A Call for a Moratorium on Morons

A Call for a Moratorium on Morons

Gulf-area Republicans have taken quite a strange, short-run position on the just imposition of an offshore drilling moratorium

June 21, 2010

By Michael McFarland

Responding to a question from David Gregory while appearing as a guest on ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday, Mississippi Republican Governor Haley Barbour unleashed a whopper of a claim that the offshore drilling moratorium is the worst thing happening to the Gulf Region. Specifically, the question and answer unfolded as follows:

Gregory: “Governor, what’s worse, the moratorium or the effects of this spill on
the region?”

Barbour: “Well, the moratorium… the spill’s a terrible thing, but the moratorium
is a terrible thing that’s not only bad for the region, it’s bad for

If you haven’t incurred a severe case of whiplash as a result of reading this incredible exchange, that would certainly be a strong indicator of where your sensibilities lie. This position can only lie on the premise that the Deepwater Horizon tragedy is unquestionably a freak, unpreventable accident that has a less than miniscule probability of happening on another rig. This position carries the implication that the economic damage resulting from the moratorium on the majority portion of the region’s industry is a more devastating consequence than the ecological holocaust that has been unleashed on the region.

To be clear, that part of Barbour’s position is fair to debate, but what is not fair to debate is if we should simply knuckle under and charge ahead into a thick fog.

That fog is the uncertainty of the likelihood of a repeat of this disaster on another rig, the uncertainty of how to stop or even contain the ongoing disaster, the uncertainty of the level of safety as it relates to workers’ health in the current environment, the uncertainty of shortcuts used by rig companies throughout the Gulf in the interest of expedited production and inflated profits, the uncertainty of the safety measures and safeguards employed by other rig-operating companies.

We cannot handle the spew we currently have, so what would we do in the instance of another spew?

These uncertainties, hence the moratorium.

The economic damage as a result of the moratorium is not a matter of fault to the president, nor the government in general. The fault always lies with BP/Transocean/Halliburton, period. The sentiments expressed by Barbour fail to account for the separate $100 million uncapped account for unemployment benefits acquired by the president from BP for Gulf area residents.

This then begs the question, “If it’s a matter of economic survival of those residents, yet their economic survival is accounted for, then in whose interest does lifting the moratorium serve?” The benefit cannot fall to the residents, because they will have access to an uncapped fund to carry them through the duration of this process. The benefit does not fall to the government because lifting the moratorium puts the government in a position that opposes the interests of the citizens it is charged with protecting. Therefore, the benefit can only fall to the Gulf area oil companies because the moratorium impedes their ability to produce, which in turn impedes their ability to profit from those operations.

Oil is a fungible commodity. In short, that simply means that what is drilled goes into a pot with all the other oil that is drilled in the world. That pot of oil is then sold off in quantities on a global commodities market. So, when a gas company or a plastics company buys oil from that pot, they can’t possibly know where the oil originally came from. The pack of plastic food containers you buy tomorrow at your local grocery store may well have been made with oil from BP’s rig operations. When you stop at your local mom and pop gas station, what you pump into your car may well be from BP as well. There is simply no way to tell.

With that understanding, it becomes much clearer how the moratorium only hurts the Gulf area oil companies and no one else, so long as the unemployment fund is also accounted for in this analysis.

From Barbour calling the moratorium the most damaging thing in the Gulf to neighboring Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal filing an amicus brief to compel the courts to force a lifting of the moratorium to Texas Republican Representative Joe Barton’s shameful apology to BP during a Congressional hearing to Minnesota Republican Representative Michelle Bachmann encouraging BP to not let itself be made a “chump” to Georgia Republican Representative Tom Price fathering the “shakedown” talking point to Kentucky Republican Senate hopeful Rand Paul’s defense against the president’s “un-American” bullying of BP to the Republican Right Wing radio bullhorning of the president’s “tyranny” against BP, the list goes on and on.

Republicans have not only staked their claim in this fight, they have put on full display their philosophical opposition to the US and its citizens. “Profits über älles” truly encapsulates the Republican position. Instead of pulling to the side of the road when encountered with a heavy fog, Republicans would rather that we put the pedal to the metal and plow through whatever lies ahead in the fog. It is a completely reckless position to operate from.

Death and destruction be damned, there’s money to be made….


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