Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Different Gulf

Matt Yglesias poses a fair-sounding question in light of ongoing calamities:

How often in recent years have we been plagued by this problem? Not black swans out of nowhere, but merely the recurrence of somewhat unlikely events that just haven’t happened for a while. A big hurricane hits New Orleands [sic], a leveraged bubble bursts, a drilling operation goes badly awry. And unfortunately both the business world and the government world seem equally incapable of grasping the fact that “unlikely to happen on any given day” and “will never happen” are totally different things.
"Incapable" is beside the point. The gulf between political viability (e.g., legal limits on offshore drilling whose failures can't be contained by current technical means) and business viability (e.g., offshore drilling as deep as can be technically achieved) is now filling the Gulf of Mexico with oil.

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