Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I said, hey boy, that's no chicken...

I made the slightest lean to the left this morning to pick up my cell phone and felt my back lock up in a strange way. The way it feels when you know that things will not be back to normal for several days if not weeks. I marshaled through the day after a go round at the County Assessor's office and now lay prone on the couch typing whilst nursing my aching back with suitable and mostly legal analgesics.


I have been thinking about the oil spill today - the day they try to "top kill" the broken pipe. Karl Rove has just gleefully proclaimed that this is Obama's Katrina, as if a point is now made for his side in the incessant tit for tat. Bobby Jindal, that fierce denier of federal aid is now on his knees pleading for help and the pro industry, good old boy Louisiana shrimper/ fisherman is now having to reassess the cozy relationship his countryman has with the drillin' folks.


Lehman Brothers sued J.P. Morgan today for the billions that Morgan made off of Lehman's rotting corpse in the last few weeks of it's life,  Lehman claiming with inside information.


In a way the two events, the oil spill and the financial meltdown, deserve to be looked at side by side, for the consequences of both disasters point out interesting similarities between the two catastrophes. In both cases the American public had been hoodwinked into thinking that there were certain controls in place to avert their failures. Oil drillers had to have redundancy safety systems built in so that this kind of event would be unthinkable. And no way in the world that the government would permit the Deepwater Horizon or Atlantis without having full engineering packages and inspections, something we know has not always occurred.

Of course now we know that there was a revolving door between BP and the very same regulators and that many of the civil servants were high on meth and purportedly watching porn. And now we realize that not only did some engineers make a very stupid decision with the blowout, there were no secondary safety controls in place, the repair technology might not even work at 5000 ft., and is totally experimental at this point. And a few years back the MMS ceded the duties of environmental complicity right back to the oil drillers, every good republican knowing that companies best police themselves. I quote from the Washington Post:

The 2005 regulation MMS adopted assumes oil and gas companies can best evaluate the environmental effects of their operations.
The rule governing which information the MMS should receive and review before signing off on drilling plans states: "The lessee or operator is in the best position to determine the environmental effects of its proposed activity based on whether the operation is routine or non-routine."
MMS said in a May 2000 draft environmental analysis of deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that "the oil industry's experience base in deep-water well control is limited" and that a massive spill "could easily turn out to be a potential showstopper for the [Outer Continental Shelf] program if the industry and MMS do not come together as a whole to prevent such an incident."
But when the MMS finalized the document that month, it jettisoned those two statements and concluded that there was no need to prepare an environmental impact analysis for deep-water drilling: "Most deep-water operations and activities are substantially the same as those associated with conventional operations and activities on the continental shelf."

So the fox not only runs the chicken coop, he's bought off the hound who is supposed to be guarding it with the promise of late night frolicking and filet mignon. The government can't take responsibility under present law or run the risk of assuming all of the liability. They can't even tell BP what dispersant to spray, and reports this morning that thanks to the toxic dispersant, huge oil blobs are now submerged in the water and passing under the booms. You are fucked, Louisiana. Deep frigging gumbo. And maybe there is a little karma involved for the kinds of people you befriend and elect in your state. And the government has no way of fixing it either, they are way out of their depth, too.


Of course, the financial meltdown was predicated on the failing of some strange and experimental credit instruments, that also turned out to be totally bogus shit, but that the Wall Street swine could peddle with a straight face, knowing that the game was rigged and that people were going to be left without a musical chair. And there was nary a regulator around or anybody who actually understood the nature of the trash, like with Madoff, everyone apparently getting caught fast asleep at the wheel. Of course Goldman got paid off a hundred cents on the dollar in the AIG deal, with no thought to getting a little discount for the American taxpayer footing the bill. Wouldn't be sporting now, would it? And the investment houses weren't content to destroy the national economy, now they have started short selling foreign countries, like Greece.


Times like these are the salad days for a naturally inclined pessimist who enjoys saying I told you so. Tsk, Tsk, the blind faith of the public, who assumes that rational engineers are asking the right questions and have given some thought to worst case scenarios. That rare and irreplaceable resources aren't pulverized and plundered with unsafe, speculative technologies. And that the Masseys and BP's and Goldmans of this world are willing to look at something besides profits once in a while in their calculus. Like the lives of their employees and the well being of the american public.  I read an article the other day about how these deep sea leases have just been given away to the oil companies, especially during the last administration and it makes me, well, furious. It is one thing to allow them to do their own environmental analysis but to subsidize it as well seems a bit over the top. Let them screw you and sodomize you too.


Hudgins said...

I am becoming depressed.

I must be channeling Marvin the Martian.

He is only one who could understand this.

grumpy said...

find a nice grassy lawn to lie down on for a half hour every day, you'll feel better..