The Invisible Hand of the Marketplace

I’ve been intending for some time to write a post about the gulf oil spill, but I’ve been having trouble getting my head around the sheer enormity of what is happening. This is clearly an environmental catastrophe of unprecedented scale, which could have devastating consequences for decades to come. What we are facing is a national emergency. Yet, Obama’s response has been curiously passive. He has pretty much left it up to BP to try to solve the problem (with some help from the Coast Guard). He seems more interested in threatening Iran and persecuting whistleblowers. Obama has only made two trips to the gulf coast. On the second one, he posed for photographers on a beach where he picked up tar balls. The beach was cleaned before his arrival.

I have a suspicion that Obama would rather not think about what is happening in the gulf. This event, more any other, exposes the complete vacuity of neoliberal ideology, which is his religion. The number of oil spills more than quadrupled during this decade. Should this be surprising? For years now, the government has been controlled by people who are ideologically opposed to government regulation. They would rather have the regulators in the Minerals Management Service downloading pornography onto their computers than have them interfere with the magical invisible hand of the marketplace. (I’m tempted here to make a joke about what the MMS employees were doing with their own hands, but I’m just too angry). The MMS helped to make the gulf oil spill possible, just as the inertness of the SEC (where, coincidentally, people were also downloading pornography onto their computers) helped to make the 2008 meltdown of the financial markets possible.

It’s obvious that even by the low standards of capitalism, neoliberalism has been a failure. Yet Obama & Co. desperately cling to its tenets.

By the way, I found this on wikipedia:

    Since 20 April 2010, when an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers, 27 new offshore drilling projects have been approved by MMS. All but one project was granted similar exemptions from environmental review as BP. Two were submitted by the UK firm, and made the same claims about oil-rig safety and the implausibility of a spill damaging the environment.

The inmates are in charge of the asylum.

Update: it turns out that the Marshall Islands had responsibility for the safety inspections at the Deepwater Horizon. See here.


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