Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How Politicians Are Killing America's "Can-Do" Spirit

Florida governor Charlie Crist can't stop proving why he's the wrong type of person to send to Washington. When polling showed him far behind Marco Rubio in the upcoming Republican Senate primary race, he abandoned the Republican Party and betrayed his former supporters to become an Independent candidate.

And now, he's calling a special legislative session to try to ban oil drilling close to Florida's coast in clear defiance of popular opinion that we should be doing more offshore oil drilling. While the Deepwater spill is a tragedy with 11 oil workers dead, I don't want to downplay the importance of fixing the leak and cleaning up the results. I can't help but notice that not only is Crist grandstanding for the radical left-wing environmentalist vote, he's simultaneously doing his best to kill the "can-do" spirit of America.

This is becoming a very real problem in Washington.

Once upon a time, Americans felt like we could do anything because, well, we could do anything. Virtually nothing was beyond our reach, not even the heavens themselves. We put men on the moon even after the tragedy of Apollo I took three of our finest astronauts, Ed White, Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom. This is only one example of the spirit of accomplishment that stirs the soul of America. Everywhere, that is, except in Washington.

There's a trend emerging and it's gaining momentum. It's not a good trend. It's the result of unthinking career politicians who are far more concerned with winning the next election than actually doing what's right for the people. While we've had to tolerate a certain amount of this trend, lately it's begun to have a decidedly negative impact on the nation.

It goes something like this:

1. Some well meaning but woefully misinformed politician decides to introduce legislation that extends the influence of government into areas that were previously left alone in an attempt to "look busy".

2. Somewhere along the line, government fails in its' duty to enforce the law that it created.

3. Disaster comes as a direct result of that failure.

4. Politicians declare the entire institution that it attempted to control a failure.

We're seeing a variation of this trend in states that border Mexico. The federal authorities fail to enforce border security, crime skyrockets as a result, forcing the state to step in and perform the duties that the federal government strangely refuses to do.

Another example is the housing bust. The main cause of our current recession is the Community Redevelopment Act, signed into law by Jimmy Carter and strengthened by Bill Clinton. This law forced lending institutions to issue loans to people who couldn't afford a house, leading to an avalanche of defaults and toxic debt that we've yet to recover from. Incredibly, there are now some "progressive" politicians who are declaring capitalism to be failed when the real problem lies in the governments' overregulation of markets, forcing businesses to become more creative in the pursuit of profits. I repeat: capitalism has not failed. It is the government intrusion into the free market that has caused the problem.

The Deepwater Platform disaster is the latest incarnation of this trend. Following the spill of the Exxon Valdez, the federal government devised a system to contain oil spills while they were a safe distance from shore. Curiously, this system was not implemented by the Obama administration, nor was its readiness evaluated. Had this system been tested for readiness, someone would have noticed the absence of the necessary equipment to contain a spill. Obama went golfing, and Ken Salazar went white water rafting instead of doing their duty to minimize the damage to the Gulf coast in the first days of the spill.

Now, Charlie Crist wants to ban offshore drilling. Why? Charlie, have you given any thought to what you're doing to the people of Florida and the nation? Do you not realize that, due to the recession, many families drive to Florida for their vacations instead of fly? And do you see any other countries who are now drilling in the Gulf of Mexico halting their drilling efforts? Are you not aware of the very important role that oil plays in our economy and that there is no equivalent substitute? You are doing nothing to benefit the people by driving up the cost of oil products.

Yes, drilling for oil is dangerous, dirty business. But we have the smarts to minimize any potential damage to life and property. Considering the importance of oil to our economy, what we should be doing is making certain that emergency plans are in place to contain spills and regularly test their readiness to respond to a disaster.

We can drill for oil safely and with minimal environmental impact, but that requires a willingness of politicians to think beyond their next electoral race and to actually do their job.

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