BP, The Release Forms and Show Me The Money

Hoo Boy. All in one title. So in addition to the environmental debacle of the century, now we have to worry about BP going broke????? Based on their profits this seems laughable but… at least one industry observer has said that at the very least they may have to sell off profitable holdings at fire sale prices in order to meet their obligations.

So let’s talk about their obligations. A few of the earliest stories, before the endless failed attempts to stop the flow of oil took the front and center, were about the people who were hurt or killed in the initial explosion of the rig. And what emerged from those stories was that people who were hurting, exhausted and focused only on contacting their loved ones to let them know they were alive were pressured into signing release forms regarding their ultimate right to recompense from BP for their injuries. At the time they signed these they didn’t even know, many of them, what their injuries were. They were distraught, their families were distraught and BP took advantage of them, pure and simple.

So this is atrocious in and of itself, but what is the lesson? Corporate role modeling in the last few years has been abysmal. Enron, corporate greed, wall street, stock and banking greed, mortgage banking greed and the complete collapse of the economy have all taken a main place in our daily news. The economy is “improving” but true jobs and especially real estate prices are not. They will be a long time coming at least in some parts of the country (like where I live). The lessons apparent are every person for themselves, the hell with the planet, the injured and the working folk; get what you can and screw the rest.

I think we are too litigious in this country by far these days. I think that there is an attorney to take every stupid claim and make it law. But I believe deeply that our judicial system can be an instrument for good, can be an instrument for change. I deeply hope that some “do-gooder” lawyers take up the case of those poor oilmen, tired, hurt and afraid, who signed those disgraceful releases. I wish I could be one of them.

My generation was idealistic, we thought we could change the world and to some degree we did. So what happened? I guess I retain some of that idealism, although I don’t think sometimes that I have adequately passed it on to my son. Isn’t it better to model an idealistic failure than a narcissistic success?

Oyster Po’ Boys? Not for a While ~

New Orleans facing yet another crisis as the BP oil spill continues to worsen with no solution in sight.

Today they finally showed pictures of what might really be happening in the Gulf.  It is sickening to see.  It is sickening to begin to understand the devastation that is happening and will continue to happen in the gulf.  The extent of the environmental disaster almost can’t be imagined.  What will happen to fish, birds and other creatures is almost unimaginable and the consequences to the planet vast and long lasting.  Add to that the devastating consequences this disaster will have on the economy of a region already struggling desperately to recover from the hurricanes of the last six years and you realize that this is a disaster of much broader reach than we might have thought.

The oil company that brought this about, and the regulators that failed to do their jobs, bear a very grave responsibility.  Unfortunately, despite all their assurances that they were prepared for disaster, they clearly were not.  The very little they have tried has failed; and until today they simply lied about the extent of what was happening.  But today the grim underwater pictures of thousands of crude pumping into the water couldn’t be disguised or excused. 

So having faced the reality that BP is simply unprepared and incapable of fixing this, and leaving aside the question of how to handle the future, why isn’t the government stepping up?  We all know that BP is “responsible”, read financially.  Who cares right now? All that matters it that it is stopped, fixed, contained.  The Army Corps of Engineers is supposed to know how to fix everything; there are scientists and technicians all over the globe working on this kind of project.  Why can’t they all talk to each other?  Why can’t the fixers and solvers get together and find fix or solution?   We know BP can’t by themselves.  So what are we waiting for?  The end of the world?