyone starts talking like a socialist, presuming that the government can put things right because they see it as being just as big and powerful as its Tea Party critics claim it is.

    Then they weren't capitalists to begin with.

    Honestly, do you even know any actual capitalists? Just because they *say* that they are at the cocktail party in DC...

  • ||

    presuming that the government can put things right because they see it as being just as big and powerful as its Tea Party critics claim it is.

    What he misses here is that, while the government is just about as big and powerful as the Tea Party says, that doesn't mean its effective in actually solving problems.

  • ||

    The government is never going to take this over. The second they do it becomes their problem. Far better to let BP handle this. Also, AFAIK, the EPA doesn't have any actual operations folks - just inspectors, researchers and paper-pushers.

  • ||

    Inspectors, paper-pushers, researchers...

    And a SWAT Team.

    http://lawprofessors.typepad.c.....1207pk.pdf

  • Jason||

    By regulating them, it becomes their problem.

  • ||

    Of course, Mr Dionne, Science now seems to indicate that socialism is for children:

    http://news.sciencemag.org/sci.....alism.html

  • JAA||

    From the article, "Children start off like Karl Marx, but they eventually become more like a member of the International Olympic Committee."

    So they they start off as members of the people's collective, but wind up joining the mafia?

  • Madbiker||

    From the article: "'Adolescence is a very important period for shaping children’s fairness views.'"

    Chilling. Instead of taking this in the direction of allowing merit to determine reward, it could be twisted to using the vulnerable adolescent period to train them to accept reward and failure equally, thus fulfilling the dreams of socialist utopians everywhere.

    My experience with teaching adolescents is that they are amenable to a system where merit yields like rewards and that one is ultimately responsible for him- or herself. What does college do to rob them of that? (rhetorical question)

  • MNG||

    The headline is crazy. What, we wouldn't have energy needs under socialism, or need to extract resources? And there wouldn't be mistakes? Ever heard of Chernobyl?

  • MNG||

    The headline is crazy. What, we wouldn't have energy needs under socialism, or need to extract resources? And there wouldn't be mistakes? Ever heard of Chernobyl?

  • hmm||

    My Chernobyl reference > yours. You clearly didn't have your heart in it.

  • hmm||

  • ||

    Sweet!

  • MNG||

    We'd have double posts under socialism too...

  • ||

    But they would be more equitably distributed.

  • WTF||

    "Look at you, with two posts all to yourself. Why, these people over here have no post at all, yet you have two."

  • ||

    But you would still have to stand in line to get your extra posts.

  • ||

    And even then, the socialist Internet is really just a telegram.

  • ||

    +10

  • ||

    And they'd be the wrong size.

  • Chris||

    Win.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    The ultimate reason socialist/communist economies have such a nasty record on the environment is that governments are not accountable in any real (read monetary) sense. BP will have to clean it up and face fines and lawsuits. Governments have none of those worries in any real sense.

  • His Eminency||

    Seriously. Why validate someone so dumb by giving him Reason-time?

  • ||

    + 1 hour

  • ||

    "To sum up: Capitalism does not = "no regulations and no role for the federal government during an environmental catastrophe."

    And it really is possible to be both against big government and in favor of competent government...

    These people are fighting a straw man...

    We--the Hit & Run Commentariat--are the lunatic fringe these jokers are talking about...the people who supposedly don't see any role for government in a disaster.

    But my impression is that there are very few of us libertarian kooks here who don't think there's any role for government in a catastrophe.

    The only legitimate function of government is protecting our liberties and our rights--and that "rights" means property too.

    And by that definition, protecting our resources from the likes of BP seems like a pretty legitimate function of government.

  • Tony||

    Yet we have someone running for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky who thinks that our response to the disaster in the Gulf should be "oh well, accidents happen." We shouldn't punish BP (no mention of all the coastal industries that are being destroyed). I guess it's just all Darwinian competition, and that's the best possible world, or at least the "freest."

  • ||

    BP has pledged to fully compensate all those damaged. What else would you have them do?

  • Tony||

    It's not likely they will calculate their costs the same way government might. What is the cost of destroying the nesting grounds of a species of bird? Or destroying a public beach? Or destroying a fishing company?

    In China the CEO of a corporation that fucked up this royally would be executed. I wouldn't go that far. How about nationalizing the oil industry, firing their boards, and dismantling them slowly as we use their resources to build a clean energy infrastructure?

  • ||

    It's not likely they will calculate their costs the same way government might.

    The government can't even get out of their own way. They can't keep their own books properly. What makes you think they can do this, or much of anything, right?

    How about nationalizing the oil industry, firing their boards, and dismantling them slowly as we use their resources to build a clean energy infrastructure?

    I'd be angry at this statement if it weren't so pathetic.

  • Jason||

    They can't keep their own books properly.

    How many votes is keeping books properly worth?

  • ||

    Yes, Tony, the record of nationalized oil companies is ever so good on environmental issues.

    As for "It's not likely they will calculate their costs the same way government might", the courts will calculate the costs when these matters are litigated.

    As to how the birdies and buterflies fare, see paragraph one.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    What is the cost of destroying the nesting grounds of a species of bird? Or destroying a public beach? Or destroying a fishing company?


    There is a process for monetizing those costs.

    How about nationalizing the oil industry, firing their boards, and dismantling them slowly as we use their resources to build a clean energy infrastructure?


    Not until oil is more expensive than the alternatives.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I bet you anything that my CPA girlfriend could give a formula for monetary damages to destroying a public beach and a fishing company... Monetizing nesting grounds might be considerably harder since there's no actual trade or human utility happening there, but I'm sure something could be considered.

    Tony's real problem is that - just as he doesn't understand economics in any legitimate form, he also doesn't understand and can barely even conceptualize the basics of accounting or actuarial science.

    And of course, he's perfectly comfortable electing people who also don't understand the first thing about business to pull figures out of their asses.

    The kid fails so hard it's just becoming a joke.

  • Corduroy||

    Perhaps you would be satisfied to see BP bankrupted. I wonder what that would do. Like it or not, we are dependent on petrol and will be for the foreseeable future.

    I agree that BP should be held liable for damages, but I don't think it serves any greater purpose to put them out of business.

  • cynical||

    If BP's liability hadn't been capped, they'd need to take on more insurance to avoid bankruptcy, which would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher gas prices, so that oil consumers would be paying for the risks of drilling, rather than taxpayers or victims of the oil spill.

  • Chris||

    "How about nationalizing the oil industry, firing their boards, and dismantling them slowly as we use their resources to build a clean energy infrastructure?"

    Dude. This is the type of shit we post when we're pretending to speak for you.

  • ||

    How about nationalizing the oil industry, firing their boards, and dismantling them slowly

    Slow dismantling of productive capacity is pretty much inevitable when you nationalize any industry.

    as we use their resources to build a clean energy infrastructure?

    First, most of their "resources" are in the, you know, oil industry, so I'm not sure how you use them for anything other than filthy, filthy oil.

    Second, their revenues would be diverted to all kinds of things other than energy production of any kind, once Our Masters get their greasy mitts on them.

  • ||

    Did the candidate in Kentucky limit BP's liabilities before it went out there drilling in the Gulf?

    No, he didn't.

    So why obsess about some candidate in Kentucky? Why does everything, including what happened in the Gulf, have to do with some candidate in Kentucky?

    What are you, scared?

  • Ernie the Bear||

    We--the Hit & Run Commentariat--are the lunatic fringe these jokers are talking about...the people who supposedly don't see any role for government in a disaster.

    But my impression is that there are very few of us libertarian kooks here who don't think there's any role for government in a catastrophe.

    Fetching coffee and donuts for the people who actually know what they're doing would be the first useful thing some of these people did.

  • Tony||

    What the hell is the point of this response to Dionne? Kazakhstan is a nightmare, therefore we shouldn't regulate offshore drilling? I don't get it. Dumb.

  • ||

    You're not dumb, Tony. You're an idiot. A subtle, but important difference.

  • hmm||

    Sometimes, not so subtle.

  • Sam Grove||

    Would you suggest that the case for regulation is a case for socialism?

    Does regulation = socialism?

  • Tony||

    I don't give two craps. What things are named is so totally uninteresting to me. Bitching about isms sheds more heat than light. "Socialism" is more useful as a fearmongering buzzword than as a policy framework.

    Government should protect the public interest from all threats to it, including threats that come during the normal course of capitalism. You want the privilege of profiting off of the American people, you should have to abide by the rules they establish for doing business here. And it goes without saying that if your business makes a mistake that imposes vast external costs then you should be held accountable for every cent.

  • ||

    And it goes without saying that if your business makes a mistake that imposes vast external costs then you should be held accountable for every cent.

    Tony, you really need to try to understand the difference between "externality" and "compensable injury." They aren't the same.

    Example: You're barbecuing in your backyard. The smoke and smells drift over my yard. I'm a vegetarian and a rabid anti-smoking activist, and am highly offended.

    Did your barbecue create an "externality". I believe you would have to say yes.

    Do you owe me damages? No sane person would say so.

  • ||

    Further: This is impossible:

    Government should protect the public interest from all threats to it.

    Example: The only way to protect the public interest from all environmental threats due to oil production is to cease oil production immediately.

    However, this creates a threat to the public interest, namely, the collapse of the economy.

    Ergo, the government can't protect the public interest (whatever that is) from all threats.

  • ||

    "Government should protect the public interest from all threats"

    I was going to ask for a useful definition of "the public interest" that isn't just a blank check, and ask if threats should be considered in light of cost/risk, but....

    The more I consider this statement, I realize it's one of the stupidest things I've ever read.

  • Corduroy||

    Profiting off the American people is not a privilege, it's a right. I have the right to earn a living, I shouldn't need governmental permission.

    Profiting off the commons is a privilege and should be treated as such. You should learn the distinction.

  • mr simple||

    You seem to be under the delusion that when a company profits it is the only one that gets something out of the transaction.

  • PR||

    "Government should protect the public interest from all threats"

    report to the disintegration unit

  • ||

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    * Don't think that just because you wrote an "Emo" poem that you are Emo, because that just makes you a poser.
    * Make sure that the grammar and spellings are correct.

  • Madbiker||

    I would hand this out as an assignment to my students, but most of them have already internalized these instructions. Mind if I cut and paste for future reference, though?

  • Abdul||

    Ohh, but those countries weren't true socialists. In the true socialist country, the environement will be clean, picnics will go un-rained upon, and poop will smell like axe body spray.

  • ||

    So poop would smell worse than it does now?

  • ||

    Don't even come near me before nine in the morning.

  • ||

    Deal.

  • kinnath||

    Been to Russia in the mid 90s and mainland China in the mid 00s. Both were hideously polluted.

  • Corduroy||

    Same here. East Germany in '88. It was disgusting. Acid rain was so bad the bark was peeling off the trees.

  • Corduroy||

    Oh and it's hard to explain how bad the air in Shanghai is. LA is like a mystical lush and green Tolkien glen by comparison.

  • ||

    For Chrissake, I remember being shocked at how bad the air quality was in Western European cities in the '90s.

    Haven't been back, except for Amsterdam, since, so maybe its changed.

  • Jay||

    Don't let Maoist Tom Friedman know that you wrote this, or he may have you disappeared to a re-education camp on the site of the Amur River toxic spill.

  • ||

    But only during "China for a Day"

  • alan||

    Shorter E J Dionne

    If we have a problem, I know the solution.*

    Government, More! Bigger! Better!

    *results can vary and be nullified in the presence of nonbelievers.

  • Chinny Chin Chin||

    The draining of the Aral Sea is an especially fun example. No externalities in that agricultural policy. No sir.

  • ||

    What things are named The truth is so totally uninteresting to me.

  • Zeb||

    "we have disempowered government and handed vast responsibilities over to a private sector"

    This is really irritating. The assumption seems to be that in its natural state, government is responsible for and has power over everything. Everything not regulated is something the government has given away.

  • ||

    Matt, to be fair, I think you missed Dionne's point, at least the way I read the article.

    He's not saying we need a one-party state where the government is responsible for everything. "Our arguments pitting capitalism against socialism and the government against the private sector muddle more than they clarify."

    I believe he's saying that what we need is a robust tension between companies who are responsible to their shareholders and a government that is responsible to the public at large.

    You may disagree with his point, but listing the mistakes of one-party governments doesn't even address it.

  • ||

    I believe he's saying that what we need is a robust tension between companies who are responsible to their shareholders and a government that is responsible to the public at large.

    Idiot. Doesn't he know the Iron Law:

    Money and power will always find each other.

    Big Government and Big Business are natural bedfellows, not natural adversaries. That's why you need a small government of limited enumerated powers.

    Using Big Government to try to limit Big Business is self-defeating, because they are natural bedfellows. Even anti-trust law is more an arena for individual Big Businesses to try to enlist Big Government in their cause against other Big Businesses.

  • ||

    How about nationalizing the oil industry, firing their boards, and dismantling them slowly as we use their resources to build a clean energy infrastructure?

    *outright, prolonged laughter*

  • ||

    Has to be a spoof, right?

  • ||

    Shorter Dionne: "Big corporatist gummint is double plus good!"

  • ||

    Who is arguing that companies drilling in the Commons shouldn't be regulated? Anyone? ANYONE?

    The only failure here is the failure of regulations to make it crystal clear that in the event of catastrophic failure, you will be analy raped repeatedly on national TV.

    Caps on damages? As many have pointed out upthread, that is a regulation. And a failed one at that. Blimey.

  • bob||

    So deregulation is when the government promises to do a job that it ends up not doing? Dude is confusing me. The reality is government gives you the false security that you are being protected when the reality is you are not. I guess when government was giving out Energy Star certifications to bogus products that was the fault of deregulation also.

    Putting all that aside. For those that attempt to do things in life, not just sit on the sidelines and thinking you are an drilling expert because you read the New York Times or thinking you are an drilling expert because you write from the confines of the Washington Post, Shit Happens!! If E.J. Dionne attempted to do something in life he'd make mistakes but alas he gets to be perfect by doing nothing more in life than writing opinion pieces. I don't know why I have to listen to a person that has no manual labor experience.

    I've come to the conclusion these people are dumbfucks. Reading the article at the New Republic (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127234526), the writer finds it surprising Jindal would demand BP clean up it's mess. It's like these people deliberately go out the way to confuse, misunderstand, and mislabel another viewpoint. Naw, mofos just dumb.

  • Madbiker||

    "I've come to the conclusion these people are dumbfucks."

    Just now? My husband works as a welder and one of his assignments is to the Conoco-Philips refinery where crude is refined into various products and ethanol is produced. The safety precautions he has to take just to weld a single joint are complex and in all likelihood overdone, but he understands the necessity of making sure everything is done right. That still does not prevent accidents from happening, it merely increases the odds of safer operation. Anyone who does any sort of manual labor with heavy equipment, drilling rigs, high pressure pipe, farm machinery, pharmaceutical pill presses, hazmat clean up, biohazardous waste - in short, anything considered environmentally toxic or a public health risk will tell you nothing is certain when it comes to containment of risk. People who think otherwise have their heads buried in certain select body cavities.

  • ||

    The problem with gov. regulation of any industry is the government employees drafting the regulations are never going to know as much about the particular field they are trying regulate as the professionals hired by the companies.

    This is mainly because intelligent, accomplished people general want to be well compensated for their knowledge and gov. pay rates can't match corporation's.

    As a result, the government regulations are poorly designed, worded, implemented, and are five years behind the industry they are trying to regulate.

    It takes disasters like the oil leak, to them to think "oh yeah, we forgot to make that rule."

    On the other side, these companies have no incentive to fuck things up. Certainly, it's BP's fault that the leak occurred - bad design and engineering.

    Put the blame where it belongs. Criticize the poor engineering and the company, not off shore drilling. It's as if people started criticizing travel by automobile because quality assurance failed at purchasing accelerators that worked for toyota.

    Since bad engineering is the problem here, the government is certainly not the institution that needs to be in charge of anything. Even NASA contracts out the large majority of their projects because they know they don't have the capability to design anything that works from top to bottom.

  • ||

    This is mainly because intelligent, accomplished people general want to be well compensated for their knowledge and gov. pay rates can't match corporation's.

    We are seeing that equation inverted before our very eyes.

    Somehow, I don't think a brain drain from the private sector to Big Government is going to result in either a more robust private sector or a more competent government.

  • ||

    The FSU was never a "socialist" regime. It was a faux communist totalitarian regime. Comparing that to a democratic socialist government is silly so your whole argument is misinformed.

  • Paul||

    I had a friend once tell me, without even the glimmer of irony in his eye, that he wanted to show people in this country what unchecked capitalism looks like by taking them to Lake Baikal.

    I stared at him and waited for it to sink in. It never did.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Never underestimate the scope of willful ignorance inherent to anti-capitalists.

  • Ernie the Bear||

    Someone needs to kick E.J. in the balls until blood shoots out of his eye-holes. For the children, of course.

  • MikeS||

    Ah, disaster socialism appears once again.

  • ||

    We pay a prize for untempered greed and ambition. America is facing the consequences of its unbridled wish to consume, consume and consume! The BP is a wake up call that we must examine our values and learn to live the way the American Indians (we we destroyed) did, in harmony with nature.

  • ||

    Yeah, socialism doesn't necessarily equate to good environmental stewardship but using the former communist regimes to demonstrate this is a bit like demonstrating all that is wrong with Christianity using the Westboro Baptist Church

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