It Can’t All Be About The Jobs

Posted: June 20, 2010 in Current Events
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It is just blowing me away that there is opposition to the temporary moratorium on deepwater exploratory oil drilling.  How can one know that millions of gallons of oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of an explosion that killed 11 workers and not support a temporary timeout on drilling of new wells just to make sure we can really do this in a safe manner?  (Heck, we didn’t even shut down existing wells, we are just strictly talking about holding up on digging new holes.)  And yet, that’s exactly what many leaders in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi are doing.

The argument is that jobs are on the line.  If we do not allow exploratory oil drilling, companies may pick up and go elsewhere.  But on a recent show, Bill Maher responded to the fact that the oil industry creates jobs by stating, “so does the kiddie porn industry.”  Now Maher is a comedian, so of course he is being absurd.  But it does highlight the point that while job creation is a factor in determining if something is a worthwhile venture, it is NOT the only factor.  You do have the also weigh the costs that go along with the benefits.  And right now, the fact that the Gulf of Mexico is turning into the Black Sea is a pretty darn big cost!

Even if you do want to look at this from just a jobs perspective, what about the impact of this spill on the jobs for fishermen, hotel workers, restaurant workers, and other tourism related jobs?  Are those jobs somehow less important than jobs on the oil rig?  Do those workers for some reason not count?  If we save jobs for oil rig workers, only to cost jobs for others on the coast, how are we coming out ahead?

I suspect that the big difference between oil industry jobs and jobs in other industries is the amount of money the oil industry contributes to political campaigns.  Frankly, that’s probably a big reason why we got into this mess into the first place.  This is why oil companies were allowed to drill with few limitations and pretty much no oversight.  Make no mistake, while BP may be a special kind of bad, as more information is coming out, it is apparent that the other oil companies are no better prepared to handle such a disaster than BP.

So really, asking for a brief timeout to evaluate how we can prevent such accidents and how to better respond to such accidents when they do occur is almost the least we can do.  Let’s face it, we are far too dependent on oil in this nation for this moratorium to be anything other than temporary.  I fully expect that the moratorium will be lifted after 6 months whether we have any answers or not.  But can’t we at least take this short timeout to make up for a little lost time?

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