The standoff with Arizona and the never-ending BP disaster have spurred enmity between taxpayers, government, and businesses. Opportunism spurred by the discord will compel legislators to pass bills to give the appearance of action, and to appease special interests eager to seize the moment. Anger and outrage have already resulted in boycotts that disregard the issue of whom it is we are hurting when we blacklist businesses based on mistaken notions of culpability.
Cities and states hopping on the Arizona boycott train should pay attention to a Council of Economic Advisors’ warning of $300 billion in shortages for states and localities for the next two years.  Heedless, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa severed lucrative economic ties with Arizona, persuading Los Angeles to pursue a boycott that is threatening to go statewide. Despite California’s highest in the nation illegal immigrant population, and a budget shortfall estimated at $20 billion, former labor organizer Villaraigosa was instrumental in inserting language in recent Council of Mayors’ resolutions damning Arizona and pushing for amnesty for illegal immigrants.
On the opposite coast, Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY), a co-sponsor of the newest House immigration bill, stumped for a boycott of the Phoenix All-Star Game, claiming that “A boycott will send the unmistakable signal that people should not be arrested based on race or ethnicity.”  The truth is that Arizona will not be arresting anyone because of race or ethnicity. Law enforcement will have discretion to question immigration status only after another offense has been committed. A driver’s license – a prerequisite in all states for driving a car – is acceptable proof of citizenship.
Despite grassroots calls to ban BP, government demands to boycott the oil giant are nonexistent. Unlike their ceaseless pandering to immigrant pressure groups, legislators see no vote-getting potential in a BP boycott, wisely preferring to deflect attention away from their neglect of oversight, and their failure to ensure that past legislation does what taxpayers were promised it would do.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 limited oil company liability for spills to $75 million, and established an industry-financed trust fund to cover damages in excess of the liability limit. The following statements were made about the OPA by former Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) in 1999, presaging the catastrophe we are experiencing now while praising the 1990 bill:
Even with these concerns, and with the lingering disputes over the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill, it is important to remember one basic point: something good did, in fact, result from the 1989 spill.
There was so much that was negative about it, but the good thing that resulted was OPA.
It’s a good law, and it’s been successful in reducing spills and protecting the environment. Its continued success, I think, will depend on continued cooperation among all parties and vigorous oversight by Congress.
That’s one of the most important responsibilities we have, our oversight responsibility. Sometimes we’re so anxious to forge ahead and come up with new solutions to old problems that we ignore the solutions we have already advanced and we don’t take the time to see if they’re working as intended. 
As oil continues to cascade into the Gulf, the balance in the OPA trust is $1.5 billion. Cleanup costs for the Exxon Valdez spill, which was the excuse for passing the OPA, were estimated at $2.2 billion.  Both parties are manipulating the Gulf crisis for political leverage while ignoring their own lack of oversight, and failure to pass effective legislation in response to a spill that was unprecedented in 1989.
Instead of foolishly hastening the destruction of struggling states, localities, and businesses, our collective eye should focus on the failures of those we pay to craft and implement our laws. The Federal Government has failed to enforce immigration laws demanded, drafted, and approved by legislators, who have chosen to apply the “broken” label to the fruits of their own labor. As the Gulf oil slick widens, Washington will call for legislative solutions to a problem we were told was addressed twenty years ago in response to the Exxon Valdez spill.
Politicians have too easily persuaded us to turn on each other. We allow government-sponsored boycotts of Arizona while pursuing our own wrong-headed boycotts of gas station owners, all the while ignoring the real problems: federal, state, and local legislators.
1..Christina Romer. Treatment and Prevention: Ending the Great Recession and Ensuring that It Doesn’t Happen Again. City Club of Cleveland. Cleveland, Ohio, May 3, 2010
2..Press Release, May 13, 2010, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks’ Statement on Boycott of 2011 MLB All-Star Game.
3..Statement by former U.S. Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R – NY) Wednesday, March 24, 1999. U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, joint with the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Washington, D.C.
4..United States Government Accountability Office. Oil Spills. Cost of Major Spills May Impact Viability of Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. June 16, 2010. p. 21.