Thursday, May 27, 2010

Man or Superman?

Mike is very angry at the White House response to the oil spill in the Gulf:

With this oil spill I’ve seen an unforgivable lack of government response. They’ve put all the responsibility on BP to fix this mess. I say my anger is directed at the White House because this is not in state-controlled waters. I also think the US navy and Coast Guard should have been deployed to help weeks ago. We have around 240 active ships in the US navy which doesn’t include hundreds of smaller support vessels. There are over 300,000 active personnel. I don’t care if they are out there with buckets, they should be trying to help. It’s insanity not to use the resources we have.

This situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets better and I hope the White House realizes they need to step up. Otherwise, the people of the gulf coast have once again been abandoned on their time of need.

While Mike wants to call the Navy to combat the oil spill, Yuval Levin thinks people have an unreasonable expectation of government:

I think it’s actually right to say that the BP oil spill is something like Obama’s Katrina, but not in the sense in which most critics seem to mean it.

It’s like Katrina in that many people's attitudes regarding the response to it reveal completely unreasonable expectations of government. The fact is, accidents (not to mention storms) happen. We can work to prepare for them, we can have various preventive rules and measures in place. We can build the capacity for response and recovery in advance. But these things happen, and sometimes they happen on a scale that is just too great to be easily addressed. It is totally unreasonable to expect the government to be able to easily address them—and the kind of government that would be capable of that is not the kind of government that we should want.

Both Presidents Bush and Obama are taking heat for not moving heaven and earth to solve their problems. But the thing is, I think the problems presented, a hurricane hitting a major city and a massive oil leak are not things that can be easily solved. As Americans, we want to believe that there is some technology or process or law that will easily solve whatever problem we are facing. Americans are not accustomed to the limits of..well, anything.

Government can and should respond to disasters. However, that doesn't mean that they are superheroes that can just solve a problem in a snap. Some scenarios are so huge, that government can only do what it can.

It's hard to see all this oil spilling into the Gulf and feel helpless. But that's what is going on right now.

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