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Does Oil Drilling = More Jobs?

     In 2007, the Washington Post convinced a world-renowned violinist named Joshua Bell, to act as a street musician during morning “walking work traffic” (about 7:50 am). How many people would stop and listen. A tip cup was placed, to see how many would donate money. The article shows the result or watch the condensed  video here, to see what happened. 

     Bell looks a bit like Donnie Osmond, according to the Post reporter. He first began to play Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Partita in D minor for solo violin”. He was playing on a 3.5 million dollar Stradivari violin. It was purposely a study in humanity.

     The previous week, Bell had played to packed audiences, to seats that had cost hundreds of dollars. After this little “Post study”, he was headed for more concerts in various countries.

     The video shows that some people did stop momentarily. Most of the over 1000 people that walked by, gave him little notice. In a span of about 45 minutes, his “donation cup” collected a total of $32.17.  As the author of the article states, “If a great musician plays music, and no one hears it, was he really any good.”.

     The reporter of the story “Pearls Before Breakfast”, won a Pulitzer prize for the article. It was concluded that  the crowd of people didn’t appreciate the artist and music. 

     Maybe if someone had just announced the greatness of the musician; the expense of the violin or the music being played. Maybe then, the passersby would have known to stop and appreciate. Did it prove that people really base their opinions on what everyone else thinks? Are we really so reliant on the “herd mentality” that we have difficulty forming our own opinion? Are we really too busy with our daily lives to notice what is going on around us?

     This past week, I received a mass email from a candidate, running for the US Senate. Twice in the email, he pointed out that Washington was keeping us from Drilling for Oil, and that such policy was costing jobs for America.  

     This past week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing titled “Making the Gulf Coast Whole Again: Assessing the Recovery Efforts of BP and the Obama Administration after the Oil Spill”.

     RockyKistner writes that the Republican Chairman of the House Committee, first called Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour as the lead witness. Haley was a former energy industry lobbyist. Filings show that his lobbying firm (Barbour, Griffith and Rogers) had received 2.96 million in lobbying fees (1999-2003) from the energy industry. 

     When Barbour was head of the Republican National Committee; during the 1994-96 election cycle, the oil and gas industry donated over 30 million to Republicans.  Oil and Gas interests have also donated millions to personal campaigns for Governor.

     Barbour told the House Committee that the issues regarding Oil drilling were economic, not environmental. He blamed the media, in his testimony, for making oil-coated wildlife look like “chocolate pelicans”. He emphatically told the House panel that all seafood testing, so far, has shown to be safe to eat, within the beaches of Mississippi.

     Barbour maintains that the massive Deep-water Gulf blowout was worth the risks, because of the benefits of the other 30,000 oil wells in the gulf. “The risk of 1 in 31,000 is worth taking when you are talking about something so important to the economy of the United States”.

     When Representative William Lacy Clay asked Barbour if Barbour’s view on drilling is a dangerous policy, Barbour replied that “the industry tries to prevent accidents and protect people because it’s expensive when they don’t” Barbour then went on to quickly add that “I’m against excessive regulation”.

     The last person to testify was Michael R. Bromwich, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. (BOEMRE) He pointed out that the bi-partisan commission that was studying the Oil spill, had concluded that there had been 79 serious loss of well control incidents in the Gulf, since 1996. That was the Commission that recommended slowing down and regulating our US drilling applications.

     In the coming days, we will hear more from politicians about the regulation of oil drilling versus the impact to our jobs,  if such drilling is not permitted off our US coasts. It seems to be argued along party lines. The question, I guess, is whether we get convinced that no matter the environmental cost, that it is too expensive not to drill for our future;  Or, are the jobs that are really being created, really within the area of environmental clean-up?

     Environmentalists are trying to win the argument of safety and beauty. The Oil Industryand their allies are  trying to win the argument of economics. Who will the herd follow or will we not take the time to really stop and listen?

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