You might look at the top of this page, where our tagline says “Conservation and Conservatism,” and wonder where the conservation went. After all, the entire media has been having a field day with this BP oil spill in the gulf, and you are literally as saturated with pictures of oil-soaked creatures as the creatures are saturated in oil.
In fact, every Tom, Dick and Harriet is trying to show you how Environmentally Conscious(tm) he or she is. There are innumerable stories covering this spill: how BP screwed it up, how they have a record of screwups, how the boycott is affecting BP, how the animals are dying, how one in ten can be saved, how volunteers are misplaced, how there’s a coverup, how Louisiana shrimping is dead, and how the oil spill affects New Orleans nightlife. Every angle is cover, and dramatically enough to make a movie out of it, too!
And that there is the problem. The problem with the rest of you is that you’re acting like this is news. The problem is that you need it made into a movie, and you need some pivotal event, in order to take note.
For me, this spill happened long ago. In fact, I assume one is going on at roughly the pace that they happen, one every couple of years. Not all are this big, but then again, ten little spills are as destructive as a big one in that they afflict more terrain. For me, this spill is to be expected, because it’s the cost of being oil-dependent in a time when we, as a species are barely competent, and our method of governing ourselves is so juvenile that not only is corruption and corner-cutting rife, but our only solution to it is regulation by bureaucrats of below average intelligence.
Have you ever seen regulation in action? Probably not: if you’re reading this, your job is located far from such rough ‘n’ tumble blue collar places. Regulators are people who couldn’t make it through regular college. They’re usually community college graduates, and lifers with government, who’ve “risen” to the position of being head paper-checker. They don’t get paid all that much, although they are very handsomely paid for what they do. Their personal lives are usually disasters. Sometimes, their best chance for socialization comes through the people they are supposed to be regulating.
Are you getting the picture yet? Regulation isn’t a solution. It may be part of a solution, but it isn’t The solution. Yet we as a nation have handed off our future to bureaucrats time and again, preferring to believe that regulation is yet another magic modern bullet. Put penicillin on it! Get democracy in there and everything will turn out OK! The free market will solve it! Any time there is a tragedy, we demand more laws, which basically hire more regulators who are even less efficient than the previous regulators.
This oil spill was inevitable from day one. You set up a market that rewards the cheapest and fastest, then you conveniently sell all of these idiots on an unsustainable lifestyle, and you have the perfect setting for corruption and corner-cutting. Then you appoint people too incompetent to get hired outside of government to oversee this — these are the same low self-esteem, high anger, high failure cases who make the most abusive cops — and you are surprised when they fail it?
In fact, the big story about the BP spill is the story that will not get told: our entire approach to how we harvest and use oil is broken, and because it is broken, it’s amazing spills like this don’t happen more often. In fact, my feeling is that the only reason they don’t is the high number of people who work in the oil fields who like nature. They probably at some personal risk intervene and try to avoid the worst potential accidents.
Look at your news media. For them, this is a giant holiday. What sells newspapers? Uplifting stories, tragedies, fears, or collective hate/cry-ins like this spill. No one except a sociopath doesn’t feel upset for the oil-covered birds. So it sells newspapers. We all get sad together, then get outraged and demand things from our legislators, then talk about how oil spills make us “feel.”
And then what?
And then back to business as usual. It ws a holiday for us. We got to feel bad about something, and then we let it drop out of our collective nitwit mind. Somewhere, there are well-meaning and celibate college students and volunteers trying to fix this for us. Onward to the next thing. Anything to distract ourselves from the big story, which is that we can’t govern ourselves, and the biggest human failings aren’t government or corporations, but the masses of asses who complacently live unsustainable lives, breed like crazy, and then demand more, more, more and if we have to overlook some incompetence that will inevitably lead to oil spills, so be it!
We’re all beholden to them. They’re the ones buying the newspapers. They’re the ones casting the votes. They’re the ones who will get outraged and revolt if they can’t fill up the $50,000 full-size pickup trucks they bought on a $30,000/year salary. They might go on the television, express outrage, and cause a wave out of outrage to rise up among the other proles, which could cause lost elections. Possibly worse, it could inconvenience us all.
The real demon of the BP spill is not BP, this spill, or oil. It’s that we’ve structured a society based on the wants of the individual, and what the individual wants to do is (a) ignore problems (b) cry/rage over distant problems and (c) buy things to make themselves comfortable and ignore the consequences. This applies to rich as well as poor nations, but not equally to all people. Some come pre-configured to make sense of this all, and the rest of the masses really hate them. In fact, our entire political system is designed so that what is in unpopular can be denied, voted out of existence, ignored and considered taboo or illegal.
As with all things human, we like to pretend that a single external actor did this. BP rose from hell, and with a Hitlerian will of pure evil, smote the gulf into ruin. The fact is that it’s the incompetence of individuals and their desire for oblivion that creates “evil” not through action, but inaction. Sins of omission. And on some level we know this, and that’s why we’re ignoring the big story in order to make a holiday over weeping for the ten thousand non-stories that sell newspapers.