For decades now the American public has been fed the argument that “government is the problem, not the solution,” as the so-called trickle-down economics of Ronald Reagan were promulgated in the ’80′s, and then the tax cuts for the rich were enacted under Bush. Willfully and deliberately under the guidance of this ideological view the regulatory capacities of government were politically deleted, ignored – sometimes illegally – and undermined. Those agencies which were intended to supervise and regulate large businesses, whether in Wall Street or in Houston, were consciously packed with people who came from and served those industries. Their function was to block government controls and regulations, and to carry out, from within, the conservative wish to “get government so small it could be drowned in a bathtub.”
The end effect of this process is now destroying the Gulf of Mexico, as it had earlier destroyed the manufacturing base of America’s economy, and as it destroyed the livelihoods of more than 8 million Americans in the economic collapse of 2008. All of these can be directly attributed to the “conservative” policies of Reagan and Bush – and as well of Clinton, who pushed for NAFTA and for the “globalizing” practices desired by the corporate structures which had gone about steadily in buying the Congress, the mass-media, and finally, it seems, having taken over the entire government apparatus. The full consequence of these practices is fully visible in the unemployment rate in the US – officially pegged at 10%, but in reality exceeding 20%. It is seen in the destructive practices of corner-cutting profit-minded corporate actions throughout the American (and global) landscape: mountain-top removal in Appalachia, strip-mining in Montana and Wyoming, empty housing-bubble suburban tracts flanking our big cities, and now – despite the desperate attempts to hide it by the corporately owned press and by the government – the truly tragic catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to lax governmental regulation, to a corrupted bureaucracy of the MMS, and to favoritism for the oil industry from the highest levels of government, British Petroleum was allowed to drill a well one mile beneath the sea’s surface, with no means available to deal with any untoward event. It was allowed to by-pass an environmental impact assessment. It was allowed to not install a fail-safe mechanism in case of a blow-out. It was allowed to proceed despite having damaged an essential part of the well’s system (a rubber collar). All this occurred courtesy of the mantras recited by rote from our ideologues of the Right, who insisted that the free market is self-adjusting, delivers to the broad public the maximum of efficiency and production, and who worked to break down all regulatory capacities which might restrain free market capitalism from carrying out its full functions. The result is the present catastrophe which is still in play, and which will doubtless impose a vast and ugly bill upon this generation’s grandchildren.
There can be no question that the Obama administration is to be severely faulted for failing to sense the scope of the Gulf tragedy far earlier and for not taking prompt steps to intervene weeks ago. Instead it followed its own obeisance to corporate advice and alleged “expertise,” and rather than being instantly skeptical of British Petroleum assertions of the leakage rate, or that it was “doing all it could,” it accepted as honest the claims of BP. It should have known from the outset that any corporation would act in a short-sighted self-serving manner which is exactly what it did: it did not move immediately to block the well, but rather came up with one failed concept after the other which would have salvaged the well so the costs of drilling it were not lost. Rather than lose profits, BP has socialized it’s loss, and now the Gulf is lost.
But the true blame lies in the deregulatory actions which occurred since Reagan, and in the profound corruption which has taken place throughout America’s social and cultural strata. We are truly an ill culture.
In China not long ago a company distributed tainted milk, and many children died. The manufacturers were found, quickly tried, found guilty and the head of the company was shortly thereafter executed with a bullet in the back of the head. While this may to our tastes seem a rough justice, it may be that such is required to rein in the Masters of the Universe of our corporations who in their blind pursuit of profit have laid waste to the American land and seascape.
For a true nightmare, but possible, scenario see this.