Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 30, 2010
POLITICS: The BP Shakedown

If you want to see a rank example of the unhealthy symbiosis between Big Government and Big Business, consider this morning's announcement by BP that "it will set up a $100 million charitable fund to support unemployed oil rig workers experiencing economic hardship due to the deepwater drilling moratorium imposed by the Obama administration."

At first glance, you might say, this is a good thing: a penitent corporation doing charity to help people harmed, at least indirectly, by its actions. But let's count the things wrong with this picture.

First, there is little doubt that BP is doing this, at least to some extent, due to explicit or implicit pressure from, or desire to buy off trouble from, the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats. It's the invisible foot of a government with a known propensity to monkey in the marketplace - companies learn to act defensively to cater to political favor rather than focusing on being profitable businesses by serving their customers.

Second, if BP was solely bowing to political pressure by assisting people it's harmed, that would be one thing. But what it's doing here is assisting people the Democrats have harmed, by a moratorium on offshore drilling by companies other than BP. In other words, the Democrats have used the leverage of fear of government to get BP to pay to cover up the damage caused by their own policies.

Third, consider this dynamic in the context of the vastness of BP (the company's size is the only reason it hasn't been run out of business by the spill). Other oil companies are big, too, but not everyone in the industry is on the same scale as BP, and equally able to buy off an angry government or weather the storm of the moratorium. This entire process of shaking down companies for political favor is designed with large corporations in mind - if you're a smaller business, you're not worth shaking down (or can't afford the extra burdens of unionized workforces and heavy regulatory obligations on top of paying off politicians) and can be left to whither on the vine as collateral damage of insane economic policy.

Fourth, OK, BP has helped the oil workers. What about other innocent parties? What about the retirees across Britain whose pensions are heavily funded by BP stock? What about consumers who are denied access to the oil? And even as to the workers - is it really a fair substitute to give working men charity instead of the opportunity and dignity of earning a living with their own hands?

Fifth, are we 100% certain that BP has adequate resources to pay everyone directly injured by the spill? Maybe we are, but one of the reasons to be skeptical of greenlighting a run-on-the-bank attitude towards wrongdoing corporations is that sometimes, in the stampede, there ends up not being enough money left for the people with the most legitimate claims (the long, sad story of asbestos litigation at times illustrated this).

We have seen this, over and over and over again under this Administration, in industry after industry: a combination of coercion and collusion that amounts to a protection racket run by Democratic politicians to grant favor on large, pliable corporations and their executives in exchange for money going where the Democrats want it - to Big Labor and other favored constituencies, to support for Democratic legislative priorities, to campaign cash and personal enrichment. It's fundamentally corrupt, and it needs to end.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:15 AM | Politics 2010 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

The other innocent parties are the "forgotten men".

Posted by: stan at July 30, 2010 2:24 PM

Well, I suppose we could go back to the days when the oil and gas industry had free reign of the White House to meet in secret and draft their own regulations.

What ever happened to that time-honored principle that, "if you break it, you buy it"? I guess that only applies to the "little people."

Do you have any idea how many leases in the Gulf are impacted directly by the moratorium? Fewer than 1% of the 3,600 oil and natural gas production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are covered directly.

Posted by: magrooder at July 30, 2010 4:07 PM

As I've said before, I have no problem with holding BP liable for actual damages caused by the spill, and for getting that paid out as swiftly and with as little litigation as possible.

But applying "if you break it, you buy it" here would suggest that the bill for the moratorium should be borne by the DNC, not BP.

BP obviously thinks the moratorium affects a significant number of workers or they wouldn't be reserving $100 million.

Posted by: Crank at July 30, 2010 4:11 PM

Almost there, Crank. Now say it out loud with the rest of us.
"I can't believe how stupid these corporations are. No wonder this country is going to shit. We should never trust them to do the correct thing."

Posted by: Berto at July 30, 2010 4:21 PM

Just when I think the Dems have their heads so far up their own butts that it might be time to listen to something else we get a nice fresh dose of RW logic to make me think that head-up-the-butt thinking is OK. A equals 5 regardless of what B or C equal or evn if they exist at all. Bravo.

Posted by: jim at July 30, 2010 4:53 PM

For those who have Blackberries you know that Alt 5 is 5 and aA 5 is D. Hit the Alt button by mistake.

Posted by: jim at July 30, 2010 4:56 PM

I'm fine with the Dems having a temporary moratorium on deepwater drilling only, including companies other than BP, until the gov't inspects and regulates. I wish they hadn't extended that to all offshore drilling.

As for the $100 mil charitable fund, that's BP's decision. They have a massive PR problem, and they also have an interest in making sure that the existing pool of oil labor isn't siphoned off to other industries because they can't make ends meet. If they want to help pay for the moratorium, that's fine with me.

If they are doing this solely out of fear of being regulated/forced to pay, then I don't have a problem with that. That's no reason not to regulate. As far as implicit/explicit threats from the democrats, I'm going to need some evidence.

Posted by: MVH at July 31, 2010 9:50 AM

Good points all, Crank.

Of course if the shareholders were in the USA, the dems would consider them 'The Rich' and as such would not be worthy of consideration.

My question is, where does it all end? How much can corporate America stand to be looted like this and at what point do corporate officers decide to resist?

As they are all members of The Ruling Class, perhaps the answer is "never'? Maybe at some point they write themselves a check for a golden parachute and flush the company down the tubes?

Posted by: feeblemind at July 31, 2010 5:49 PM

Please to be describing the looting of corporate America that does not involve corporations doing the looting. Let's see, in this specific instance, a single corporation through negligence, lack of foresight, planning and oversight commits the worst environmental disaster in the history of the world then continuously obfuscates, lies and covers their ass at every turn (to this very second still) and, knowing they are up a PR shit creek without a boat they begin forking over seemingly large amounts of money voluntarily. The money they are forking over is a pittance in comparison to their earnings. In what way is this being looted? Describe other corporations being "looted." Actually, just name one. Financial institutions? Hahahahahahaha! Car companies? (Too tired from laughing at the last one.) Who?

Posted by: jim at August 1, 2010 5:44 PM

jim,
There isn't enough water in all the oceans of earth that would be too much for conservatives to carry for corporations.

Posted by: Berto at August 1, 2010 8:20 PM

"Who is John Galt?"

Posted by: K at August 2, 2010 12:31 PM
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