I’m sitting here at my desk watching the oil droids hack away at the blowout preventer in preparation for the “cap” portion of the “cut and cap” procedure, which, contrary to what I’m hearing on cable news, is intended to do something other than stopping the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, this latest solution isn’t a solution for stopping the flow of oil at all. The oil will continue to gush from the well, only now BP will be able to more effectively harvest some of the oil — a more reliable version of what they were doing with the riser insertion tube for the better part of last month.
Good for them. So they can resume drinking their milkshake between now and August when, we hope, the relief well will be completed. At which time, corporate milkshake drinking will carry on via more conventional methods.
And why not? It’s the free market after all. As I watch these robots slice the riser from the blowout preventer and read the news about lakes of oil moving towards the coasts of Florida, I’m wondering who to blame for this. The list is long, but, in part, I blame anyone who bought into the lines: “government is the problem” and “the era of big government is over.” It’s been systematic deregulation and the elevation of free market libertarian laissez-faire capitalism that have wrought this damage and allowed potentially destructive corporations to write their own rules and do as they please.
Does anyone seriously believe that BP has suddenly become a philanthropic venture interested in doing whatever it takes — sparing no expense — to make the Gulf region whole again? It will do the absolute minimum necessary to weasel its way through this crisis. Not a red cent more.
Last week, while the “top kill” procedure was failing, BP continued its effort to fight regulations in Canada mandating relief wells for every offshore rig. Simultaneously, Rayola Dougher, a lobbyist with the American Petroleum Institute laughed off the notion of requiring relief wells here in America.
Dougher said on MSNBC, “That would be — that would really make it unviable [sic]. I couldn’t even imagine such a suggestion.” A relief well costs around $100 million. That would cut into revenues and so — nope.
This is one of many reasons why Robert Reich’s plan makes sense at this point. Temporary receivership. Despite the political peril involved in such an endeavor, the government should take over BP, its manpower and assets, and eliminate the corporate revenue motive from the capping and cleanup process. BP has proved itself incapable of tackling this job with the best interests of Gulf coast livelihoods and the marine environment in mind, and so they ought to lose their privileges to operate in the Gulf of Mexico for a while.
After all, the nature of any corporation is to mitigate losses and increase revenues. Keep the shareholders as happy as possible, spend the least amount of money necessary, hire the best lawyers to avoid paying punitive fines and get back to drilling and selling oil for profit. This is what corporations do.