Monday, May 10, 2010

The Question, the Answer.

BP's Preparedness for Major Crisis Is Questioned -
BP's plan, as submitted to the Mineral Management Service, placed exceedingly low probabilities on oil reaching land in the event of a major spill. Even in the case of the worst spill, BP said, there was only a 3% chance that oil would come ashore after a month in any part of the Gulf other than Plaquemines, La., which juts into the Gulf south of New Orleans.

Mr. Gowers defended BP's clean-up operation. "We moved very rapidly to implement the approved response to the accident," he said. "The evidence for that is the huge containment effort on the surface and onshore."

So the age old question that must be asked of those up to their necks in failure: "Are you a liar or just stupid?"

And the age old response from those eager to avoid any response at all: "Well our intentions were good and we are trying really hard."

Our modern world is getting more practice at asking the question, as well as trying to probe its way around the non-answer.

We have asked or soon will be asking the question of those who have led Greece into a position well beyond bankruptcy. And then there are other countries such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, Ireland, England, US states like California, Connecticut, Colorado, and the uncounted US cities who are cutting services while raising taxes while citizens scratch their heads.

Show an average citizen of any of the above entities a pie chart of where all the money goes and their jaws are sure to drop. But most of those published pie charts are incomplete, not including thing that are "off budget" (translation: secret from taxpayers) such as generous retirement programs for government workers. My favorite quote from sources above:
The party in power never seems to want to cut spending, but ultimately that is the only solution. The spending is unproductive to begin with, so eliminating it should be a net benefit.

Unproductive indeed. How many people in the US were inconvenienced by the "shutdown" of the federal government for three weeks? How many people even remember or were aware of it? If only that shutdown had involved unpaid leave for the many government workers told to stay home in what amounted to an extra vacation. For hose of us deemed "essential" productivity soared during the time we didn't have to deal with those deemed non-essential. Too bad the shutdown was more for show than anything else. Too bad that our future may hold shutdowns that are less orderly, taking productive workers along with the laggards.

So... Do we wait for all these things to happen to ask our leaders, the press, the pundits the question, remember the question: "Are you a liar or just stupid?"

And when the time comes will we accept the answer that we are sure to get: "Well our intentions were good and we are trying really hard."

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