Monday, June 14, 2010


"Ducking responsibility and blame-shifting are not among the principles of leadership."

Recently in an interview with Politico, President Obama said a few things which have annoyed and upset the right leaning side of politics. He was discussing the oil spill in the gulf and mentioned:
“I think it’s fair to say, if six months ago, before this spill had happened, I had gone up to Congress and I had said we need to crack down a lot harder on oil companies and we need to spend more money on technology to respond in case of a catastrophic spill, there are folks up there, who will not be named, who would have said this is classic, big-government overregulation and wasteful spending.”
He went on to imply that this position by conservatives is hypocritical:
“Some of the same folks who have been hollering and saying ‘do something’ are the same folks who, just two or three months ago, were suggesting that government needs to stop doing so much,” Obama said. “Some of the same people who are saying the president needs to show leadership and solve this problem are some of the same folks who, just a few months ago, were saying this guy is trying to engineer a takeover of our society through the federal government that is going to restrict our freedoms.”
Now, others have gone through and shown how inaccurate these statements are, such as Bruce McQuain at Q and O who points out the straw man argument:
Here he resorts to a classic logical fallacy: the strawman argument. Those arguing that he’s trying to “engineer a takeover of our society” weren’t arguing about executing the basic functions of government. They were talking about takeovers of banks, financial institutions, car companies, health care and other areas not associated with those basic function. Disaster relief and mitigation – that’s considered a basic function and no one is hollering that shouldn’t happen as it always has.
Bruce also notes how, if President Obama really thought that more should be done about the oil drilling operations he could have done exactly what he states above: go to congress and call for greater regulation. He didn't. Others have suggested this isn't very seemly for a president and sort of smacks of childish whining.

The thing is, that initial statement is in essence right. If President Obama had gone to congress and called for more regulation conservatives such as myself would absolutely say things like "that's not your business, the constitution doesn't give you that authority and further you're encroaching too heavily on the free market already, socialist." And I'd say something like that today if he tried the same thing, because it would be wrong and big government encroachment on liberty.

Further, if he said "we need to spend more money on disaster cleanup and relief in case something bad happens" my response along with many others would be where are you going to get that money? Given the immense waste and the vast debt which President Obama voted for as a Senator and signed into law as a president, the United States doesn't have the money for anything any more. It doesn't matter how valuable or important is, they've just spent too much in Washington and we cannot afford anything else.

But consider, if all those regulations had passed, and if President Obama had not signed a waiver ignoring certain regulations for BP, none of it would have stopped this disaster. In 2009, Deepwater Horizon, the rig which exploded, was given a government award for “outstanding drilling operations” and a “perfect performance period.” What happened was an industrial accident which by definition is something you cannot expect. It is the height of arrogance to presume that any human endeavor is accident free or can ever be engineered in such a way it will never go wrong. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig didn't explode and collapse because of insufficient regulation, it was an accident which no amount of law or government oversight can prevent. That happens, you drop the wrench, you break a bolt, you spell a word wrong, you miss your target, there are billions of ways things can go wrong and no amount of law will ever, ever, ever stop that.

It was a tragedy when the oil rig exploded, killing workers and creating a huge oil spill. And in a sense, beyond the petty partisanship and the cheap shots at the expense of logic and truth by the President, this interview betrays a certain viewpoint of the world and politics, of power and government. President Obama seems to think that with enough government oversight, with enough regulation and law in place, with enough bureaucracy you can avoid accidents. He seems to think that at least the really bad and major disasters can be prevented if only you get enough government involved.

And that seems to be a serious problem with the left's outlook on life. I don't think they consciously are aware of this, I doubt they systematically and logically come to this conclusion by examining all the data and step by step reason out that sufficient government = no major problems, but that's what their actions, policies, and statements all seem to indicate. Every single problem in the world that ever comes up always has the same prescription: more government.

Homeless people? More government. Climate Change? More government. Unemployment? More government. Naughty Children? Too much salt in your potato chips? Unfriendly neighbors? Warped floors? Uneven tire wear? More government. More, more, more. It always seems to be the same answer, no matter what the situation. The unspoken assumption here is that if only we had sufficient government control over every single aspect of our lives, then things would be okay. The idea here is that as humans, if only we put our best, most organized effort to the job, nothing would ever go wrong.

That attitude is unbelievably naive. It doesn't take long for most people in this life to figure out that things just simply will never go like you want them to every time. Even in the best moments, something isn't quite exactly right. We cannot make things all okay as humans, not ever.

Look, I'll admit that government isn't as bad or incompetent as some conservatives portray it. Yet the government isn't as good and capable as nearly all leftists seem to think either. Nothing on earth is that competent. And this attitude that government can and will solve all problems if only we give it enough power isn't just ignorant and childish, it is basically destructive as well. Liberty is destroyed, self reliance is destroyed, markets are destroyed, ambition is destroyed, and as we can see in Europe and possibly worldwide, entire economies are destroyed.

The US Constitution absolutely requires the US Government to be involved at a certain minimal level in the economy. The market isn't designed to be completely free; taxes and other basic regulations are involved, such as with weights and measures. Yet this presumption that more regulation will fix things is inexcusably infantile and must be stopped.

1 comment:

KurtP said...

Six months ago Obamas people wouldn't have gone to Congress asking for permission, they'd have just done it- like the EPA did with their CO2 policy.