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Let's Nationalize One More Industry   June 1st, 2010
Why not, precedent has already been set       

 
QUICK OBSERVATIONS

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If the government can take control of financial firms, car makers, and the health care industry, why stop there? That's essentially what Robert Reich says today, suggesting the government take over BP "temporarily."

It's time for the federal government to put BP under temporary receivership, which gives the government authority to take over BP's operations in the Gulf of Mexico until the gusher is stopped. This is the only way the public will know what's going on, be confident enough resources are being put to stopping the gusher, ensure BP's strategy is correct, know the government has enough clout to force BP to use a different one if necessary, and be sure the president is ultimately in charge.

If the government can take over giant global insurer AIG and the auto giant General Motors and replace their CEOs, in order to keep them financially solvent, it should be able to put BP's north American operations into temporary receivership in order to stop one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.


Wow... Just, WOW!

First of all, I'm not convinced that BP is dawdling on dealing with the problem. No, the operations have not yet been successful, but I haven't seen evidence that more money (or whatever) would have yielded different results. Simply put, in terms of dealing with the situation, what should BP have done differently? Has the government or the president offered any useful advice to BP which BP has ignored?

Second, why in the world would we want to be sure the president is ultimately in charge? Is that supposed to give us some confidence? Based on his lack of leadership on a multitude of issues over the last year--and his poor leadership on other issues--I'd put my money on the expertise in the private sector.

If the president wants to make himself useful, why doesn't he just go ahead and ask BP what naval resources the U.S. can offer to help resolve the situation? I'd be more confident about success if the U.S. offered naval assets to help BP than if the U.S. commandeered BP.

Or if having the president in control is really what we want, then why doesn't the president just say, "Hey, BP, thanks for the effort. Now get out of the way. The US Navy is going to take care of this and we're going to send you the bill."

But, no. Robert Reich suggests "If the government can take over giant global insurer AIG and the auto giant General Motors and replace their CEOs, in order to keep them financially solvent, it should be able to put BP's north American operations into temporary receivership..."

In other words, the government has already taken over several industries, why not another one? After all, "no crisis should go to waste." And now we're talking about a government takeover of a company not to supposedly save the larger economy, but because a group of people in government don't agree with a private company's operational decisions. Talk about a slippery slope!

The good news is that President Obama has shown that he really doesn't want to demonstrate leadership or take responsibility for anything that might harm him politically. So I rather doubt the president really wants to take control of the gulf operations since that would mean he'd not only have to lead, but that he might be taking responsibility for something that he can't be sure will help him politically if they aren't any more successful than BP at closing down the oil leak.

Still, the fact that Reich's suggestions are even being made tells us just how far we've gone in the wrong direction in this country.

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