Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ron Paul on the BP Oil Spill

Just to put this out there: I am going to the Colorado Caucus, and I am going to vote for Ron Paul.  I will be there with friends and fellow supporters of the Paul 2012 Campaign.  I will vote for delegates that I can see are truly committed to the Constitution of the United States and not to their own blind self-interest.  That said, I would like to compare and contrast my views, Dr. Ron Paul's views, and the views of the media selected front-runner, Mitt Romney.
I do not agree with Ron Paul on every issue, and I want to take on those issues as I go here.  I do believe in free markets and free people, however, and I do believe that both of them are being threatened by a habitual reliance on government intervention in all of life's problems.

I want to talk about Ron Paul's stance on the BP oil spill today, because it shows an example of where free markets would have actually provided stronger protection against the harm.

Ron Paul on the BP Oil Spill

When I say that less government control would have helped mitigate damage in the BP Horizon disaster, many people gasp, and not a few want to slap me across the face for that.  I want to use the words of Dr. Ron Paul, taken from a CNBC interview with the presidential candidate in which he defends Barack Obama from criticism that he did too little during the oil spill.

"I would say that it has been unfair for him to get all the blame for an accident committed by an oil company,"  Says the Texas Republican.  " blame the president for everything that has gone wrong down there; I just think that we’ve developed a culture where everything is to be solved by the government, you know, anything that goes wrong, the president is responsible, he has to take care of it."

He goes further, saying, "government gives them permission, they limit the liability of the oil companies and then they say the taxpayer will pick it up."

Which outlines the basic premise of a free market as a defense against a disaster like this.  How, you might ask?

"I like to think of how this would have been accomplished if we would have had a freer market and property rights. If we had property rights, somebody would have owned the fishing rights and oil drillers couldn’t go in there unless they got permission from the fishermen. And there would have to be provisions, there would have to be bonds put up and there would have to be provisions for accidents like this, " Ron Paul suggests, "...I mean, they shouldn’t have any limits, it’s a rich company."

"No, you don’t want to bankrupt this company, this a healthy company. But they should be held  100% liable for anybody who is lost, and those are the kind of contracts that would have been designed in the market place rather than having the government give the permits and have the inspections and set them up."

To put it simply:  in business to business transactions, people watch their ass.  In government and business relationships, they don't care because we are the ones who get screwed.  If the fishermen of that area used their co-ops as fishing rights owners, they would be the ones to decide whether or not the oil companies would do any drilling, and not the federal government.

Now, let's move on and make a contrast here.  I want you to keep in mind that both Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are talking about limited government, but only one of them has any concept of what that means.

Mitt Romney on the BP Oil Spill

Let me first summarize former Massachusetts governor Romney's overall opinion of the Obama administration's response:  He feels that President Obama was too hands-off and too uninvolved in the BP Horizon oil spill.  Quotes from this man are notoriously hard to find.  It seems as though he has a clean up crew that looks around to cover up his constant changes in position.  I'd go so far as to say that if we were still in the television age, he could convince the American public that he has some consistent platform of integrity and opinion that he can stand on.

Unfortunately for him, this is the internet age, and you can never fully cover your tracks any more.  I found a short CNN blog on Mr. Romney's views, and it does well enough for me.  I know that if I looked around long enough, I could find a quote that states the complete opposite, but here's one of Mitt Romney's various opinions on the matter.  

"In this kind of a crisis situation, the president's response should have been to step in, bring in the experts, people from various oil companies, from leading institutions, academic and engineering firms and look at the options for actually capping this oil spill and then actually making those decisions," he says, "That is something which he has delegated to BP. As the company responsible for causing the spill in the first place, I think it was a mistake to rely on BP for 60 days or so to make the decisions on how to cap the oil spill. They have been ineffective in that regard."

Now does that sound like small government to you?

While he makes his grandiose pitch for government intervention and takeover of operations, he makes no mention of their actual liability in the matter.  He wants the government to come in and use our tax dollars to make the problem work.  Those "experts" and so on all cost money.  And we'd be the ones to pay for it.
As is the case with every government mandated action, the price of their services would artificially blow through the roof, and we'd be left footing the bill.

And look at it plain and simple:  Oil company makes a mistake, we clean it up?  We foot the bill?

So What's the Free Market Solution?

Did you ever think that there might be big money in cleaning up oil spills?

Did you ever think that someone could actually start a rapid response company to oilfield disasters like BP Horizon?

Did you ever think that if there were multiple competing companies in the oil spill cleanup industry that the cost of a clean up would actually drop, while the quality would improve?

Hold clean up agencies liable for the quality of their work the same way we hold automakers liable for their MPG claims.  Don't even create a tax incentive, just tell people who are already in the right place.  Do not limit anyone's liability for the damages they cause in any industry.

A damage control industry will be more effective, more efficient and more responsive than another government bureaucracy.

Scary as it sounds, Dr. Ron Paul's ideas of how to handle disasters like the BP oil spill make a lot more sense than Mitt Romney's.