By Dave Lindorff
President Obama claims to have learned a lesson from the disastrous blowout of British Petroleum drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico: a "cozy relationship" between the agency that regulates oil drilling, the Minerals Management Service, and the oil industry, he charges, allowed companies to drill in vulnerable offshore areas without properly assessing the risks to the ocean and its ecology.
He's only just figuring this out?
Hell, we already had an example of the problem of "cozy relations" between regulators and industry. The bank crisis that produced the current recession was the financial equivalent of a much bigger oil-well blowout than the Deepwater Horizon rig. It was a catastrophic blowout of the entire global financial system--and it was precipitated by an identical "cozy relationship" between US bank regulators and the banking industry that they were supposed to be regulating. That financial blowout has left almost one in five US workers without jobs now for two years, with no end in sight. And like the giant hidden plumes of oil spreading out in deep layers of the Gulf and heading for the Gulf Stream, it also spread to Europe and beyond, hobbling economies around the world.
But that's only the beginning. If a "cozy relationship" between regulators and the industries they are supposed to be regulating is a bad thing when it comes to the oil industry, is this because the oil industry is particularly evil and corrupt or is it the principle of the thing? Of course not. As corrupt as the oil industry is, no one could say that industry is unique in its efforts to skirt rules, buy legislators, manipulate prices or poison the public.
So why is the president only talking about this one "cozy relationship"?
What about the drug industry and the Food and Drug Administration?