Oil, Water, Sin

What has gone wrong with the world? Good grief, where did we fail? How did we fall so far?

If I’m going to blog, I may as well try to tell the truth. There’s oil gushing from a hole in the bottom of the ocean floor. It’s a horror movie come true.

The mob screamed for government to get out of the way, free corporate capitalism to give us unimagined wealth. Now, the mob screams for government to do something. How ironic that the same people who fumed that Obama’s health care reform put us on the road to socialized medicine are now furious because Obama  won’t nationalize BP. Seems to me that Obama is doing a good job by keeping his head when all about him other people are losing their’s.


No oil in the water at my part of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet.


Oil keeps gushing, more and more every day. It’s washing up on the beaches. Government, save us. David Broder writes that the BP oil spill will be Barack Obama’s Iranian hostage crisis.  The President! Why doesn’t the president do something? Why won’t he send in the military? “Give us Barrabas!” This could come straight from the Bible, or from “Lord of the Flies.”  Get the president! He’s smart, he looks different, he doesn’t care.  He won’t stop the oil leak! “Crucify him!”

The nuns used to say that trouble in the world is the result of sinfulness, the cumulative worldwide weight of our small sins of omission and commission. Maybe the nuns were on to something. If so, I would trace our predicament to all our cumulative sins of greed. Or perhaps worship of false idols.

Now, it is common to talk of corruption, not sin. Corruption in government, corruption in business, corruption in bureaucracy. Government, business and bureaucracy, of course, are made up of individual human beings. Right now, the blame police are examining every omission and commission associated with the oil spill, in an effort to name the sins, or to expose a culture of corruption in BP and government agencies.

(While we ponder corruption and sin, I think we should also remember that possibly it is not sin or corruption, but human mistakes, unintended errors of omission and commission. I would even suggest one last, unlikely possibility, that the oil spill is an accident or an act of nature that was unpreventable.)

In the case of government dysfunction, my neighbor at Lost On The Shore suggests we are all responsible:

“You see, we either want things that are opposite of each other, or things that are impossible or we don’t know what we want . . .

Our politicians can’t solve our problems for us because we want it both ways and we don’t want to compromise.”

I agree with his analysis. We want too much, or we want what we cannot have.  I hope  we repent and change. We can reform our values. We can change the way we live. We can, if we have the will, refuse to tolerate corruption. We should do it for ourselves, and for our children and grandchildren.

— John Hayden

BP Offshore Oil Disaster Is A Game-Changing Event

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The mile-deep gusher at BP’s offshore oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has ended President Barack Obama’s proposal for new offshore oil drilling, just as surely as the collapse of the stock market, and the housing and credit bubbles, snuffed out President George W. Bush’s plan to invest Social Security funds in the stock market.

In the wake of the BP oil disaster, thousands of people chanting “Drill baby, drill,” would seem surreal.

Thus are presidential policy options narrowed by unpredictable forces.  Leaders deal with the world as it is, not as they wish it to be.

Events not only narrow a president’s choices; events can change the direction of a president’s attention, like a river cutting a new channel. Events can force a president’s hand, as war forces a choice between guns and butter.

It is left to great men to answer the question: “What do we do now?” And then to do it well.

Great men affect history by choosing wisely among limited options. Even more, perhaps, great men affect history by thoroughness of planning and excellence of implementation. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower became great because he thoroughly planned and successfully implemented the invasion of Normandy.

George W. Bush became a bungler because he made the wrong military decision, war in Iraq.  Then he compounded the error by failing to plan and implement the war.

Abraham Lincoln made the right choices, but would he be considered a great president if he had lost the Civil War?

Now President Obama’s policy initiatives at home appear increasingly limited by political and economic realities.  I hope that events do not force the president to turn his attention to war.

— John Hayden

CAUTION: World Economic Crisis Phase II, Political and Social Upheaval

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Inhabitants of Spaceship Earth are suffering through an ongoing economic crisis. I say “crisis,” only because my mind cannot grasp the enormity of total worldwide economic “collapse.” Whatever you call it, we are living in a period of  economic change and dislocation.

Now begins Phase II of the crisis, in which the pain from economic dislocation begets social and political unrest. Some obvious symptoms:

  • Failure of the United States political system to compromise on universal health care, or on immigration policy.
  • Rise of the Tea Party protest movement in the U.S.
  • States in the U.S., and nations in Europe, on the brink of insolvency.
  • Rioting in Greece against government austerity measures.
  • Demonstrations in Arizona against a state crackdown on Mexican immigrants.

Unpredictable acts of nature — such as Hurricane Katrina and the volcano in Iceland — or manmade disasters — such as an offshore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — send shock waves through the unstable economy.

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On all sides, people remain in determined denial and resist acknowledging or sharing culpability for economic damage.  Wall Street arrogantly resists financial restrictions. Voters everywhere reject tax increases.

Social cohesion breaks down as elites withdraw, militias form, terrorism spreads. Groups and individuals protect self-interest, rather than support community interest. Social and political divisions harden, willingness to cooperate or compromise evaporates, battle lines are drawn. The governing emotions are anger, and fear.

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Economic fear could turn into panic on any given day. But perhaps the economic crisis will subside over time, and lead to needed reforms. Meanwhile, the ride will be bumpy. We may be seeing only the beginning of protests and riots. Social and political unrest might continue and intensify for a long time, possibly leading to localized violence, chaos, or anarchy.

No one can predict the future. Fasten your seatbelt and hope for the best.

— John Hayden

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