Sunday, June 13, 2010

Government Delays Gulf Oil Spill Cleanup

by Ronnie Spangler

No one can defend British Petroleum (BP) for the disaster taking place in the Gulf Coast. That being said we must take a long hard look at how the US Government and this administration has reacted to this crisis. In the minds of most people it has been slow and dismal at best. Due to the bureaucracy built into are system we should have seen it coming and expected nothing better from our government.

With a system heaped in turf battles and bureaucrats fighting for organizational power, cleanup efforts and efforts to prevent the oil from coming ashore have been drastically undermined.

The President has tried to have it both ways. He has said we are in charge but BP is responsible and they are handling everything from containment to cleanup. The problem facing the government is competing agencies with different policies have different rules for the way BP deals with containment and cleanup. This has caused mass confusion and has hampered BP and Gulf Coast state governments in their efforts in both areas. This confusion has allowed not only the containment but also the actual cleanup to become a lackluster effort at best.

Not only must BP deal with the economic claims from residents and business along the coast, BP must try to understand and follow overlapping jurisdiction from a ever increasing number government agencies. Before they can take any action to prevent the spread of oil or the onshore cleanup, they must first make sure they have the approval and then follow the guidelines of each and every agency or bureaucrat.

It is no better for the states along the Gulf that must deal with all of these different federal agencies. Being a private entity, just try to imagine what it would be like trying to follow American laws (some written as far back as 1920) and all of the different rules of the different agencies of the Federal Government. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

Here are a few of the agencies BP and states along the Gulf must deal with during this crisis.

Coast Guard
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Office of Air and Radiation
Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Office of International Affairs
Office of Water
Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Department of Interior
Bureau of Land Management
Minerals Management Services
National Park Services
Fish and Wildlife Services
Corps of Engineers

There are more but each of the above agencies or divisions or offices within the agency has its own interest and guidelines that must be followed.

OSHA in its effort to protect American workers only allows contracted workers or Federal workers to work 20 minutes out of 60 minutes cleaning up oil that has reached the shore. At this rate for every 100 employees working for 20 minutes another 300 employees will be standing around for 40 minutes doing nothing. Americans working for Jiffy Lube changing oil in vehicles work 8 to 10 hours a day without this kind of policy.

If the President was serious about helping the Gulf area and reducing the effects of this disaster, in the very beginning he would have declared this a National Disaster. This would have allowed a national emergency response that could have relaxed or eliminated some of the political and bureaucratic infighting and confusion.

Lessons learned from this disaster will not be known for years to come. This Administration will never admit any failings. From the beginning they have felt it was only necessary to find fault and lay blame. I have still not been able to understand how the Federal Government (especially the Executive Branch) can abdicate government responsibility, procedures, or enforcement of federal policy such as closing or restricting access to public beaches, to private entities like BP.

The President will have his meeting with BP and give a great speech where he will announce a tougher stand and maybe a breakthrough on settling claims faster and more efficiently. One idea is to create an escrow account paid into by BP and having a third party independent committee settle the claims, more bureaucracy. If the government sector can really be more efficient than the private sector I would suggest BP place in escrow in each state along the Gulf $25 million dollars for the state agency to settle claims related to damages from the spill. This should carry residents and businesses through the year and will not release BP from future claims or damages. Money that was not spent by one state could be transferred to another state or more added as legitimate claims increased.

The biggest problem facing the government and BP will be deciding who and what part of the economy was effected by the oil spill and how much of a percentage point did the already failing economy play in industries like tourism. There is one fact that cannot be ignored. With the national unemployment rate near 10%, in some states 12%-15%, tourism would have declined not only along the Gulf but throughout the country as well. Families that could take a vacation or had extra money to spend had already decided to stay closer to home. Parents were discussing cheaper ways to enjoy their time off long before the oil spill. Another fact of life is normally unemployed people do not travel from state to state on vacations.

It is time to lay equal blame on both BP and the Federal Government for failing to limit the disaster of the accident on the oil rig. It is also time for America to understand that big government is not the answer to every problem. A large bureaucratic government only enlarges a problem and sometimes turns a crisis into a national disaster with far reaching consequences.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

BP Facing Bankruptcy Take Over

By Ronnie Spangler

British Petroleum (BP) is moving closer to the days of bankruptcy or a hostile take over by the Obama Administration or China. With their stock steadily declining in value it is only a matter of time before another interested party makes a move to buy up the cheap stock (as compared to other oil companies) and gain control of BP. China has already said they are interested in BP and some in Congress have suggested the Obama Administration should take over the North American Operations Division of BP. England has said privately that they would not be completely opposed to a move by President Obama taking over this part of the company. On the other hand England has warned the President his constant bereavement of BP has affected the value of the company so much that retirees in England are loosing money from dividend payments and it is beginning to affect their financial well being.

President Obama understands that most Americans could care less how the loss of dividend payments affects British shareholders and retirees so he will continue to hammer BP forcing their value on the market to steadily decline. Due to the President's political ideology and his stated goals of transforming America, he is determined to use this crisis in the Gulf to his advantage. Using the same scenario he used to gain control of General Motors the President is betting the Feds can out maneuver China after BP's stock falls low enough on the open market.

Given a choice England will do everything in their power to side with President Obama to prevent China from gaining control of BP. In the mind of British leaders and the board members of BP it will be a choice of two evils. Everyone in the business world sees what is going on but they are powerless to stop it. Gaining control of one of the largest companies in the oil industry will be just one more step in President Obama's plan for a total transformation of America.

People think President Obama is just incompetent or too inexperienced in the way he is handling the crisis in the Gulf. If you consider his ideology of never letting a crisis go to waste, working with BP to minimize the crisis would be the last thing he would want to do. Without shifting all of the blame, responsibility and anger onto BP his plan will not succeed.

Sadly as the lawyers get richer, more Americans become unemployed, revenues from tourism continue to decline, American anger towards BP continues to rise and the value of BP on the open market continues to fall the crisis in the Gulf will move to a higher level. That level will be announced by the Administration. Just before and as their excuse for taking over a controlling interest of BP, the Administration will declare it to be a matter of national interest.

For those that cannot understand why the President has not talked to the CEO of BP since the oil spill began, this is the only answer that makes sense. Will it work, only time will tell.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Obama, Moses and Ramses

By Ronnie Spangler

Trying to understand or predict the direction President Obama is leading the country into is like predicting the path of a tornado before it touches ground. One way to try to understand this President is to look at the past. In this comparison I will not reach definitive or personal opinion of the President simply because most will feel this is an unfair comparison. Why, because the comparison of events and actions taken by the main characters are of a real life President Obama verses the 1956 Hollywood version of "The Ten Commandments" Moses and Ramses. Is it fair, only to the extent that all three characters had their own idea of the direction they had envisioned for their country and/or people.

In the Hollywood and biblical version of Moses he was directed, guided and protected by God to set the enslaved people of Israel free from Egyptian bondage. Ramses on the other hand saw himself as the all powerful Pharaoh with his own God that was more powerful than any God of the Jews. While Moses was submissive to his God Ramses at times felt as Pharaoh he was a god, hence his belief that "I am Pharaoh I am Egypt."

So where does President Obama fit in? Like Ramses his arrogance leads him to believe that he and he alone can solve all of the problems of America and the world. In the movie Ramses often said, "So let it be written, so let it be done." This was his arrogant way of saying "I have made my decision and it is the right decision. No one should question it and no one can refuse to carry out my decision. I am Pharaoh and once my decision is written in stone the problem is solved."

It could be said that President Obama treats modern day problems much the same as Ramses. He did inherit an economy that was crashing and an unemployment crisis. His answer was health care reform, a huge spending spree and the take over of private industries. In this case he heard the problem, made his decision and once the Congress had written the policy the problem was solved. In reality nothing has been solved but in the mind of this President if everyone just follows his written word then the problem no longer requires his attention, except to occasionally remind people that everything is getting better.

In the case of Moses he never believed he had the answers for the problems facing the Israeli people. He asked God for guidance and left many of the decisions facing the Israeli people, up to the people. When he confronted Ramses and demanded that he let the enslaved people go, he demanded on behalf of God and told Ramses that God, not Moses, would punish Egypt if the Pharaoh refused. Moses being submissive to God understood and often said he had no power but that God had all the power and was using Moses to guide his people to the promised land. In simple terms Moses was a man of humility and free from arrogance.

With President Obama it has become increasingly clear that this is a man completely void of humility and steeped in arrogance. If everything goes right he, his supporters and most of the media, will always find a way to credit the President. If things go wrong there will always be someone to blame, witness the many soles thrown under the infamous Obama bus.

Under Ramses, Egypt was headed for total domination of the known world thereby enslaving the conquered people of other nations in order to enhance the power and riches of the Pharaoh. On the other hand, Moses was summoned by God to free his people from bondage and deliver them to the promised land. A land ruled by the people with the right to decide for themselves whether they would follow the laws of God and have his protection, or sway from God and be ruled by tyrants and dictators.

With the Pharaoh, the people have no say in the direction their country is going and no say in the matters of state. Ramses made all decisions for Egypt and never felt the need to listen to the common man. Moses informed the people of Israel of God's intentions for them and let the people make the decision to follow or not. Once they were free from the influence of Ramses they came to a crossroads where they must accept or defy the laws (Ten Commandments) sent down from God. Those that chose to follow the basic laws from God went on to form a nation with a government that listened to the people and based their decisions on the will of the people. When they as a nation strayed from those basic laws their nation was lost and once again fell to tyrants and dictators.

Today President Obama seems to have a total disregard for the will of the people. In every recent policy decision he has strayed from the will of the people. The majority of Americans were against his spending and expansion of the government. They were against his health care reform plan and take over of private industries. In each case he acted like father knows best and totally disregarded what the common person had to say.

When God punished Egypt with the ten plagues Ramses found he was powerless to stop the disasters that fell upon his nation. Today President Obama faces man-made disasters that he may or may not be able to control. In the Gulf oil spill he is conflicted on whether to take responsibility for the clean up efforts or continue to say it is the responsibility of British Petroleum. He tries to have it both ways by saying the government is in charge but British Petroleum is responsible. Meanwhile the oil continues to come onshore making the people angrier at both BP and the Federal government. He is quietly contemplating the idea of taking over BP's North American Production Division of British Petroleum but the disaster hasn't angered the American people enough that they would allow another take over of another private industry.

Another crisis facing America is the possibility of renewed fighting on the Korea peninsula and outbreak of war between Iran and Israel. Because of past speeches and actions taken by President Obama enemies of America, Israel and South Korea believe Mr. Obama to be a weak president and therefore view America as a weak country unwilling to fight along side our allies.

Again the President is on the wrong side of the opinion of the majority of Americans. He has made speech after speech against Iran obtaining nuclear weapons and North Korea's aggression toward South Korea but neither nation is listening. They are not buying his 'So let it be written so let it be done', attitude.

I am certain if President Obama had the opportunity to compare himself to the Hollywood or Biblical version of Moses or Ramses he would choose Moses with the caveat' that God does not talk to me. Some would say he is more like Ramses but I will let the reader make his own comparison and reach his own conclusion.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Obama and Transparency

By Ronnie Spangler

If President Obama wants to be true to his campaign promise, he will make public the list of countries illegals crossing our borders are coming from. As described in this report the government keeps an up to date list of illegals apprehended by CBP and Border Patrol agents. At one time this information was public, why did the government decide to hide it from the American people? Maybe the Arizona Governor Jan Brewer should bring this to President Obama's attention.

Watch the report here.

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