Don’t Let the GOM Spill Glop Up our Future

The oil rig explosion and resulting spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a mess no one needs, and if it turns out it could have been prevented no one should tolerate.  A worse disaster, however, would be allowing this incident to derail America’s economic recovery and its energy future.

The events of the oil spill are moving too fast to yet make sense of what happened while action is being focused to stop the leak and clean up the mess. What we read in the press is part speculation, part rant and part reporting.

What we know factually is that the oil rig exploded, the safety shut off valves which were supposed to close the spigot on the oil either did not work or were not there.  We know that this oil mess is now going onshore and threatening the wildlife, environment, and economy of the Gulf Coast.  We also know that this has not happened before or often despite thousands of wells and rigs in the GOM—for that we should be grateful and also encouraged.

We know that President Obama who just recently defied his base and spoke in favor of expanded offshore drilling now is covered in a sticky political and public relations mess as a result of this spill. Now there are ugly reports surfacing pointing fingers at BP and the Government for not responding fast enough to mitigate the damage and making comparisons to the Katrina response or the Exxon Valdez spill.

Congress, never wanting to waste a crisis opportunity for headline grabbing, grandstanding and scoundrel thrashing, has called a hearing on the spill for early May.  Attorney General Eric Holder announced he was dispatching a team of investigators and lawyers to the scene to find someone to hang and prepare the way for the army of trial lawyers about to descend on the region.

We need leadership now to clean up this mess!

The difference between politicians and leaders is the latter keep us focused on the desired end result—on achieving the articulated goal and cheer us on to achieve it.

Imagine the power of President Kennedy saying to a disbelieving nation in 1961 that “before this decade is done we will send a man to the moon and bring him home safely.  We will do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard!”

Politicians, on the other hand, distract us with vilification and vitriol that slows down clean up of messes, discourages investment and responsible risk taking needed in our economic life to grow our country and live into its potential, and dispirit us when we most need to be lifted up.  Do you think President Obama’s trip last week to New York to grandstand on Wall Street while Congress hauled the leaders of Goldman Sachs to the dock for a flogging will do anything to clean up the financial mess left over from the crisis?

Fortunately, America is strong enough to weather the crises!

The good news is it will take more—much more, than a recession, a big oil spill, or an over-reaching government to tank the American economy or our spirit. We will clean up the mess on Wall Street and in the GOM!  We will learn from the experience, fix the things that went wrong with remedies that do more good than harm to the patient.

The other good news is that while our politicians are ranting and over-reaching in the here and now, the American people still believe in and are still focused on living into the American dream and thus the long term goal of the prosperous pursuit of happiness for ourselves and our posterity in markets as free and competitive as we can tolerate.

So I’m going to end this rant with some “hopey, changey” things you can believe in:

So turn off your TV and quit listening to ranting politicians distracting us from our dreams and discouraging us from using our imagination and resourcefulness and go out there and do something hard for America!


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