“I am furious at this entire situation because this is an example where somebody didn’t think through the consequences of their actions. This is imperiling an entire way of life and an entire region for potentially years.”—President Obama 6/04/2010

“The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas, much of it for the first time, officials said …Mr. Obama said several times during his presidential campaign that he supported expanded offshore drilling. He noted in his State of the Union address in January that weaning the country from imported oil would require “tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.”—John Broder in The New York Times—3/30/2010

Cleary, a fair assessment is that President Obama is in way over his head. But this is no knock on Obama.  How could it be otherwise for any politician wedded to central planning? Even competent, well-reasoned, and well-intended planners cannot outperform the collective wisdom of the market. Offshore oil drilling such as BP’s Deepwater Horizon site were enabled by politicians who substituted their policies and plans—in the form of liability limits—for the wisdom of the market. The catastrophic results will change the lives of millions.

Leadership begins with taking responsibility for your own mistakes, not by chanting a not-my-fault mantra.  The President and his enablers are trying to make believe he is apart from and not part of the problem. This colossal failure of leadership during a time of rising fear, falling stock prices, a simmering economic depression, and now, an environmental catastrophe will brew dangerous political extremism on both the right and the left.

Dmitry Orlov witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union, and sees parallels between the disaster at Chernobyl and the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe. His view of the future is darker than mine but he warns:

It is natural for us to naïvely expect our leaders—be they corporate executives or their increasingly decorative and superfluous adjuncts in government—to be our betters, having been picked for leadership positions by their ability to lead us through difficult and unfamiliar terrain. We expect them to have the mental agility and flexibility to be able to revise their mental maps as the circumstances dictate. We don’t expect them to be stupid, and are surprised to find that indeed they are…These leaders are now attempting to lead us all on a dream-walk to oblivion.

See also:

The Failed Assumption

Accessories to the Crime

The Wisdom of the Market and the BP Disaster


4 Responses to Hypocrite-in-Chief

  1. Chris C. says:

    Political hubris is redundant. Which should be obvious, since who but someone completely egocentric and full of him- or her-self would go through all that the electoral process entails in order to tell other people how to (allegedly better) run their lives. It’s a real pity that few of them receive what should be their just deserts. (Yes, yes, I know that life is not “fair”, nor do many people get what they “deserve”. But I can wish. Even though I believe that I have received better returns from life, so far, than I expected from my inputs.)

  2. John A Wood says:

    Dear Barry

    I very much enjoy and appreciate your contributions.

    I make a determined effort to explore material that does not sit comfortably with my philosophy of everyday living (although in the main your material does) and I do this in pursuit of a deeper understanding of the world in which I live. Of course, the downside to doing that is the doubt and confusion I create.

    Where State involvement is concerned I see that some, with great conviction, push for very limited involvement while others take an opposite view. And there are also those for whom various blends of the above make sense.

    For me, a fairly successful business background morphed quite some time ago into an abiding interest in the Humanities – which in turn led me inexorably to an abandonment of any fixed position.

    At 68 I am now, far from being convinced of my own wisdom (via the accumulation of knowledge and the illusion that ‘age’ grants us this wisdom) ever more convinced that I reside in a place of uncertainty – incongruously, a deep conviction that nothing is black and white; nothing is absolute. Or perhaps I should say that absolute positions, without a contextual setting, tend to polarise rather than resolve issues.

    It is within that contextual setting that doing what works (as I did for many years as entrepreneur), in context with doing what matters (that is, via a state of mind in which love, understanding, wisdom and commonsense were the guiding forces); leads quite naturally to responsibility, integrity and sustainability.

    Sadly, it is a philosophical stance which does not resonate with or attract mainstream thinkers; and is often a lonely place to find oneself in.

    Forgive, if you will, the length of my preamble – it puts in context my question to you…

    “Would you be willing to outline (in essay form) what in your view the precise role and limitations of the State should be?”



  3. Steve P says:

    Apparently Obama’s Chief of Staff has ties to BP, perhaps contributing to the generally tepid response of the White House to the whole disaster. Here’s the link to a worldnet daily story: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=163281

  4. Chris,

    Someday soon we can hope that the political climate will shift enough to make candidates viable who are not narcissistic.


    Our views on this issue may be closer than you might expect. I am writing an economics book and the role of Love in generating sustainable prosperity will play a prominent role. (Of course you and I are not talking about romantic love.)

    The role of the State? I no longer try to define it as exactly as I did when I was younger. Why? The State will continue to grow and then eventually contract in exact measure to changes in our collective consciousness. In other words, a theoretical understanding of the ideal role of the State may be interesting but what is needed is a change in our collective mind.

    The late Murray Rothard used to ask would you push the button that would result in the “the instantaneous abolition of all invasions of liberty?” I would ask instead are we willing to change our mind about beliefs that result in invasions of liberty. I’m working on a blog post about Rothbard and the Gulf of Mexico BP spill.


    Secretary of Energy Steven Chu also has ties to BP—having received “grants” from them.

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