Tocqueville on the BP Spill

by Benjamin Domenech on 7:11 am June 18, 2010


Pejman has already noted the latest jarring ABC News report of a ridiculous incident in the Gulf, where a federal authority — no one’s willing to own up to which one — countermanded Governor Jindal’s order that barges designed to suck oil from the ocean’s surface be deployed off the Louisiana coast. The day they sat unused, these barges could’ve sucked up nearly a hundred thousand gallons of oil, and no one seems to know why they couldn’t be deployed.

My friend Paul Cella sends along this Alexis de Tocqueville quote from Democracy in America which could serve as a description of the entire situation:

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

As I wrote the other day, “Cleaning up the Gulf doesn’t start with legislation or commissions or committee hearings — it starts with making decisions and being willing to live with the results. Drop the sandbags, send BP a bill, and if they don’t pay for it, we’ll get it out of them in court.”

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