OIL ON WATER
By Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.
June 24, 2010
As readers of my commentaries are well aware, I have often pointed to the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as a prime example of how America’s present “homeland-security” regime—from the Department of Homeland Security itself, through FEMA, to many of the State and Local emergency-management and law-enforcement agencies that the DHS has coopted “from the top down”—falls woefully short of the mark, and why as a practical matter that whole top-heavy apparatus should be replaced as the Constitution requires with revitalized “Militia of the several States”, immediately if not sooner. Well, now, with the eruption of raw petroleum from BP’s well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, America is confronted with a disaster besides which Katrina may perhaps be remembered as little more than a few rainy days. A disaster that, unlike Katrina, will not blow away in a little while. A disaster that, unlike Katrina, will not leave behind only damage to property that can be repaired relatively quickly and easily. Rather, this disaster threatens to load upon the Gulf States—and probably upon all of the United States, in one way or another—a super- industrial-strength physical and environmental mess that will fester for a long time to come.
If events unfold according to the estimates of the more pessimistic experts, the damage will be pervasive, extensive, intensive, and persistent in the Gulf States, and perhaps up the East Coast of the United States and even beyond. Obviously, if these dire prognostications are anywhere near accurate, America must deal with the flood of crude oil and its inevitable consequences, immediately and effectively, before things get entirely out of hand. The question is: “How?” Emergency assistance of all kinds for people in the Gulf States will be necessary—but who will provide it; and, perhaps more to the point, who will actually deliver it to the victims most in need? The clean-up will require a staggering amount of human effort—but where are sufficient “boots on the ground” to be found? And eventual return to a state of living approaching “normalcy” will demand massive short- and long-term readjustments, remediation, rebuilding, and even rethinking of the local economies in the affected regions—but in what way can America insure that the primary beneficiaries of this work will be the people in the region, not simply public officials, government employees and contractors, politicians, and assorted special-interest groups trying (as they always do) to gouge abusive political and monetary profits from human misfortune and misery?