Posts Tagged ‘drill baby drill’

There are no stupid questions….or are there?

June 8, 2010

Most, if not all of us have heard the old saying, ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question’. I actually agree with that….for the most part. I believe we ask questions, because the answers to those questions, will  have some measurable impact on our lives, or, at the very least,  influence the action we take; ‘excuse me sir, what time is the next bus?’. Stuff like that. The answer to that question could determine whether you sit and wait for the next one, or, if you live where I live and the bus is the R12, whether you just give up and go home because it will be a long time before you see another one.You get my drift, the answer determines your course of action.

Up comes the Gulf oil spill; a very tragic event by anybody’s standards. It is very difficult not to feel the frustration the people on the Gulf Coast must be experiencing. Of course, everyone is trying to do as much as they can to help and no one is doing it fast enough. People have tons of questions, and as usual there are way more questions than answers. I just think that we could go a long way to bridging that gap by being a little more sensible in the questions we do ask. If there is a real benefit to be gained from the answer, (apart from better ratings or political points) then by all means, ask away, if not, then maybe you should leave it alone. We have seen thus far, an amazing capacity for sensationalism in the questions being asked without any real or apparent regard for the consequences of the actual tragedy.

One of the earliest questions; how much oil really is spewing out of the well?  This was, and still is, a really big sticking point. The argument for wanting to know the answer to that question goes something like, ‘well if we don’t know how much oil is coming out now, how would we know when any of the attempts to stop it have worked? Hmmm…well if we can’t figure out when something stopped leaking without first knowing the rate of the leak, then we are in way more trouble than anybody thought. The thing about this and other questions like it, is that they are being asked, apparently,  on behalf of the public at large and, especially , on behalf of those people in the affected areas. Personally, I am not interested in how much oil is spewing out. Besides, I, along with most other people, already know the answer……too much, way too much. A more pertinent question would be, ‘so when do you think  you’ll have this mess cleaned up by?’, or ‘why exactly did you modify the blowout preventer so that it could no longer, ummmm…prevent blowouts?’ The only people who are getting all rabid over the ‘how much’ question are those people who are peddling devices  to be able to measure, well… much. The rest of us just want it to stop, regardless of how much it is.

This past Sunday, Bill Nelson, the democratic senator from Florida was on Face the Nation. In an effort to show his constituents that he was ‘getting out in front of this thing’, he declared that he made a phone call and asked, according to him, ‘one simple question, how many boats you got?’. He apparently got widely varying responses to his ‘one simple question’. My thing is though, he’s pretty lucky he got any response. How about asking, ‘what can I do to help?’. Now there’s a question that has the potential to result in a net benefit for the people of Florida. But he didn’t ask that since they might actually find something for him to do and that would not sit too well with him.  Does he have a boat to contribute to the cause? Or perhaps, there is some magic number of boats that will make everything ok. How many boats you got……indeed.

By far  the best though is, ‘what do you mean by legitimate?’. That depends, what do YOU mean by legitimate? I am no BP lover, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist, (or in this case, an oil company executive), to see which way the wind is blowing. People will be crawling out of the woodwork, with all sorts of claims. Next thing you know they’re getting claims for birth defects in people born before Deep Water Horizon even existed. Personally, I think, in this litigious society it is bordering on silly to expect the company to say ‘yeah just bring it on, we’ll pay everything’, without some sort of qualifier. All of a sudden that executive’s words will become some sort of legal, binding, promise on the part of BP to pay everything that has the words ‘oil spill’ on it. It just amazes me that the question was asked in the first place and that it still has so much traction.

Each day I continue to look to the  Gulf for some good news. It seems as if the tide may be turning on this tragedy. I sure hope so. I do not, however, anticipate any decrease in, what I perceive to be, useless questions. After all, how else will the news media survive, and the politicians raise money, if not through the use of the tried and true stupid question?


Of polls and poles

April 4, 2010

As a general rule, the United Sates has four seasons……as a general rule. Living near Washington DC, however, I have to conclude that there are really only two seasons; election season and pre-election season (many people believe that there is also a post election season, but that is a myth and there is no reliable evidence that such a phenomenon exists). That being said, it is also a widely accepted fact that the latter is longer than the former and can last several years depending on where in the overall cycle you are. No matter the season though, there is a “fruit” that seems to thrive in any condition; the poll.

I’m not too sure when the first election poll took place, but polling in general has been around since the rock of ages was a pebble, (ever since the first cavemen were fielding ideas about how best to get that woolly mammoth). In recent times though, polling has taken up a greater significance in the nation’s politics.

Nothing is done unless politicians consult the polls, while at the same time declaring that they don’t care about polls. “We were put here to do a job, not listen to polls”. Yeah right!!! Some of them act as if their job IS listening to polls. You only get to make that statement though, depending on if the thing you’re trying to do is popular or not, determined, of course, by looking at the polls.

The thing about polls though is that I can’t figure out why people put so much stock in them. People who, in many cases, hold completely different positions on an issue, hold those positions based on what “our polls tell us”.

There seems to be a slight shift in DC at the moment though. The party in power is hard pressed to find a poll to support their position so they are forced to do things the old-fashioned way, go straight to the people you represent and try to convince them that they have their best interest at heart. The party not in power, however, can still find polls in abundance. There is a shift here also, in that the polls they are finding are telling them to just sit back, do absolutely nothing, and get paid…talk about a dream job.

Come to think about, these are probably the same polls another political party in another country used to look at some years ago. In that case though, the polls didn’t tell them to sit back, they said walk out, do absolutely nothing, and get paid. (You En See dey mad?). To be fair though, (because I am nothing if not fair)the weather in DC is only just getting nice enough for walking so maybe we’ll see a slight change in the response to polls.

I suppose it’s not unreasonable to rely on polls though. After all, the people who design them have gone to great lengths to make sure that we, (the polled) believe that it makes sense to talk to 6 people and determine from that, what 500 people think. It has been accepted for some time now that “representative sampling” is the way to go and obviously nobody is willing to stand up and say differently, maybe the polls have not been swinging in that direction as yet.

Speaking of polls and swinging…..the party not in power seems to be taking a different approach to the whole polling thing. Just recently we started hearing news about how they’ve been spending the money that “the polled” have been sending to them. Apparently, they’ve been using (I need to change the tense here, since we do not know that this is an ongoing thing) so, let’s do this again. Apparently they’ve used some of the money for “meals” at a “risque” establishment in West Hollywood. Well if these are the “poles” they’ve been consulting, the whole “just sit back” thing is beginning to make sense now. Hmmm…….I wonder what Drill baby drill really means.

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