Issues Big and Small
I’ve been preoccupied, today, with the sorts of thoughts that are hugely important to the individual, but quotidian details on a larger scale… and there’s been so much on that larger scale that might otherwise have merited consideration. The economy, obviously:
The recovery lost momentum in the spring as growth slowed to a 2.4 percent pace, its most sluggish showing in nearly a year and too weak to drive down unemployment. …
… the recovery has been losing power for two straight quarters. That raises concerns about whether it will fizzle out. Or worse, tip back into a “double-dip” recession. …
In the revisions issued Friday, the government estimated that the economy shrank 2.6 percent last year — the steepest drop since 1946. That’s worse than the 2.4 percent decline originally estimated. The economy’s plunge underscores why the unemployment rate surged to 10.1 percent in October, a 26-year high.
Businesses appear to have the resources to expand, but it’s all about the uncertainty, and uncertainty has been the theme of the current Congress and administration. Thousands of pages of invasive law creating new bureaucracies to impose unwritten regulations. Those with resources, in other words, have reason to hold their breath.
The Gulf spill is another big item, today:
The generally accepted view of the Deepwater Horizon disaster has focused on the blowout preventer and the non-standard procedures BP conducted just before the explosion and fire. However, most of the damage and the main source of the spill came from the collapse and sinking of the DH platform rather than the initial explosion. A new report by the Center for Public Integrity, based on testimony from people on scene and Coast Guard logs, contains evidence that the platform sunk because of a botched response from the Coast Guard, which failed to coordinate firefighting efforts and to get the proper resources to fight the fire.
And the controversy will continue. Of course, now that BP has promised its billions in aid and the investigations into the incident pick up steam, we hear this:
Yes, the spill killed birds — but so far, less than 1% of the number killed by the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska 21 years ago. Yes, we’ve heard horror stories about oiled dolphins — but so far, wildlife-response teams have collected only three visibly oiled carcasses of mammals. Yes, the spill prompted harsh restrictions on fishing and shrimping, but so far, the region’s fish and shrimp have tested clean, and the restrictions are gradually being lifted. And yes, scientists have warned that the oil could accelerate the destruction of Louisiana’s disintegrating coastal marshes — a real slow-motion ecological calamity — but so far, assessment teams have found only about 350 acres of oiled marshes, when Louisiana was already losing about 15,000 acres of wetlands every year.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what to believe, when the issue isn’t right there in front of you. Another argument, I’d suggest, for small, decentralized government.
Now back to my personal preoccupations…