Monday, June 21, 2010


Please note: Due to the fact that Bethie is a counselor at Bible Camp this week, Tim kindly placed her on his brand new i-Pad so she could be part of our family birthday photo.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reflections on the Oil Spill

In 1987, there was a big rain storm in Minnesota in July. On the 20th, we received 9 inches of rain. Then, three days later, on the 23rd, 11 inches fell on the already saturated ground.

We remember this day for several reasons. The fun reason was that we had a party at our house that night because Terry's brother Ken was visiting. No one could leave, so we had 15 or 20 unexpected overnight guests! "Here's a pillow, you get the couch." "Here's a sleeping bag, you're on the floor."

It was a fun memory, until Ken got up off the couch in the basement in the morning and his feet went "squish, squish". Then it turned into lots of work and cost us a few bucks. We sucked up water, we removed destroyed carpet.

We thought about what we had to do to solve the immediate problem and prevent a future problem.

A few weeks later, another storm hit. It wasn't as bad, but the water had found a way to come in through the foundation and Terry and I spent the night on the couch in the basement with the wet vac all night taking turns getting up every 20 minutes sucking up the water.

So what does this have to do with oil? A lot, I say.

Our water problem had several aspects. The immediate one was sucking up the water as it entered our house. We really couldn't control the flow of it in our house since we can't control the rain. All we could do was try our hardest to minimize the damage till the water flow stopped.

Solving the problem was an issue of managing it. It was an issue of looking at the problem and prioritizing the solutions. It was an executive issue.

We knew we had to wait for the rain to stop before our problem would end, but we didn't just sit there. We used the wet vac. It was exhausting work, but was something we could do, so we did it.

A few weeks later, we made a plan. We called up the nice people who do basement water-proofing and they came in with jack hammers and chiseled out around the perimeter inside our basement, put in drainage tile and a sump pump.

Now back to the oil problem. The leak is kind of like the rain. Rain is generally good and necessary, but not when it is out of control. Oil is also good and necessary, but not when it is out of control. Right now, the leak can't be stopped. I'm sure no one wants that leak stopped more than BP. They have the most incentive and they know more about oil, they need to work on this.

In the meantime, oil from the spill is invading our country. The role of the President is "to preserve, protect, and defend" the United States. I have no idea why he didn't "stay up all night with the wet vac", so to speak. It would have prevented a lot of damage.

Passing laws, increasing taxes, stopping drilling on land or in shallower water is not helping this situation. The hole needs to be plugged, the mess needs to be cleaned up. Laws and taxes are more like putting in a sump pump. You have to get the water out of your basement before you move on.

My theory is that this is a case where some executive experience, rather than legislative experience, would have been a big help. In the meantime, all of us who love vacationing on the Gulf hope the clean up goes well and the hole gets plugged really soon.