The Buck, and the Oil, Stops With BP Alone

As the oil flows in the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s ruptured well, so does the BS from Obama’s White House in Washington. Using the privately created crisis as an excuse for government involvement and political grandstanding, Obama was recently quoted by CNN as saying:

“’BP is the responsible party for this disaster,’ he said. ‘But as I said yesterday and as I repeated in the meeting we just left, I ultimately take responsibility for solving this crisis. I’m the president, and the buck stops with me.’”

Well, the first portion of Obama’s statement is obvious and true enough. But what is he alluding to in what follows? That he just accepted an offer of employment from British Petroleum?

Hardly: He’s doing what all government bureaucrats do all the time — arrogating power to themselves over areas where they have no legitimate authority, namely, the lives and property of others.

Now, if Obama really wants to help “solve this crisis,” he could offer his personal labor as a volunteer cleaning up washed ashore oil on Louisiana beaches. Don’t hold your breath, though. What he’s doing is to order an array of tax-financed government employees into action at collective public expense to deal with a disaster that — as he openly admits — is the responsibility of BP and BP alone.

Many might argue that a calamity of this proportion justifies intervention by another party or parties; that left to its own devices, BP will never assume full responsibility or engage in a full and thorough cleanup effort without government guns being held to the CEO’s head.

Other than the basic libertarian-voluntaryist-anarchist objection to the initiation of aggression against anyone, there are several things wrong with such assumptions. In a true free-market system (which can only exist in a complete absence of political government), BP and/or its insurers would be held fully accountable for any and all damages to others’ property. This would also include the Gulf of Mexico since, without government, all property on earth would be private. Any failure to do so would spell economic disaster for all such enterprises — not only in the form of torts initiated in private dispute resolution firms (instead of government courts), but also in terms of public willingness to continue purchasing BP’s products.

Copping out on responsibilities is bad business, period. BP — and other firms like them — would be insured to the hilt against such risks, and incentive to avoid any such environmental calamaties would be paramount. As it stands, corporate interests are all too capable of relying upon government bailouts and assistance — such as the hand Obama is extending — in exchange for political capital and power-grabbing. The result is that BP escapes from assuming full responsibility, government grows both in power and size — and all of us foot the bill with a gun to our heads.

It’s time to recognize that government has no proper role in this arena — or any other. The buck doesn’t stop with Obama, as much as he’d like to convince us all otherwise, and he has no legitimate right to use our hard-earned bucks to assist BP, or to do anything else at all. It is BP who, in a free market and a free society, are responsible for stopping the oil leak, cleaning up any mess it caused, and fully compensating anyone and everyone who has suffered damage as a result of this accident. That is anarchism, and it is justice. Government, by its very nature, falls far short of this.

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