Today’s post has no picture, because I couldn’t bear to look again at the images of the oil spill in the Gulf. Today’s post is also a book review — of sorts — because, although it might appear my interests are confined to bicycles and lighting, I am actually still interested in words and books.
One of Judt’s significant points — that we’re in a bad way because we have abandoned our belief in the idea that the government can actually perform functions that private enterprise cannot — is tragically and aptly illustrated by the BP oil spill. Every answer to the question how did this happen? leads to this answer: because we thought a private company like BP, acting with little public oversight, would keep our coastline safe. Paul Krugman is good on this subject too. (“We need politicians who believe in good government, because there are some jobs only the government can do.”)
It’s a short book, one that reviewers have pointed out reads like a great commencement speech. That’s not a criticism though. The book is rousing, intelligent, and uses the past to illuminate the present, which happens all too seldom. And, for me, it turned out to be just what was needed to fend off the despair that comes with tragedies like this oil spill.