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Oil. Law. Hammer.

Posted by Simon on June 2, 2010

I’m not saying President Barack Obama is wrong. And, frankly, no-one knows exactly the details of the cause yet, which is why a full investigation is warranted. But here is from an email from the White House that I received today.

If the laws on our books are insufficient to prevent such a spill, the laws must change. If oversight was inadequate to enforce these laws, oversight has to be reformed. If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region.

I’m just concerned that the only response to preventing this happening again, the only measure of ‘accountability’, seems to be THE LAW. It’s a problem because the more globally interconnected but relationally distant we are, and the bigger the corporations or any organizations are, the greater the chance that any benign act (i.e. the person isn’t being malicious, they may be just tired, or forgot to check the box; and who hasn’t done that?) could cause catastrophe. “Oh, did I hit the wrong red button? I thought I was ordering pizza?”. And what, we’re just going to create one law after another after to prevent every human error?

Like I say, the law maybe exactly what’s required here given the catastrophic nature of the mistake. But it shouldn’t be the only and first response. There are other tools in our human self-organizational toolbox than the hammer of the Law.

I wrestled with this in a previous post in with respect to relational distance in the context of the Wall St derivatives market that caused the mortgage crisis. Then yesterday I proposed that authority/structure (law?) enables freedom. So really I don’t know what to think!


Posted in Freedom/Authority, Law | 7 Comments »

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