Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Katrina?

If I told you there was a leak in a gold pipeline and gold coins were spewing out all over the bottom of the ocean, you would know some intrepid treasure hunters would be on the case recovering all that free gold. So why is precious oil washing up on the marshes of Louisiana and why has this become such an environmental disaster? Why doesn't BP offer a bounty for every barrel of recovered oil?  Is it possible that loose oil is just too difficult to recover? No, I don’t believe that’s the problem. This spill is a lot like Katrina in the sense that it shows how, for a number of reasons, we are incapable of taking care of ourselves in a crisis.

I used to be in the waste-water treatment business and I can tell you that, (this is going to surprise you), water and oil do not mix. Moreover, oil tends to float. Much of it is just sitting on the surface! The technology for separating oil and water is simple, cheap and plentiful. All we would need is a bunch of unemployed sailors, (like maybe fishermen who can’t fish), some barges with giant tanks, a bunch of huge pumps, floating skimmers, some hoses, and land and/or sea based oil water separators.

The problem with this is, the permits for all this would take some two years to get, the equipment would most likely have to be imported, the fishermen are getting unemployment checks so don’t need to work, there’s probably more money in a juicy lawsuit, the environmentalists want the issue around for political gain, and besides, the government will bail everyone out anyway, so why sweat! Meanwhile, the oil floats and spreads out.

Isn’t that just like Katrina? New Orleans didn’t have to worry about building their city below sea level in hurricane alley because the Government built them a nifty levee system and then threw hundreds of billions at them when it failed. Private donations are still flowing like water and they got to use the whole fiasco for political gain. It worked so well, they are rebuilding below sea level again.

Ben Franklin famously said; "Those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither."  Ronald Reagan went further and said;  “You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down -- up to man's age-old dream -- the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order--or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course."

We always think of totalitarian regimes as those led by a strongman like Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, or Kim Jong il, but is it possible that all that's needed for totalitarianism to flourish is a culture of dependency and an illusion of security? 

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