Monday, June 21, 2010

Lesser of Two Evils

Whenever I write any post concerning the gulf oil spill, the beginning of that post always includes a disclaimer that anything that follows is not an approval of BP, or a mitigation of fault, or a plea to understand.  This post, of course, will be no different.

But the reality (unlike the pic to the right) is that I shouldn't even have to be writing these posts in the first place.  In fact, the sheer number of people out there that see BP as an obscenity right now is way too damned large for a thinking population.  Which tells me that either too many people are not using their brains (which explains the 2008 election), or too many people have been inculcated with the idea that corporations are inherently evil and in control of everything (thus, the pic at the right).

So I'm going to talk corporations in general.  This does not preclude some evil bastards who really don't give a shit and would sell broken glass with chipping lead paint on it as a fill-in substance for toddler playgrounds if it would increase their profits.  But those are the exceptions.  And BP, like every other corporation, is made up of people who, in general, care about getting this oil spill mess cleaned up as quickly as reasonably possible.  And that's both for PR/profit reasons (because a big hole gushing oil all over birds and killing jobs really has no benefits), and because people generally don't like to watch people and animals suffering (except maybe people who regularly watch network pseudo-reality).

The fact is that most corporations rely on voluntary transactions to earn profits (unlike the above pic).  That means a big enough PR disaster can result in bankruptcy, and possibly the death of that corporation itself.  And if that happens due to lawsuits over this mess, it'll suck for thousands of employees and shareholders (the majority being people who might end up on the government dole if their retirement collapses).  But that's the down side of capitalism.

So unless you can cite how BP will benefit from the continuation of this oil spill, harping on them as the big bad in this situation is both pointless and stupid.  And inaccurate.

(On a semi-related side note, to find the above picture, I Googled "bp oil spill evil" and did an image search.  Of the first 8 pictures, 2 were of Dick Cheney?  WTF?!?!?!?!  Seriously.  )

So if the Wildlife of the Gulf, the people of the Gulf, and the corporations drilling in the Gulf don't benefit in the least from this disaster, can we think of anyone who does.

If someone took advantage of the situation to blame the people responsible for the accident for everything that happened after (even when it was out of their control) to deflect any of their failings, would that be the greater evil?

If they took advantage of ecological damage to push through something that is, at best, marginally related to the disaster because the only way to cram it through would be to bullshit the population into supporting it, would that be the greater evil.

If they also used the justifiable anger of the people and the threats of even worse legislation and PR attacks (with the police power of the gun) to extort money, would that be the greater evil?

And (speculatively) if they let the disaster unfold because they knew they could blame someone else, pass crap legislation, and extort cash, would there be no question which of the two (BP or the Imperial Federal Government) which is the greater evil?

Now I do label the last paragraph as speculative because it is.  I can't say that Obama administration let things become a disaster for political gain.  But we are dealing with an administration who has open hostility toward corporate America and the capitalist system, as well as stated intentions to cripple fossil fuels and the tendency to try to control every faced of the economy he can get his claws on.  And government has police power to take whatever the hell they want.  While that is a necessary evil, in the hands of the unscrupulous, it becomes a threat to our freedom.

So between a corporation who can be run out of business by the people through the rule of law, and the government who can adjust that law to serve their own ends, their own power, and can force or coerce us to their way of thinking by the carrot or by the stick, I'll always trust the corporation, whose survival is never certain.


James Manning said...

I don't think anyone benefits from this disaster even those who make the argument that we should pursue alternative energy. The issue is that BP was negligent in their operations and the government was negligent in its oversight. But this is the system we voted for. There were those who argued that companies did not need regulations because they would do what was right because it was in their best interest. Who would purposely place this gulf in this situation? No one would except when you make the calculation that a spill of this magnitude is not possible. Then set out to cut corners on industry best practices to save money.

Now that we know a spill is possible, people argue that it can't happen if you follow "such and such" standards. But we shouldn't make those standards the rule. Thus allowing them the "Freedom" to deviate from those standards when circumstances warrant (i.e. cost overruns).

Patrick M said...

I'll agree that no major party in this (except enviro-kooks who want to kill oil drilling) really has benefited, including the Obama administration, especially as the examples of their failure to act decisively have come to light.

But there's a big difference. No one is arguing BP is not responsible for the mess. But the problem is that plenty of people want to lynch BP and think the government is mostly faultless. In fact, the problem is that there are far too many people that assume all corporations are, by default, evil, when that "evil" can't exist without complicity by government in every sense.

Actually, I've already written the next post that addresses this, after a messenger back and forth on the subject. In fact, I'm listening to the radio right now, and some idiot espousing just that.

Jerry Critter said...

While "evil" may be a bit extreme, the fact remains that BP did not follow all the regulations, and the government was complicit in the lack of regulation which could have prevented the accident.

The problem is not that everybody thinks corporations are evil. The problem is that people believed that corporations are responsible and will regulate themselves. Most probably will, but BP has proven over and over again that they will not.

The trick is to find a balance where good corporations can do their business with a minimum of government interference and the BPs of the world have their feet held to the fire to keep them for destroying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of those in their line of fire.

Toad734 said...

Wait, the pictures of Cheney surprised you? Guess who drilled that well? Guess who pushed through the energy bill exempting Halliburton and extraction companies such as this from EPA laws??

And I like how you just assume a corporation like this isn't evil until proven otherwise. It's not to say they are but why would you assume a bunch of rich white guys in the dirty, profitable, corrupt oil business have gotten there without fucking someone?