Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency because of the oil continuing to spill from one of the pipelines that was connected to the Deepwater Horizon rig before it exploded, caught fire, and sank into waters more than a mile deep. The resulting slick, already more than a hundred miles long and forty miles wide, is predicted to dwarf the spill from the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska that happened more than two decades ago. There are already reports that the oil is starting to collect on the shores at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
President Barack Obama has vowed to use every resource available including the military. The Obama administration has assembled top officials from Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency and announced an aggressive effort to fight the spill.
Mr. Jindal has requested federal assistance for the Louisiana state fishermen, asking the Secretary of Commerce to declare a commercial fisheries failure in order to clear the way for the fisherman to receive something akin to welfare. This is the same Bobby Jindal who became the primary proof that the Republican Party was all inclusive and not just a white boy’s and girl’s club. Mr. Jindal was selected to give the Republican Party’s response to Mr. Obama’s first congressional address. In his response, Mr. Jindal criticized Mr. Obama saying that the proper role of the federal government was not to become larger. Mr. Jindal stressed that the federal government should refrain from unnecessary spending. As an example, Mr. Jindal ridiculed the government for spending precious federal dollars on the study of volcanoes. Why do people in Louisiana need to help contribute for the preparation of a disaster elsewhere?
Today Mr. Jindal is displaying a full reversal. As arguably the greatest oil spill starts to poison Louisiana’s fragile ecosystem along the gulf, Mr. Jindal wants help from the same federal government he ridiculed just a year ago as out of touch with good national fiscal responsibility.
Now that Mr. Jindal needs help for his state, he understands the importance of having a government in a position to help. Gone is all that talk about independence for the people and all those dumb ideas about how government should not be in people’s way. Mr. Jindal wants to take advantage of a government that stands capable to help any state despite the fact. There are a bunch of people in others states that could say why should people outside Louisiana care about Louisiana’s coast? Thankfully, a lot of people understand the concept of government, which is nothing but a collection of people, coming to the aid of our own.
Mr. Jindal’s behavior is similar to the behavior exhibited by many conservatives who suddenly find their feet in other people’s shoes. People who previously spent their lives admonishing others for accepting welfare would have a different opinion when they find themselves in need of help because of circumstances beyond their control. There are people who will proudly wave around signs telling the government not to expand healthcare coverage and to keep its hands off of their Medicare. Some people are too quick to say that we don’t need to help anybody when they have all of the security they could want. But as soon as they lose their job and have exhausted their resources and have used every bootstrap they could find to no avail, people have a totally different understanding of what it means to be in need and why it is so important to have people who have a more inclusive sense of social responsibility.
There is little doubt that if the oil spill happened elsewhere, say it happened in the Pacific off the coast of California, Mr. Jindal would be singing a totally different, compassionless tune. More than likely he would continue the staunchly conservative stand where people believe that our federal government shouldn’t be a government for the people. If it was California that was in trouble, Mr. Jindal would probably do another one of his too bad so sad speeches, but the government of the people, by the people, and for the people isn’t meant to save anybody.
The question is that now that Mr. Jindal knows first hand what it feels like to be in need and have no choice but to rely on the federal government for assistance, you would think that he would have more compassion for people who are less fortunate. But then again, people who lead our governments, whether they be at the local, state, national, global, or anything in-between, above, or below any one of these levels, should come with the foresight and compassion necessary to think about things from a more socially responsible perspective. A state governor should already come prepackaged with a heightened sense of consideration for others.