Lessons from the Deepwater Horizon

Thirty-some days of gushing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico may provide some lessons in life. Or maybe not. Do we humans actually learn much from mistakes or do we generally commit them over and over again?  Take war, for example- clearly we’ve never learned that lesson and, in fact, hold our collective breath as the folks on the Korean Peninsula puff themselves up yet again.

Did ‘we’ need oil so badly that ‘we’ had to sink a drill over a mile down under the sea to get it?  And why was this so necessary- so necessary that it’s potential disaster was overlooked by so many people who ought to have known better? Including the government agency charged with regulating such exploration.

Drill Baby Drill!

Rather than moving forward with the development of 21st century energy resources, ‘we’ allowed an oil corporation to jeopardize the fate of an entire water basin so that they could make money. This is perhaps the ultimate example of corporate greed in a society that doesn’t much care these days about people.  Profits rule. As does less government interference.

But wait!  Haven’t we been down this path once before?  Seems to me that in history class I heard about…

Lessons lost and besides, who cares about the past?

So then, are we as a nation as stupid as we seem to be? Why don’t we ever learn from our mistakes?  Just one non-oil example may be helpful.  The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 worked well in regulating the risk potential of the banking institutions of America yet it was repealed in 1999.  Why?  So that a few corporate bankers could make more money. What was the outcome of this risky adventure?

I often told my children the axiom, ‘Short-term gain, long-term loss’ and its more positive corollary, ‘Short-term loss, long-term gain.’  Homework and diligence at school was the subject of those lessons.

What, one may ask, did we ‘gain’ from the mile-long underwater gamble in the Gulf of Mexico? And what did we lose?

It seems to me that our leaders as well as the citizens of this nation ought to heed that simple bit of wisdom gleaned from the many mistakes that are detailed in our history books.  But will we or will we continue to ignore them, cross our fingers, click our ruby slippers, and hope for the best?

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