Belief systems at a turning point

The Oil Drum via Energy Bulletin

It seems to me with the BP Horizon Blowout, we may be hitting a turning point in belief systems, in more than one way:

• Can businesses really be expected to regulate themselves, with minimal oversight?

• Can technology solve all our problems?

• If there are technological solutions, can they be expected immediately?

• Can we really depend on the oil supply that everyone has told us is here?

1. Can businesses really be expected to regulate themselves, with minimal oversight?

Once upon a time, back in the pre-Reagan era, capitalism and profits didn’t seem to have quite the emphasis they have today in the the way the country functioned.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” and people took him seriously. Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1963 to 1969 period was responsible for designing the “Great Society” legislation that included laws that upheld civil rights, Public Broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, aid to education, and his “War on Poverty.”

But by 1980, the country had been through a lot of hard times, with the decline in US oil supply starting in 1970, Nixon canceling the convertibility of dollar to gold in 1971, real wages starting to decline in 1973, and the oil price shock of 1973-1974.

Ronald Reagan was elected as US president in 1980. He was known policies that much more oriented toward laisse faire capitalism, including trickle down economics, reduced taxes, getting tough on labor unions, and deregulation of businesses.

The BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and what appears to be questionable internal decisions, makes one wonder about whether this deregulation really makes sense. There were hints that deregulation might be a problem before–with Enron’s manipulation of energy markets and creative accounting, discovered in 2001, followed by all of the bank bailouts in 2008 and 2009.

Now, when one hears all the detailed allegations made in the BP incident, one wonders whether our faith in deregulation might be misplaced…

More here.

One Comment

I’m a big fan of free market, but for that ideal to work it takes informed consumers making the right decisions, it all has to start there. Let’s not forget that half of the equation is “demand”.


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