THE GULF AND THE SPILL

I am an avid fisherman. I fish most often with my father and have been lucky enough to fish with him in a number of exotic locations. However, no matter how far we travel we continue to find that nothing beats fishing in Louisiana. From Port Fourchon to Cocodrie, we have experienced the greatest fishing in the world. So it was with great interest that I recently read an article in the Smithsonian Magazine titled “Breaking Down Myths and Misconceptions About the Gulf Oil Spill” which was written by Hannah Waters. This article gives me hope that sport fishing in the Gulf has rebounded from the spill and that it will continue to be some of the best fishing in the world. Louisiana fisherman At the beginning of the article, Ms. Waters asks the question “does oil stick around indefinitely.” My initial reaction to the question was “of course it does.” However, that was apparently the wrong answer. In fact, oil is “readily degraded” and the Gulf is full of oil-eating bacteria. These oil-eating bacteria started breaking down the oil from the spill immediately after the eruption. Therefore, and at least according to this article, most of the oil that remained in the ocean has been broken down. But that does not mean that there are no problems. Ms. Waters does point out that the oil that worked its way into the marshes is not broken down as rapidly and still poses an environmental threat. The second question, Ms. Winters addressed was whether ingested oil would pass up the food chain. While she does not give a clear “yes”...

CHANGING THE RULES

We came across this interesting Washington Post article yesterday that illustrates some of the problems with our bloated federal bureaucracy. The story starts with Congress lifting the 10 year statute of limitation applicable to the Government’s right to pursue old debts. As a result, the US Treasury Department and other agencies are now able to go back forever to pursue old debts. State of the Union While we are troubled at our Government retroactively changing the rules, in our view that is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only did this change allow the government to go back and attempt to collect old debts, but it expanded the number of potential people responsible for that debt. In one collection action discussed in the article, 58 year old Mary Grice had her tax refund seized without notice. The Social Security Administration claimed that back in 1977 it overpaid someone in the Grice Family. In 1977, Mary Grice was 4 years old and her father had died leaving her mother with five children. Until the children were 18, the government paid them Social Security survivor benefits. Although the Social Security Administration today can’t actually prove who received the over-payment, it still seized Mrs. Grice’s refund. The Social Security Administration has taken the position that the money can be recovered from anyone in the family who “indirectly” received any benefit or assistance from public dollars. Another concern with this process is the fact that the Social Security Administration is using a private contractor to handle the collection efforts. This is likely to create perverse enforcement incentives. Also not surprising is the...