As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!”
Thad Allen of the Coast Guard today defended the Obama Administration decision to let BP handle the oil spill by saying he called other oil company CEO’s who, surprise, surprise, surprise, said Obama was right because BP knows more about the problem and is likely doing all they can.
Imagine what would happen to Tim Geithner today if it turned out that at the height of the financial meltdown he called up the heads of all the investment banks and they reassured him that what Goldman and Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were doing was exactly what they should be doing because they had all the inside knowledge. Hmm, maybe that’s what Geithner did do.
The critical point in this situation is that NO ONE knows what to do and that is why, as Judge Richard Posner put it in a case about extremely hazardous situations, we want everyone involved “wracking their brains” to find a solution in order to minimize social costs.
BP has no more expertise in this circumstance than anyone else. Yes, they own the equipment but, so what? Why does that mean that the US Government should not be in the room where key decisions are being made and that they should be chairing those sessions with veto power over those decisions?
Keep in mind that something caused this “accident” – despite the “know nothing” world view of the Rand Paulites, accidents don’t just happen – and BP does not know what that is. That means they do not know how to fix it either. After all they have failed now with two different methods.
What more does one need to know about this situation to establish that the government should have commandeered crisis response from the beginning and treated it as the unprecedented emergency that it is? This is exactly what governments are for – and even “limited government” conservatives should understand that.