Friday, June 18, 2010

Oil, 2

daddywhumpus is mad, like a lot of people. Mad about the environmental and economic devastation in the Gulf caused by the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Mad about what seems to be an entirely bungled effort at stopping and containing the spill. Mad about the political response. Mad about what appears to be an example of gross corporate negligence on the part of British Petroleum. He, like many others, wants BP to be fined out of existence by the US government.

I agree with the sentiments, and the public has a right to be angry. BP has made this mess, and they are responsible for it. It's going to cost the global economy/US economy on many levels, and it's hard to assess what the long-term effects will be. It's frustrating that a corporation has to be strong-armed into taking responsibility, and it's even more frustrating for certain politicians and political movements to be barking at the federal government and not the corporation, when they espouse "personal responsibility" in other things--when it suits them.

If I made this kid of mess, you can be damn sure I would be expected to clean it up. You could also assume that the clean-up might break me financially, and I might then have to fall back on the government for help. It depends on my available resources. British Petroleum recorded profits in FY09 of 16 billion, 759 million, according to their annual report, and 21b 666m/21b 169m in the preceding two years. 20 billion in an escrow account is, in this sense, hardly a "shakedown" or a "fleecing" as Reps. Barton and Bachmann called it yesterday.

BP needs to pay for clean-up and fall out, and, of course, in the end, those expenses will be passed on to the consumer, if at all possible. 20 billion is not just absorbed by for-profit corporations. They might tighten their belt elsewhere in their ledgers, but, unlike private citizens, who usually have to find extra funds by cutting expenses or getting second jobs, corporations have the option to charge their customers more in order to raise revenue.

But remember, your local BP gas station owners didn't cause this spill, either. Boycotting them won't help your local economy.

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