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Deepwater denial

By Tom Toles

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Moment of truth

Okay, NOW can we have the moment of recognition from conservatives that, oh, removing, loosening and undermining regulation can have BAD consequences? The oil pours and pours from the hole in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Watching oil company efforts to plug the leak is a real-time slapslick comedy without the laughing part. Frustration, anger and dead and dying wildlife accumulate. It's unlike anything we've seen recently. Anything except that Wall Street meltdown.

So NOW can we have that moment, please? Liberals were expected to look reality in the face and acknowledge that maybe welfare laws were sometimes leading to outcomes opposite of what the theories promised. And liberals did. Conservatives: YOUR TURN. Sometimes leaving those backup safety devices off the wellhead, or off the financial markets, leads to catastrophe. Less is NOT always more. Ideology does NOT make the real world behave as commanded. Maybe a sane person is a liberal mugged by reality or a conservative washed up on a beach coated in tar slime.

So, I repeat, NOW? No. We have to wait for them to go through their double-down-on-crazy period first. --Tom Toles
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By Tom Toles  | May 26, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Environment  
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Comments

"WHO COULD HAVE FORESEEN??"
I believe YOU did Mr. Toles.

In your June 24, 1990 political cartoon you depicted an image of the Earth with 10 ships leaking oil dotting the surface. Each ship has a text balloon with a lame excuse..."WHOA! FREAK ACCIDENT"; "SORRY! WON'T HAPPEN AGAIN" etc. Then there is the very prophetic one in the Gulf that says "JUST A ROUTINE EXPLOSION AND FIRE".

It may be a 20 year old cartoon but it's still relevant.

Posted by: awinak | May 28, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Even Libertarians expect the government to regulate some things. However, that regulation need to done in a away that is effective and enforceable.

For example, the FDA for the most part does a very good job assessing food safty. This a legitimate government role in making sure that claims of safe food are veified.

However, on the other hand, many current financial regulations have made matter worse. Artificially low interest rates, lack of accounatbility to ratings firms and financial statements and of course bailouts which provide for unbalance subsidies to certain businesses and not others skews market forces.

Libertarian philosophy can be summed up simply as "don't hurt people, don't lie to them and don't take thier stuff." The governments role is to prevent people from doing those things.

To those ends we need to reasonably promote public safety (traffic laws, fire ordinances etc), prevent fraud (truth in advertising, accurate financial statements, accurate risk assessment), and in the case of the financial sector we need to prevent market failures.

That means making sure that we have lots of competition and low barriers to entry. Instead many regulations do the opposite and reduce competition and raise the barrier to entry. This causes adverse outcomes that can't be fixed by simply adding more ineffective regulation.

Posted by: BradG | May 27, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse


Tom, any liberal that has an idea how to stop the flow is my man. If, however, his idea involves my giving up another one of my freedoms, which is what he usually believes is necessary, then, I hope there's somebody else out there with another idea.

Posted by: quiensabe | May 26, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Whatever. The market will fix it. The market will fix everything. Let's all join hands and pray to the market.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 26, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The Gulf is what happens when one allows regulators discretion without oversight and power. Congress has for years allowed the special interests to influence and limit the power and roll of those who are suppose to protect us. Always remember the main purpose of government is to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is also there to protect us from those who wish to do us harm. It is not there to only protect the special interests and their wealth!

Posted by: MyVoice3 | May 26, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Mr. Toles. I agree with you. I hate to say it, but I'm beginning to think BP doesn't really want to stop the leak. To what end, I can't say. I'm tired of hearing what doesn't work or the less than percent that it will or won't work. Or the last time we had a leak this bad it took a year to stop. Give me a break! With our technology, no contingency plans?? What kind of people run this company???

Posted by: Halo7 | May 26, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"It's just an accident, things happen" according to Ron Paul....hmmmm, if that's the case, let's remove other government interference in our daily lives:

1. Get rid of all DMV's and rules of the road. We don't need no stinkin government telling US how to drive!
2. Get rid of the laws that make it mandatory to have car insurance or a driver's license. I don't need no big brother telling me how to drive or when to stop at a stupid light. I go when I want to go...Give us FREE!!
3. Let's just end all traffic laws period. They infringe upon our rights as citizens. If I want to drive on your lawn, that's my god given right as an American.
4. Suspend all federal gun laws. If I want to buy a vulcan cannon and fire it in my backyard while your kids are playin in yours, mind your business! I'm on MY property!
5. Suspend all noise infraction laws. If I want to buy 2 million subwoofers and play NWA at ear-shattering levels, on my property, then it's my unalienable right to do so. How's about a little "F the Police" on repeat?

And that's just the icing on the cake....heck, I'm with the Tea Party...I don't want any kind of government, state or federal, infringing on my God-given, unalienable American, God Bless America rights!

Posted by: massmedia77 | May 26, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

How, at this point, an ideology based on the notion that our businesses are too heavily regulated could continue to hold sway with anyone is completely beyond me.

Therefore, I hold that the "free marketeer" types mostly know that their message is contrary to reality, but are simply using this "ideology" as a cultural marker to promote tribalist resentment against the left.

Posted by: KBfromNC | May 26, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Pretty simple-minded, flawed thinking once again there Tom....
The problem is NOT insufficient regulation... the problem is government ineffectiveness in fulfilling its regulatory obligations. The fact is that we still do not know WHAT caused the explosion... perhaps just an accident, that no regulatory or bureaucratic effort could have prevented; easy to fix blame where it's most convenient for your overall agenda. Perhaps, indeed a safety lapse that was pure negligence.
What I find the most amazing, is why there was NOT the immediate deployment of containment structures around that site, completely.. even before it sank?? That's where the government should have focused their efforts, instead of dithering, and waiting a week until it was too big to contain....WHY don't we ask THAT question, of our lord and savior BHO???? All I hear is who's to blame (BP), who with pay (BP), and alot of words.
Frankly , my most cynical side believes that secretly Barrack is quite pleased with the present situation, and likey outcome. Lots' of devastation, dead seabirds, finanical disaster for the seafood industry, AND on top of all that you put the last nail in the coffin of that pesky domestic oil drilling idea. Another Obama success story.

Posted by: Shrimper | May 26, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Don't hold your breath Mr. Toles. What will happen is conservatives will say, "Look what happens anyway with regulation. It doesn't work. May as well get rid of it all." There appears to be no cause and effect gene in todays so called conservatives. They fight to "starve the beast" and then blame the beast for being in debt and incompetant. Up is down. Older I get the more Paul Simon was right. "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

Posted by: kchses1 | May 26, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The sketch and comments are right on. In the Nast tradition - something about the comic satire of Mr. Tole's cartoon ink gives us hope that leaders will be held accountable or publically recognize their mistakes (like welfare's negative consequences or the horrible consequences of systematic deregulation of Environmental protections or the financial industry). Keep at 'em, Mr. Toles!

Posted by: martin44 | May 26, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I went to Three Mile Island immediately after their accident to help them deal with the situation which injured no one and killed no wildlife and destroyed no wetlands. We brought the situation under control and kept it that way. If the intensely regulated Nuclear industry had been as inept as the offshore drillers we might have lost thousands of citizens, but not one person was ever in any danger of dying. Conversely, if the offshore drillers had to prove they could handle any reasonable, and many unreasonable accident scenarios we would not be watching our beloved oceans and beaches polluted by oil. The Nuclear industry is required to analyze, evaluate and plan for multiple accident scenarios, and have equipment and procedures in place to deal with them, and it works. I don't understand. The economic, environmental and human impact caused by the BP fiasco will be thousands, if not millions of times worse than TMI.

Posted by: bavery1 | May 26, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

This is an interesting point, and one that is rarely made by the screaming ninnies of the left.

Let me ask one simple questions: what piece of legislation or change in the current regulatory scheme was proposed that would have prevented this accident (please be specific). Considering that the exact cause of the blowout is still not know, this should be interesting.

I fully agree that Ideology does not make the real world behave as commanded, so lets hear it Mr Toles. What specific change was proposed and rejected that would have prevented this. Please describe, in detail, what these “backup safety devices” were, when their addition was proposed (by anybody) and who specifically rejected them.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | May 26, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Tom, you said, "Liberals were expected to look reality in the face and acknowledge that maybe welfare laws were sometimes leading to outcomes opposite of what the theories promised."

I do not think you are being fair comparing the isolated, anecdotal cases of "Welfare Cadillac Queens" with the consequences of governmental failure to regulate business and industry. Our welfare programs actually worked very well, and because a few individuals found themselves able to scam the system, well, a few individuals ALWAYS find a way to scam the system no matter what the system may be. It's a human nature thing -- sometimes the bad guys prosper.

But by and large, the "failed liberal policies of the '60s" only failed because they were abandoned in the Nixon '70s before they were able to bear full fruit. Before those policies were undermined, gutted or eliminated by Nixon, poverty had begun to decline steeply and at an increasing pace. Those policies did not fail -- they were administered in bad faith by Republicans who wanted them to fail.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | May 26, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Yep. Definitely not wreck-less.

Posted by: CynicalC | May 26, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

bobbo2:
Enforcing the laws is an Executive branch function.
Bush presided over the September '08 meltdown and his Treasury secretary devised the bailout.
And it is "reckless" not wreckless.

Posted by: ACounter | May 26, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles is forgetting that this spill does not prove that regulation is needed because the spill does not matter. You see, Jesus will be here soon and he will make all things as new. Remember, you can't reason with the unreasonable and you can't argue with crazy.

Posted by: Kevin71707 | May 26, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Blaming Conservatives for the lack of regulation of the oil industry? Or the financial crisis? What's next? I don't think Bruno Richard Hauptmann was a Conservative, so you can't blame us for the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. The left loves regulation. But it seems when the regulation is there it is not exercised. No person left or right wants oil pumping out of the ocean uncontrolled. I still remember that Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd were in charge of the Congressional Finance Committees when the bubble burst. Not exactly card carrying Conservatives. The Democrats have run the show in Congress during both of the crisis' you have named. If they have these regulations in place I suggest that they do their job and regulate. As a Conservative I want my government to protect the people from danger, as per the Constitution. Safety regulation and wreckless financial dealings by private Government entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Wall Street fall under that protection. The left is more interested in how much salt I use lately than in useful regulation.

Posted by: bobbo2 | May 26, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

taxcutsin12: you say "Wall Street invests most of their campaign contributions with Democrats who have run the regulations for the last 4 years."
Funny, regulations are enforced by the Executive branch, which has NOT been Democratic for four years. Also, Paul Krugman mentions in a column Monday: "So far this year, according to The Washington Post, 63 percent of spending by banks’ corporate PACs has gone to Republicans, up from 53 percent last year. Securities and investment firms, traditionally Democratic-leaning, are now giving more money to Republicans. And oil and gas companies, always Republican-leaning, have gone all out, bestowing 76 percent of their largess on the G.O.P."
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/24/opinion/24krugman.html

Posted by: ACounter | May 26, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Why do liberals even care about Wall Street since they always say only rich Republican's invest there, but funny that Wall Street invests most of their campaign contributions with Democrats who have run the regulations for the last 4 years.

Posted by: taxcutsin12 | May 26, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

NOPE, I don't miss your old oil guy yet who did the energy policy behind closed doors (as they did everything!). This is their policy. Pardon us for trying to fix the economy you drove in the ditch first. It was healing and like clockwork, minerals mgt fails to do its job again. This is his oil spill just like the financial meltdown which happened on his watch and the wars an the deficits they left. You can't clear out a bunch of career govt employees in 17 mos. It could take months, even years to jump thru all the hoops to do that. He'll follow all nec steps if they don't leave or retire on their own like the drilling mgt guy. He'll get it fixed and you'll elect more oil people & it will be torn down again!

Posted by: carolerae48 | May 26, 2010 2:19 AM | Report abuse

Here in America I am not sure why we feel like we have to poke holes very deep below the ocean surface and even deeper below the bottom with all that Alaskan oil, which is also an environmentally risky endeavor aka. Valdez, is being shipped elsewhere and not a drop is refined or used in our own country. Would it not be better to keep our energy resources for ourselves. What is wrong with being a little greedy when it comes to something so important for all Americans. Keep our coastline risks at a minimum.

I am also a firm believer that some form of sabotage was used to cause such a disaster by a crew that had a previous safety record that was spotless.

God Help US Save The World And It's Environment

Posted by: JONAHandtheFISH | May 25, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles,
I don't always get to the Washington Post but when I do I always want to see your sketch. Today is the first time I have read your comments. And I love them. It adds so much to your sketch. You remind me of Will Rogers and the country could use his comments... so thank you can keep on coming on.
Much appreciation.
Bob Gannon

Posted by: Rfgannon | May 25, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry manmade global warming will dry it all up and the NASDAQ is going to top 6000 soon. Hee Haw! PS: The rules and regulations are still there, something about the people who were supposed to be doing it and porn again? Miss the old oil guy yet?

Posted by: carbonhog | May 25, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

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