Ah, delicious irony.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal now is begging for government assistance as the BP oil spill threatens his state's fisheries, shipping, tourism, and coastal environment. This is the same guy who said this in response to a speech Obama gave to a joint session of Congress:
We place our hope in you, the American people. In the end, it comes down to an honest and fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government. We oppose the National Democratic view that says the way to strengthen our country is to increase dependence on government. We believe the way to strengthen our country is to restrain spending in Washington, to empower individuals and small businesses to grow our economy and to create jobs.
A Salon article about Jindal's "oil spill crisis of faith" says:
The parallels are obvious. After Wall Street broke the U.S. economy -- call it a "financial sector failure" -- Obama pushed through a stimulus bill aimed at jump-starting demand and providing assistance to the millions of Americans who lost their jobs and homes as a result of the financial crisis. This week, after BP broke the Gulf economy, Jindal is seeking aid for citizens of his own state. It's always a different story when your own ox is the one getting gored.
Yes, indeed. As the saying goes, corporate America likes to privatize profits and socialize losses -- a sentiment shared by Republican politicians and right-wing talk show hosts.
You can bet that there will be a chorus of conservative criticism about the government's response to a private sector oil spill. Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster. This oil spill is corporation-caused.
BP says that it will pay for the clean-up costs. The government intends to bill BP for the deployment of all the federal resources being used to deal with the oil spill. And it's not surprising that BP's stock price is sinking significantly.
That's as it should be. But hopefully people will take away a larger -- and marvelously simple -- message from this mess: government is us. The collective "we care" side of us.
We all spend a bunch of money by ourselves, for ourselves. Through our taxes we also contribute a bunch of money for stuff that benefits us all (including ourselves, obviously.)
Health care. Education. National defense. Scientific research. And yes, dealing with environmental disasters.
Tea Party types who claim they want government to stay out of their lives are being hypocritical. They don't want to give up their government benefits: their Social Security, their Medicare, their portion of the Interstate highway system that they drive on.
We're seeing this play out in Louisiana, where suddenly the government is supposed to be the state's savior, rescuing it from the mistakes made by BP. Well, hopefully citizens across the country will learn a broader lesson from the Gulf oil spill.
Bad stuff happens. Cancer. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Financial meltdowns. Global warming. Species extinctions. Wars. Terrorist attacks.
Yes, people need to act individually to deal with serious problems. However, we also need to act collectively. That's what government is: people coming together to do what individuals can't.
Why collective action in pursuit of the common good is demonized by government-haters baffles me. I guess they are the selfish side of the American citizenry, people who only care about themselves, not about helping others.
Until they need help. Then, like Governor Jindal, they become a lot fonder of the government that they claimed was so useless and unnecessary.