This country is supposed to be about laws being evenly applied, no matter who you are. No one's supposed to be able to get away with a crime based on their connections. That kind of favoritism is how they do things overseas; that's not how we're supposed to do business here.
But more and more we're starting to do things like they do overseas; special connections with the government mean special treatment by the law makers and the law enforcers. Banks that aren't supposed to get TARP money get it anyway because they know the right politicians. And now it looks like oil companies that have greased the right palms weren't being properly scrutinized by inspectors.
This is why the interweaving of politics and business is bad for our nation. The more businesses work with the government, the more they become a part of the government.
And when regulators are watching over their friends and associates, the more the regulators and enforcers turn a blind eye and let things slip until they become disasters. That's how Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) got away with so much mischief over the years and eventually exploded in the subprime mess. Their friends let them get away with murder.
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And all this is perfectly related to the oil mess in the Gulf. BP (BP) has a lot of political connections. It's milked those connections over the years to get the biggest bang with the least amount of interference. Even after the Deepwater Horizon blew up in the Gulf, BP may have been relying on its connections to avoid the kind of criminal investigation that probably should have begun immediately, particularly considering BP’s lousy track record on safety.
Attorney General Eric Holder was down in the Gulf this week trying to act tough, but Scoreboard thinks the time to get tough with BP was right at the beginning. Instead, the Obama administration left too much in the hands of BP, perhaps because it feared getting its own hands dirty if things got worse. Well, things have gotten worse, a lot worse, and the administration's strategy has blown up in its face.
They will pay the political consequences. But our nation should not be forced to pay the consequences for an administration that still seems to be holding back from an all out assault on the spill and on the company that's responsible.