Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) apology to embattled BP CEO Tony Hayward for the government’s efforts to ensure compensation for Gulf coast residents last week highlighted two competing visions of government. The first is the progressive vision, that says government should aggressively champion the public interest, holding massive corporations accountable. The second, Barton’s, is the reflexive conservative embrace of big corporations.
GOP state senator Randy Brogdon (OK), who is the “tea party favorite” in his race for the Republican nomination for governor in his state, indicated that he fully and absolutely endorses the second vision. Instead of placing blame on BP for the massive environmental and economic disaster that it has caused in the Gulf of Mexico, Brogdon claimed that government is “the problem” and that the spill is a “perfect example of why government should never be involved in the private sector”:
In Oklahoma, where oil and natural gas drive the state’s economy, tea party favorite Randy Brogdon, a Republican candidate for governor, said federal involvement in the BP disaster is only making the situation worse.
“This is a perfect example of why government should never be involved in the private sector,” said Brogdon, a state senator campaigning on limited federal government. “Government is not the solution. It’s the problem. The more government tries to get in and regulate the free market, the worse things become.”
Of course, BP’s oil disaster may have resulted from too little — not too much — government involvement. Although the exact cause of the disaster is still unknown, there is a growing mountain of evidence that suggests BP’s own corporate negligence, combined with Bush-era regulators turning a blind eye to safety violations, are what created the environment that led to the oil spill.
It would be interesting to know exactly what Brogdon means by saying the oil disaster proves that the government should “never” be involved in the private sector. Does Brodgon believe, for example, that BP’s malfeasance should end government regulation of child labor, the minimum wage, food and drug safety, and airline travel?