The Gulf Coast Oil Spill -- A Much Needed Wake-Up Call

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Don't worry about Wall Street. They'll police themselves and keep our money safe.

Don't worry about whether those coal mines meet safety standards. Mine owners will make sure those workers are protected.

Don't worry about those contaminated children's medications. Drug companies would never sell you anything that could hurt your kids.

Don't worry about those secret White House oil industry meetings. Our government would never make a deal that would endanger the coastlines, wildlife, or families who make their livings in those areas.

I know there are other lies we've been sold that have come back to haunt us recently, but I'm too tried just thinking about these to list any more.


But there is a way to keep these kinds of lies and deceptions in check -- it's called government regulation. I know, I know -- my conservative compatriots are going to scream about that, but huge corporations and businesses have proven time and time again they can't be trusted with the "free enterprise and competition are the only regulations we need" concept.

Many big corporations can't help themselves when it comes to increasing their profits at any cost, so there has to be a role for government in keeping them in check until those corporations can prove they can be trusted with our country's money, land, and lives.

You know -- sort of like the parenting rule that your teen doesn't get the keys to the family car unless and until they prove themselves responsible and careful. And then you still might follow them down your street so you can see how they're using their judgment and steering that car.

Just think where we'd be today if Congress hadn't repealed Glass-Steagall, if the appropriate agencies had punished coal mine owners who didn't want to be bothered spending money to keep their employees safe, if the FDA had spent a little more time inspecting those who make children's medicine, and if we had actually been privy to those secret White House oil meetings during the George W. Bush administration.

Why, we'd have more money for our kids' college educations, fewer deaths of loved ones, and a few more live dolphins.

There are plenty of conservatives who claim that government regulation is going to be the death of democracy as we know it. But it's become clear that for some, free enterprise is solely about the almighty dollar with little or no consideration to anything else, not even political ideology. If it wasn't, when it comes to the massive oil spill we've been experiencing in the Gulf of Mexico, it would have been stopped by now.

I don't buy the whole "we don't know how to stop this leak" story. I believe someone in the BP/Transocean/Halliburton triumvirate knows exactly how to stop it -- they just don't want to because if there's a way to save the well (or should I say the oil that's still gushing from the well) and make money in the future, they'll do whatever it takes to find it, no matter how many dolphins die, no matter how many people lose their livelihoods, and no matter the potential health consequences for those who live where the oil comes ashore.

Joanne Bamberger also writes the political blog, PunditMom, when she's not driving her fourth-grader to soccer practice and wondering how she's going to keep that fourth-grader busy for 12 weeks of summer vacation.

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