The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious (DOPOTO) has had an easy time of it lately. Not that there has been a flood of good news or anything else so unusual, it’s just that the job of The Department is merely to point out the obvious, whether there is good news, bad news or neutral news. Our function is merely to point out the emperor’s new clothes.

The dominant story in the news lately, the massive oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, is for the most part a transparent and readily obvious tale, in little need of pointing out the obvious. Everybody with a marginally functional brain knows that this is a disaster of global proportions since the Gulf Stream circles the world and regulates Earth’s climate, that the executives at British Petroleum are a bunch of lying sacks of shit and that the United States Government is reaping the dubious rewards of a policy of deregulation started in the 1970’s.

The only shock about all this is that it comes as a shock to many people. Why? Everything described above is a matter of public record, with the slide into deregulation having already resulted in hundreds of serious economic scandals, culminating in the Economic Disaster of 2008, The Gulf Spill of Economics that saw $7 trillion in wealth and millions of jobs and retirement incomes disappear, and threw the housing market into the disarray of fraudulent practices, widespread foreclosures and property abandonment.

There are still many dangerous criminal cowboys disguised as bankers running roughshod (and unregulated) over the world’s money supply. In a world where every convenience store has a security camera trained on the cash register to prevent theft, the idea that the honor system was just fine when it comes to the people handling all the money in the world seems pretty foolish in retrospect. Since the Era of Deregulation began, the financial industries have attracted a small army of thieves, gamblers and con artists whose crimes have made history’s biggest bank heists nickel and dime affairs by comparison.

Similarly, oil companies are led no longer by self-made wild cat entrepreneurs, engineers and energy specialists, but by corporate thugs with no conscience. There are over 3,500 off-shore oil rigs operating off the coastlines of America, 3,000 in the Gulf of Mexico, each with the potential to blow and spew just like the BP rig. Every one of them operates almost regulation-free, and the only surprise about the BP Spill is that it didn’t happen sooner, in spite of the almost comic assurance of Big Oil press agents.

Few are fooled by the posturing of Big Oil executives or the politicians that are in their pocket. One picture of a greasy pelican trying to lift itself out of the black sludge that used to be the blue sea like some dinosaur in the La Brea Tar Pits puts the whole thing in its proper perspective. This could happen 3,000 more times in the Gulf of Mexico alone, never mind the rest of the world.

An obvious conclusion to be drawn here is that regulation is a fact of life for everybody everywhere. They are called laws and individuals are punished for breaking them, whether the charge is jaywalking or murder. The average person would be punished for putting raw garbage onto public streets or pumping their sewage into a river that supplies their town drinking water.

The head of the household would be held personally responsible and forced to clean up their act and make reparations to those they had harmed and/or face a jail sentence. They would not be permitted to blame their child or the family dog, or convince the town elders to clean up their mess. Then again, the average person has not spent billions corrupting the political process so that they don’t have to answer for their crimes, whether it’s stealing your money or polluting your children’s future.

One other obvious conclusion (our specialty!) to be drawn from all this is that there is no viable technology in existence to deal with catastrophic undersea oil spills. That was apparent the moment BP started to solicit high school students for ideas (We’re wide open!) on how to cap the well, and even tried stuffing it with (!) golf balls and garbage at one point. Rumor has it that they are even in secret negotiations with Vince the Sham Wow! guy to sop up the oil and wring it out into tanker ships.

That’s like Henry Ford deciding to install brakes and steering wheels in his cars only after selling thousands and thousands of them, something that should have occurred to him before letting all those people put the pedal to the metal. Building mechanized vehicles that can operate at high speeds, just like the feat of sucking that vehicle’s fuel from a mile below the ocean’s surface with giant machines, is very impressive technology, but not that impressive unless you can stop the damned things and operate them safely. Sometimes the obvious is the most elusive solution of all.

This was a report from The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious.

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