By Ryan Gorham, State Policy Network Leadership Development Intern and former JMI Intern
Hundreds have been flocking to Panhandle beaches for photo-ops and a good wagging of their finger. Not the tourism Florida was looking for, but this is the sight that has graced our beaches recently.  As politicians and bureaucrats have postured and focused on oil-laden waters, Florida is suffering unintended costs. The damage has been done, as the news cycle feeds the Nation images of tar-covered beaches with posing politicians–tourism numbers are projected to plummet.May numbers were up (pre-impact), but conservative estimates put the future impact at a 10 percent decline in Gulf Coast tourism ($2.2 billion). Our beaches lay largely undamaged, while governments are trying to mitigate the devastation to local economies by spending money on promotion. However, the season for tourism is half-over, and due to the extensive coverage the disaster has received, numbers are down.Politicians have focused on halting productivity, creating convoluted paper trails, establishing committees, and squelching innovative solutions. This is not a cleanup that the federal government should orchestrate. Once capped, the cause should be thoroughly investigated, but until then, government should stop their jockeying and focus instead on moving forward.In an ideal situation, the focus would be on plugging the predicament and cleaning up the consequences. Involvement in this issue should first revolve around aiding the affected areas, not leaving them lying lifeless in their path while rushing to string up the guilty party.