Vail Daily letter: U.S. always just reacting
Vail, CO, Colorado
I am constantly astonished at how the United States always seems to wind up behind the eight ball. No matter who is in office. We seem to have a reactive nature as opposed to a proactive one. We wait and wait to act until things have reached emergency or catastrophic proportions.
In 1979, during the Carter administration, the gas crisis should have led to measures to reduce our dependency on oil, yet here we are three decades later still bickering with nothing being done.
Recognizing a problem with illegal immigration, President Reagan granted amnesty to millions of undocumented aliens in 1986 and here we are, over 20 years later, again with no real reform and no real plan.
The government had been warned for years about the levees in New Orleans and yet it dragged its feet and diverted much of the funds earmarked for the levees to the war in Iraq.
For years, we have known that if an earthquake hit San Francisco, the Bay Bridge would not survive it. After its partial collapse in 1989, it was determined that a new bridge needed to be built. It will be completed … possibly … by 2013, a full 24 years later after years of delays. If there is an earthquake between now and then, the consequences could be catastrophic.
And now we know that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could have been averted had regulations been in place, had everyone done their jobs properly and had actual plans for handling any possible sort of malfunction been developed before an accident occurred.
In fact, the imminent failure of the blow-off preventer was flagged but ignored so as not to lose time and money. If proper oversight existed, the internal decisions to forge ahead may not have been made. But instead we are in reactionary mode once again dealing with the biggest environmental disaster this country has ever known.
I hear a lot of people say that the blame game is useless and that the focus should be on stopping the leak (which has not happened as of this writing). This is absolutely true … to a point. The first thing is to figure out a way to cap the damned thing. But then, once we have, some questions need to be asked.
See, the blame game becomes very important from that point on. The MMS, Transocean, Haliburton (what a surprise that they are involved), the oil companies and this administration should all have some explaining to do.
If we are to pursue things like nuclear plants and offshore drilling, we need to know that they are safe. That means regulation (that dirty word) and oversight, and it means weighing any potential for disaster.
And if we choose to move forward, it means knowing exactly how to handle anything that could go wrong. Instead of “trying” all sorts of things as hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil gush into the Gulf each day, we should have known without question beforehand.
But I also think it means something else. Until such time as there is real campaign reform, our politicians simply appear not to be able to be trusted to make the right decisions for the people of this country.
Until President Obama and members of Congress from both parties stop taking money from Goldman Sachs, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, how can we expect any real changes on Wall Street? And until the campaign contributions from the oil companies stop, I also don’t think we can ever really be sure that what is going on in the Gulf can never happen again.
But like everything else, we know this is a problem and we will do nothing about it, and we will continue to react with outrage every time we are faced with what will surely be more preventable crises and disasters.
Because that’s how we are.