Not So Deep Thoughts

Part V: Just Like Starting Over

Why Libertarianism is a bad idea, reason #57.

Posted by jkhutchins on June 12, 2010

The oil spill in the Gulf right now is a perfect example of why libertarianism is not a good way to run a government.

So.  Assume Ron Paul won the election, and abolished all regulatory agencies overnight.  The Roberts court backed him up.  All preexisting regulations were revoked.   Interstate Commerce was reinterpreted to mean the states couldn’t impose tariffs on each other or block roads.

BP is drilling in the Gulf with no oversight whatsoever.  Since this particular well was planned long before the government turnover, they continue to go on with it even though they are also starting up operations in Alaska.  As a company, they will do what is best for them and presumably maximize their profits by using an appropriate amount of safety procedures.

The rig blows.  At this point, BP doesn’t really have to do much.  Sure, they probably want to plug up the hole so they don’t lose all the oil out of it, but nobody is going to enforce their doing so.   There is no one TO enforce their doing so. And if they decide it’s more cost effective to just leave it behind.. well, there is nobody to tell them different.

Individuals can sue for damage to their personal property.  It might take years, but the fishermen will have standing to sue.   People who have homes directly damaged by the oil will have standing to sue.   People who lose all value in their homes as the oil destroys the city probably won’t.  Whether people can sue for the destruction of the habitat is another story.  And of course, if the states involved have had tort reform.. well, there aren’t any punitive damages.  BP may not have a lot of incentive to settle, just wait out the court system.  Additionally, in this brave new world of corporate right to full free speech, what little power the government has left could limit damages.

Regulation doesn’t exist just to make life more inconvenient.

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