The Oil Spill Is Another Katrina

By Ali Frick

I was watching MSNBC this morning and one of the guests said that the BP oil spill was a demonstration of the failure of government to handle these sorts of disasters. But it strikes me that this is a failure of a failed government: If government had been working the way it was supposed to, during the regulatory phase, this spill very well might not have happened.

In that sense, despite the efforts of Fox News et al to portray this as “Obama’s Katrina,” it really is yet another demonstration of the disaster of the conservative agenda to cripple government and eviscerate regulations. It’s another Katrina, alright — for Bush:

Federal regulators responsible for oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil — and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency, according to an inspector general’s report to be released this week.

The report, which describes inappropriate behavior by the staff at the Minerals Management Service from 2005 to 2007, also found that inspectors had accepted meals, tickets to sporting events and gifts from at least one oil company while they were overseeing the industry.

I’m not trying to say that the spill is George Bush’s fault, just like the hurricane itself was not George Bush’s fault. But the mentality that government not only can’t successfully regulate business but has no place attempting to do so, that corporate insiders know better than experts, and that people can deal with disasters on their own is a conservative one.


The problem is that conservative failures spawn more conservatives: When conservatives cripple government, and then government fails, people believe government is incapable. So we get poll numbers like this: