Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Paying for recklessness

What the heck is Obama on about ? I do not understand why he gave a national address about BP’s recklessness and how they ‘will pay’. Since when does an American President have the moral standing to lecture foreign corporations? Since, like, never. And why was his speech given at the Resolute desk-a location previously reserved for war and other IMPORTANT crises. The oil spill is important, but administratively important. I think they should declare a national emergency and let FEMA get it right at least once in the Gulf region after Hurricane Katrina. This is such a domestic problem and very symbolic on a national level. It somehow cheapens the office of the Presidency to hear Obama chastising BP and assuring the public that BP will pay. OF course, it is all politics. Mid-term elections are coming.

Even so, I am baffled by the political decision to attack BP so aggressively but without any real specifics except that BP 'will pay'. I am glad that he did mention that these spills are the result of the American addiction to fossil fuels. There has been a weird lack of focus on that in news reports. I think we love our cars a little more than the environment-to say the least. The majority of complaints about the spill have focused on the loss of jobs and the damage to the seafood industry and yes, the turtles and birds as well. And there are the complaints about BP as well.

I guess Americans do not realize that US oil companies have been terrorizing the world in all sorts of ways for decades. Just this week the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco) heard arguments in the case of Larry Bowoto v. Chevron, 09-15641. In 1998, there was a violent altercation on a Chevron oil platform between Chevron employed ‘police officers’ and Nigerian protestors. The ‘police officers’ were Nigerian military who had been called in by Chevron to assist. 2 people died and others were beaten and shot. Chevron argued that the Nigerian protestors were armed with knives, holding hostages and threatening to set the platform on fire. The protestors claim that they were just protesting a loss of jobs and damage to the environment caused by Chevron’s activities. The appeal focuses on the burden of proof instructions for battery that the judge gave to the jury. The appeal may result in a new trial for Chevron who was acquitted of wrongful death, torture, assault, battery and negligence at trial. Now, Chevron was acquitted below so it seems really unfair to use this case as an example of evil corporate America. But Chevron acquired Unocal in 2005 and Unocal was involved in one of the first cases to utilise the Alien Tort Claims Act as a basis for US court jurisdiction over a claim brought by an alien against a US Corporation. Doe v. Unocal, 248 F.3d 915 (9th Cir. 2001). In Doe, they hired former Burmese military to ‘police’ villagers working at a Unocal facility. Lots of human rights violations occurred. Unocal settled the matter and set up a fund to compensate victims.

US Corporations are remorseless. I am sure BP will be the same. Hey, maybe we should make Goldman pay for the oil spill!! (just kidding)

We really only have ourselves to blame for all of this . I think it would have been awesome if Obama got on the telly and said, “Nation, we are switching to solar energy. Future oil spill problem –SORTED! Thank you, thank you very much.”



  1. Don't be so surprised.

    Obama is acting this way because the largely stupid American public demands it.

    American thinking has changed dramatically in the past quarter century. Compare BP to Exxon V. Not even remotely comparable. Bush 1 never even visited after the accident. Obama has put off four international trips to stay focused on the Gulf.

    Americans, God love them, have come to expect government to be there to fix, provide, and make them feel better - no matter what the issue or problem. No longer are we a nation of rabid individualists, we have become a herd of foolish sheep. And the sheep demanded that he act pissed. That is, after all, better than focusing on the real problems.


  2. Dude, you hit the nail on the head! I am not surprised, just disappointed. I do wish we were less focused on compensation and more focused on pretyy much anything else. I am sorry for the spill.

    I checked out your blog. Very interesting and provocative. Thanks for commenting!!