The Gulf Spill Continues: Is Obama Powerless Against BP?

Discussion in 'Mindless Banter' started by Erik, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. Erik

    Erik Admin

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    After BP successfully placed a cap to divert some of the spewing oil into tankers, thousands of gallons continue to flow daily into the gulf. August is slated as the earliest date that any permanent solution may emerge. BP remains totally in charge of potentially the largest environmental disaster in the earth’s recorded history, a fact that proves — in “check mate” fashion — that corporations dominate the inner workings of the U.S. government, a truth previously revealed by the bank bailouts.

    More than one gigantic eco-system may be destroyed by BP, and the President of the U.S. is sadly reduced to lecturing in “serious tones,” with daily adjustments of tone based on the results of polling agencies.

    When the polls reported that Obama wasn’t taking the oil spill seriously enough, his next TV appearance depicted him as “outraged.” Yet his continuing lack of action doesn’t match his new, stronger emotions; nor does his inaction match the dire seriousness of the situation.

    Indeed, Obama continues to allow BP to lie about the seriousness of the spill, even when numerous independent scientists disputed BP’s estimates of the spillage. Of course Obama knew that BP had a profit incentive to lie, while Obama has his own incentive to allow the lie — and continued lies — of BP.

    One reason Obama doesn’t challenge BP is because he’s on their payroll. The news agency Reuters explains: “During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.” (May 5, 2010).

    In July, BP is set to give its shareholders multi-billion dollar dividends — prompting more toothless anger from Obama — while BP continues to maintain a healthy distance from taking complete accountability for the oil spill.

    The results are sadly predictable: many of the effects of the spill will be permanent, while the cleanup and recovery will go on for years and decades, possibly costing the extinction of some species and the United States billions and maybe trillions of dollars in the long term.

    BP will throw itself at the mercy of the courts, an elite entity much friendlier to the mega-corporations than to the millions of U.S.workers demanding justice. Add to the equation BP’s elite attorneys and you have an eventual settlement — after years — that will equal the tiniest fraction of the caused devastation. This prediction was all but confirmed by the mainstream media, when Curt Anderson of the Associated Press reported:

    “More than half of the federal judges in districts where the bulk of Gulf oil spill-related lawsuits are pending have financial connections to the oil and gas industry, complicating the task of finding judges without conflicts to hear the cases...” (June 6, 2010).

    Aside from the above financial blocks to holding BP accountable, there lays a deeper code of ethics that prohibit government interference into the matters of private corporations, no matter how great the damage done to the general public.

    At the top of this corporate code of ethics is the sacredness of property rights, meaning that large corporations have complete control — outside the grasp of any government — to do what they want with their giant wealth and facilities, wherever and whenever they want.

    To the U.S. government, this right pre-empts human rights, environmental rights, etc. Property rights are enshrined in every free-trade agreement the U.S. government signs, so that overseas corporate investments are strictly protected, prohibiting foreign nations from using U.S. corporate facilities for the social needs of their native populations. Although BP is a British corporation, the rules of this code are mutual and global.

    Nowadays, the tiniest crack in the foundation of corporate property rights constitutes “communism” — a right wing accusation hurled at Obama after he partially nationalized General Motors and other institutions in response to the economic crisis. And although Obama intruded into the sanctity of property rights when the financial crisis exploded, it was with the general consent of the corporate establishment — who viewed those actions as necessary, short-term evils — meant to save the investments of the rich, while using taxpayer money to rehabilitate the companies before they were eventually handed back to shareholders.

    The emergency in the Gulf of Mexico, on the other hand, is viewed by the corporate elite as a lesser crisis, demanding the government not set another precedent that would point to the necessity of public ownership.

    Obama’s unwillingness to push aside BP and take government charge of the operation makes him an accomplice to the environmental disaster. For example, in order that BP be allowed to remain at the helm, Obama has given them professional credibility where none should exist — “they have the expertise and technology,” etc. BP’s actions prior to the spill constitute criminal negligence. The comments of BP’s CEO since the spill undoubtedly prove that the company views the disaster as more of an inconvenience, to be handled at their leisure.

    Furthermore, every public appearance of a BP executive or spokesperson serves to minimize the crisis, implying that a less immediate reaction is required. Indeed, as a for-profit company, BP’s actions remain motivated by concern for their shareholders, whose only motivation is profit. In practice, this means fewer resources are dedicated to the spill than would be otherwise, since higher cleanup costs equal lower profits. One glaring example of this was cited in The New York Times, which quoted a scientist working for the Flow Rate Technical Group, a team of scientists trying to accurately gauge the flow of oil into the Gulf:

    “It’s apparent that BP is playing games with us, presumably under the advice of their legal team,” Dr. Leifer said. “It’s six weeks that it’s been dumping into the gulf, and still no measurements.” (June 7, 2010).

    Local government officials in Florida are also disgusted with BP’s lack of action in preventing the oil from landing on their beaches, while doing next to nothing in cleaning up the beached oil. The attorney general of Florida complained:

    “I’m outraged…why are we waiting so long to do this? Why is the Coast Guard, Obama, BP waiting? They’ve seen it coming, so why are we waiting?” (Bloomberg, June 7, 2010).

    Obama’s religious faith in BP to properly handle the spill — after it had no emergency plan to deal with such a spill in the first place — borders on lunacy. But the logic is sensible from the corporate prospective, which preaches that all is rational which protects profits.

    In a sane world, BP’s executives would be facing severe criminal charges, and the billions of profits they’ve earned in the last year would be confiscated to pay for the cleanup. BP’s infrastructure would be taken under the control of the U.S. government, which could ensure that the job was done correctly, timely, and publicly, as opposed to the shield of corporate secrecy currently protecting BP.

    The ultimate lesson of this environmental/economic catastrophe is that Obama is not at all serious about confronting corporate interests. Rather, he allows them to stampede over the public interests, ensuring that such disasters will happen again.
     
  2. Marie

    Marie FITS Lifestyle

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    Erik, where do you get this info at?
    thanks!
     
  3. mark

    mark Rockin' teh spandex!

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    What this article fails to mention is that Obama has the Corps of Engineers who are also advising on the spill, and every scenario also gets run past them. There's a lot of stuff going on that's impossible for the rest of us to comprehend, and unfortunately, the States doesn't have the technology and equipment to handle this issue. Not sure who does, actually. It's easy to say "why don't you do this or this or this" when what those people are suggesting would be akin to trying to kill a fly with a shotgun. You're going to end up doing more damage by the time you're done. BP has actually started hiring locals to help with the cleanup, so a lot of the guys whose fishing/tourist season is screwed at least have income and are able to pitch in on the efforts.

    Trust me, this whole thing really pisses me off. I'm from Ft Walton Beach, FL, and I'm sitting here watching on TV as my hometown gets fucked.
     
  4. char-dawg

    char-dawg Mr. Observant

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    Yes, because the government has done such a great job with other environmental disasters like Katri--

    Oh wait.

    I don't know who wrote that article, but it's obviously just another excuse to attack Obama on anything. I'm no Obama supporter, mind you. But anyone who seriously thinks that the government can do a better job cleaning the spill up than BP is an idiot.

    BP has the best reasons in the world to try to get the thing under control: public relations and all the money they're NOT making on the oil that just floats away instead of making it into barrels for sale. BP obviously knows more about oil than the government; it's their job. BP also has more than enough money to do whatever needs to be done. And, of course, all one has to do is look at any large-scale government initiative to see that they fuck it up more often than not.

    I challenge anyone to give even one example where the US government did something more efficiently and for less money than a large-scale, highly motivated company could have.
     
  5. Superwombat

    Superwombat Member

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    The IRS, i.e., the most powerful collections agency in the world. Also, national security/military ops, due in part to funds collected from....the IRS.
     
  6. char-dawg

    char-dawg Mr. Observant

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    So you think the military is more efficient than, say, Halliburton? Please. I take it you've never actually served in the military.

    I could give several examples, but one that immediately jumps to mind is the "rescue" of the hostages back in 1979-1980. The US military tried and failed - utterly - to get them out of Iran... lost 14 men and rescued exactly no one. Then Ross Perot got fed up and put together a small para-military outfit that pulled every one of his employees out of the prison where they were being kept.

    Ross Perot. One guy.

    If you have a counter-example, please give it.

    As for the IRS, what are you basing this on? Any private collections agency does more with less money, albeit on a smaller scale.

    But let me ask a slightly different question. Who do you want designing your software, the US govt. or Microsoft? Who do you want managing your money, the (bankrupt) US govt. or Warren Buffet?

    I hope the answer is obvious.
     
  7. Superwombat

    Superwombat Member

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    The answer is irrelevant because the US government is not in the business of designing software or managing money for investors, but it is in the business of national security and defense and revenue generation through taxation. This is not to say that the Dept of Defense and Treasury are 100% efficient or infallible. Let's try this question: would you be in favor of abolishing the DOD and the IRS right now and install Halliburton and whatever private collections agency you had in mind instead?
     
  8. char-dawg

    char-dawg Mr. Observant

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    The US government isn't in the business of plugging oil leaks either, which is really my point. Why should they take over responsibility for the spill?

    As for your question about the IRS, no, I prefer the inefficient entity to that which would be better at the job. As for the military, hmmm. Have to think about it for a while. But certainly I would prefer Halliburton for any sort of small, targeted operation. I don't recall them having any sort of Bay of Pigs incident.
     
  9. Superwombat

    Superwombat Member

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    Exactly.


    My point about the IRS is that there is no private collections agency that could successfully collect taxes from a citizenry of 300 million. So we're stuck with the IRS, warts and all. Everyone would prefer a leaner, more efficient and less costly agency, but that's not going to happen. As for the preference for Halliburton in matters like you mentioned, we're in agreement.
     
  10. synergyb3

    synergyb3 Well-Known Member

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    There's plenty of blame to go around but that won't solve anything in the big picture.

    I'm not sure that anyone anywhere has the technology to successfully stop the gusher. Even if it is stopped eventually, there is no recovery from the damage being done.

    My cousin, an environmental specialist has just been informed he is going to be sent to help decide what can/should be done to deal with this ecological catastrophe.
     
  11. mackie

    mackie With my hero, Brigitte Gabriel

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    [youtube]dRfVac0cjFw[/youtube]
     
  12. char-dawg

    char-dawg Mr. Observant

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    So we're in agreement here as well...

    Well, none exists at the moment. But it would certainly be possible to split the job among 50 smaller state agencies, each of which would likely be more efficient than the single nation entity, and from there break it down to municipalities, and once you're at that level there's no reason it couldn't be done privately.

    It's very difficult - if not impossible - to get an organization that has no profit motive to work as well as one that does depend on profit. And, of course, bigger means less efficient. After having thought about it for a couple of days, I can't come up with even a single example. The example of the IRS is somewhat non-germane, because there is (as you pointed out) no private counterpart. But let's not forget the original argument: the US govt vs. BP.
     
  13. RpH

    RpH I'm actually educated

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    This shouldn't be politicized, but Obama could have removed several barriers that were in place to allow more machinery and outside assistance. He also has no empathy, but that is just him. As stupid as this sounds, FEMA could do as good of a job as BP.
     
  14. Superwombat

    Superwombat Member

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    Your proposal re: the IRS is interesting. I'll think about it this week. But back to United States v. BP. It will be very interesting to see how the Office of Legal Counsel justifies the move by the President to force BP to create an escrow account for tort victims. I doubt John Yoo even had that kind of ingenuity.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/us/14spill.html?hp
     
  15. char-dawg

    char-dawg Mr. Observant

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    Reasoning?
     
  16. char-dawg

    char-dawg Mr. Observant

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    :shrug: Obama jumping on the latest thing to raise his sagging poll numbers. Doesn't surprise me, and honestly speaking I doubt that it will even require that much legal ingenuity, especially after he basically just ignored the law (and the sanctity of contracts) in the GM bond-holder thing.
     
  17. RpH

    RpH I'm actually educated

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    FEMA is the biggest group of f'ups ever, but BP hasn't done anything to get results in 2 months. Please tell me they had contingency plans.
     
  18. Superwombat

    Superwombat Member

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    I'm not sure he cares as much about poll numbers right now as he does about making sure citizens and companies injured by the spill are ultimately compensated for their losses. In regard to the escrow account, I don't know what law you are referencing when you mention GM or why it is relevant in this instance.
     
  19. Superwombat

    Superwombat Member

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    Even if FEMA could do a better job than BP, cleaning up the oil spill is outside the ambit of FEMA's statutory mandate. They only respond to major natural disasters. But I share what I think is your exasperation at the utterly stupefying incompetence on display the last two months.
     
  20. char-dawg

    char-dawg Mr. Observant

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    Obama (and, to be fair, every other President) has had it within his power to make increased safety precautions mandatory instead of optional. It wasn't on his agenda at all until this happened, so I'm a little skeptical about his motivations now.

    There's no direct legal relevance; I'm just saying that when the govt took over GM Obama made it very clear that the (unionized) auto workers who voted for him were going to get a reasonably large chunk of money out of the company (I think the union owns something like 17% of GM now, at virtually no cost to itself) while the people who had put up money to keep GM afloat via purchasing the company's bonds, and who legally were the primary lien-holders on any bankruptcy recovery, were more or less left out in the cold. They got a pittance compared to what they almost certainly would have gotten in any normal bankruptcy proceeding, whereas the union folks, who legally were entitled to almost nothing (like, say, regular stock holders) got quite a lot.

    So the general relevance is this: Obama completely ignored the law in GM's case; it's no great stretch to say that he'll ignore it with BP as well if it suits his purposes.
     

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