Friday, May 21, 2010

Poll: Who should be in charge of clean up?

Under the headline Month after oil spill, why is BP still in charge?, AP writer Matthew Daly writes:
Days after the Gulf Coast oil spill, the Obama administration pledged to keep its "boot on the throat" of BP to make sure the company did all it could to cap the gushing leak and clean up the spill.

But a month after the April 20 explosion, anger is growing about why BP PLC is still in charge of the response.

[...]"The government should have stepped in and not just taken BP's word," declared Wayne Stone of Marathon, Fla., an avid diver who worries about the spill's effect on the ecosystem.
With such a strong introduction, one would expect the tone of the article to be that BP has blundered again and again since the spill, delaying cleanup efforts. Yet, here's what the article goes on to say:
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was even more emphatic.

"There's nothing that we think can and should be done that isn't being done. Nothing," Gibbs said Friday during a lengthy, often testy exchange with reporters about the response to the oil disaster.

There are no powers of intervention that the federal government has available but has opted not to use, Gibbs said.

Asked if President Barack Obama had confidence in BP, Gibbs said only: "We are continuing to push BP to do everything that they can."

All of this makes me wonder why people have an impulse to ask for the government to intervene in times like these. Is there some comparative advantage that the government has? Should we expect that the clean up is going to be done better by a bureaucracy rather than a profit-seeking corporation?

In a world of imperfectly-aligned incentives, we can't trust the profit-maximizing company to do a thorough job. On the other hand, government bureaucracy is a world of imperfectly-aligned incentives in itself. That brings me to the poll question of the week.

Who should be in charge of the Gulf oil spill clean up?

(a) BP. The market will discipline them.
(b) The government.
(c) The government and BP should work together

As with every week, the poll is open for a week. So, vote early and often (on the sidebar-->). Tell your friends to vote. I'm interested in hearing what you have to say.

1 comment:

  1. Out of 40 votes:

    20 said BP
    10 said The Government
    6 said both
    4 said neither


Please feel free to share your ideas about this post in the open forum. Be mindful that comments in this blog are moderated. Please keep your comments respectful and on point.