J and D's Corner

From the Letters Archive

The Gulf spill moved me to write several connected letters because it tweaked several of my pet peeves.

Number one was the apparent inability of the public to understand that sometimes an accident is just an accident, not some improbable conspiracy by evil businesses (or whoever), and that accidents happening are a fact of existence.

Then there was the equally apparent inability of the public to understand that when you add to any businesses' cost structure the money is coming out of the pockets of the consumers of the product or service.

And of course there is the ever-present "all businesses are inherently evil and therefore are guilty by definition" mindset held by our blindly leftist/socialist segment.


To:  AV Press

Date: 05/2010

Re:  Don't Panic Yet

Here’s a little perspective on the Gulf oil platform blowout, which, depending on your politics, was intentionally caused by the evil trolls who force you to need heat, light & transportation, the evil policies of George Bush, the incompetence of B. Obama, the porn-surfing of various government employees, or your personal pick from an endless parade of other fantasies.

The blowout is running about 5000 barrels a day, or in the more commonly used bulk measure, 685 tons per day.  Compare this to the 1979 blowout of the Mexican IXTOC-I well, which spouted 500,000 tons into the Gulf before it was capped.  The BP rig would have to run uncontrolled for two years to match that one.   Or compare to the 1991 Gulf War, when the Iraqi forces intentionally released 2,000,000 tons into the Persian Gulf.  That’s 8 full years at the BP rig’s rate.

My point is that while no one wants to see oil running loose, in the great scheme of things the current “disaster” won’t be all that big a deal. 

Accidents will always happen no matter how many regulations are enacted in an effort to eliminate them, and yet we always recover and go on.  My advice: Don’t panic until the asteroid is confirmed to be on a collision course with Earth.  And even then…..


To:  AV Press

Date: 06/2010

Re:  Who Is Being Punished?

My letter on the BP oil blowout garnered at least two replies (maybe more, I’ve been gone for a while), both of which took high exception to my suggestion that some degree of perspective should be maintained on this supposed ‘greatest environmental disaster that has ever befallen the United States’.  Apparently, hurricanes, fires, volcanoes and earthquakes are no longer part of our environment.

This reaction inspires me to call for a degree of perspective on another aspect of the circus, the inevitable quest for ‘punishment’ of a corporation by extraction of large quantities of money, much of which invariably ends up in the wrong places. We saw this with great clarity in the Exxon Valdez spill, with hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown at cleanup activities that environmental experts now widely, if quietly, agree were ultimately useless and in many cases did more harm than good.  But hey, we ‘punished’ Exxon….or did we?

The point I wish to make today is that corporations do not manufacture money out of thin air.  Every dollar you extract from a corporation via taxes, fines, penalties or lawsuits one way or another comes from the sale of its product, in this case oil and gasoline.  So where do you think the tens of billions Obama guarantees BP will pay into his slush fund is going to come from?  Yep, right out of your own pocket.  Perspective means asking the question: Who is actually being punished here?


To:  AV Press

Date: 08/2010

Re:  Where's The Beef?

Is it just me, or does anyone else find this strange?  (they cut this first sentence....author v.s. editor, you know...)

The Gulf oil spill, we have been repeatedly told for months, is the “worst environmental disaster ever”.  Yet notwithstanding this endless parade of talking heads dedicated to whipping up outrage, inexplicably absent is documentation of truly major damage.  Reminds me of the late Clara Peller looking inside the oversize bun and shouting “Where’s the beef?”

Faced with this glaring lack I see the spinmeisters now are shifting to dire speculations about “hidden” disaster which could/may/might suddenly erupt years or centuries down the road, augmented with warnings of “widespread psychological scarring” that will render residents of the Gulf region unable to continue with life.

Could it be it’s time to get off this horse and find a new cause célèbre to ride?