May 9th, 2010 23:53 EST
Oil Industry Must Prove It Can Handle Disasters
There is an unsettling similarity between the recent bank crisis and the unfolding oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
In both cases exploitative industries had carte blanche to stuff money in their pockets without having to prove to anyone that they were prepared for trouble ahead.
Congress is mulling over 2,615 pages of financial reform legislation that doesn`t require banks to have enough cash or readily convertible assets on hand when credit dries up. Can this be called reform?
And no law or regulation required British Petroleum or any of the other energy companies extracting oil from the gulf to demonstrate that they could handle a blowout of the magnitude that is now occurring. The pictures in today`s newspapers of the dome hastily built to cap the spill is mute and damning testament to the unpreparedness of the drillers to prevent environmental tragedies. Only a paid apologist would argue that this dome is anything but a jury-rig.
The livelihoods of thousands of Americans are threatened by the developing environmental disaster. It is possible the grasslands that support our most productive fishery are in danger of collapse. How did BP convince authorities that such a blowout could be managed?
What this seems to suggest is that the rhetoric rained upon us by the press means little when industry lobbyists line the pockets of legislators.
If the banks will not be required to have enough capital on hand to back up the risks they`re taking and if BP and the other oil companies will not have to prove they know how to cap a blowout, what does reform mean?
In the case of banks, the issue is called liquidity risk management. The drying up of credit and excessive risk-taking resulted in a taxpayer bailout of certain banks, just as Louisiana and the federal government are now rushing in to bail BP out of its lack of risk management.
What explains this abysmal failure of common sense in Congress? Surely the answer is money. The banking and the energy industries simply bribed Congress to do nothing about risks that anyone with modest common sense could have foreseen.
And now this betrayal of the public trust is being wrapped up in legalistic language, making jobs for lawyers but not for the rest of us.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy. His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.
He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com