Ben Stein's Diary

Oil of Today

A few thoughts on the oil spill from our Diarist.

By 5.28.10


I am so busy I cannot believe I am still alive. I feel as if this stress and fatigue should kill me if there were any sense in the world. Today, I had a recording of a commentary for CBS, then a mad rush out to Malibu for more photos for "Ben Stein's Los Angeles," a magazine feature I'm involved in. It was so beautiful in Malibu it was hard to believe. Just perfect. Really, truly perfect. Crisp, warm, breezy, rich blue sky. Just glorious.

But I had to rush right back to be on Larry King to talk about the oil spill with a Democrat congressman named Alan Grayson.

A few thoughts on the oil spill:

1. No one, obviously, is sorrier about it than the oil producer, BP, and the rig operator, Trans-Ocean. If the heads of those companies could go back in time and have it never happen, they would do anything to do so.

2. It was ambitious to operate in such deep water, with no safety net, but the world and the nation were clamoring for oil. The government said, "Go for it," and BP and Trans-Ocean went for it. Did they ignore warning signs that a giant event was bubbling below the surface? Maybe. If so, they will grievously answer for their ambition.

3. If mistakes were made, they were made by a few dozen people at BP and Trans-Ocean and a few bureaucrats. The energy business employs several million men and women. They have done nothing wrong at all. No point in blaming them for anything at all. They are just doing what we want them to do: getting us oil and gas. The stockholders of BP and Trans-Ocean have done nothing wrong. They had no clue what was going on under that drilling platform. It seems wrong to punish people who merely wanted to provide for their retirement for a seismic hydrocarbon event that may have been so drastic that it constitutes an act of God.

4. Finger pointing does no good whatsoever. No one wants to get this thing capped and stopped more than BP and Trans-Ocean. Let's encourage them and not distract and torment them. There will be plenty of time for lawsuits. What we need now is action on the seabed, and that is not a job for lawyers.

5. This is not Mr. Obama's fault. I am not a fan of his, but he isn't Superman. He cannot be expected to swim down to the leak and seal it with his Superpowers. If he's smart, he will be part of the effort to fix it, not part of the effort to drag out the tumbrils and guillotines.


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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.