15 June 2010

Corporate accountability

The Gulf oil disaster has received a lot of attention in Britain, but with a somewhat different emphasis than here. Irresponsible tabloids have harped on a supposed wave of anti-British feeling and rhetoric in the US (something which, as far as I can tell, has not actually happened at all). More respectable papers fret over possible damage to BP's stock price. Many large investment companies there hold shares, including pension funds; American demands that BP be held liable for the damage it has caused are presented as a threat to granny's monthly check, and some British commentators have called on their government to press Obama to back off from BP (more here).

Such objections are untenable. Any really large corporation has some of its stock owned by small investors or pension funds. If that means that it is unacceptable to punish a corporation for malfeasance by doing anything that might reduce the value of its stock, then no major corporation can ever be held accountable for anything it does wrong.

Investment always carries some risk. BP’s horrendous history of safety and regulatory violations is a matter of public record, accessible to British investment companies just as it’s accessible to anyone. The risk of BP creating a major environmental disaster and being forced to pay for it was foreseeable, and it was the duty of those investment companies to take it into account.

If the American mass public mind starts hearing of calls from Britain to let BP off the hook, the wave of anti-British feeling here which, so far, exists only in the minds of British tabloid writers will instantly become reality. Those who would make such calls need to look at the reality of the situation in the Gulf and re-consider their position.

7 Comments:

Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Good Morning Mr. Infidel!

I had to read through this thing twice actually to fully savor what you have pieced together here .... because there is so much crap to try to keep up with that is going on with this ordeal. This is a damn good posting and food for thought on this .... because frankly alot of what is happening is complex, and the affiliate's, politic's, investment's, etc. It took me at least 5 year's alone just to figure out Cheney's gig in the last administration. I havent wrote much about BP and the accountability beside's that one posting on it .... because there is so much crap to look at in this, as alway's .... it's the complexities and why they are designed the way they are that eat our asses everytime. As far as proposed thought's and/ or strategies .... I am shooting in the dark right now .... and still somewhat cautious of this BP, and "how" accountable they will actually be in the longhaul, put it this way .... I sure as Hell wouldnt turn my back on them, and I am not anti - corporation as many on the right think I am locally ... I'm anti getting fucked without lube is all. :)

Thanx Guy .........

15 June, 2010 06:26  
Blogger tnlib said...

So, what you're saying is - the Brits are as greedy as the Americans. The bottom line is money - not irrevocable damage.

Excellent post, as always.

15 June, 2010 07:42  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RC & TNLib: Thanks.

The human race, deep down, doesn't vary all that much from place to place. Corporate executives and big stock traders in Britain (or anywhere else) are probably just as prone to greed as their American counterparts. Ordinary people such as pensioners, just like here, sometimes fail to think things through to their logical conclusion, and are prone to having the media manipulate them into feeling they are being hard done by (especially since the internet doesn't seem to be as prominent in Britain yet as it is here).

15 June, 2010 16:18  
Blogger Tim said...

Your posting is quite level headed and to the point. Nice work.
I'm getting so very sick of the Brits whining about their stock in BP.
As you mentioned they claim were bashing them. Some how they can't seem to draw a distinction from BP and themselves. I guess that's their problem....

16 June, 2010 01:14  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

We have such short memories:

"The Bhopal Gas Tragedy is one of the world's worst ever industrial catastrophes and occurred on the night of December 3, 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. At that time, UCIL was the Indian subsidiary of the U.S. company Union Carbide Corporation.

Some 25 years after the gas leak, 390 tons of toxic chemicals abandoned at the UCIL plant continue to leak and pollute the groundwater in the region and affect thousands of Bhopal residents who depend on it, though there is some dispute as to whether the chemicals still stored at the site pose any continuing health hazard.

Over two decades since the tragedy, certain civil and criminal cases remain pending in the United States District Court, Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal, India, against Union Carbide, (now owned by Dow Chemical Company), with an Indian arrest warrant also pending against Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster." --Wikipedia

What are the chances that BP will behave in exactly the same way as Union Carbide?

I'm guessing very high.

Nothing changes in the world of corporate greed and malfeasance.

16 June, 2010 07:49  
Blogger mommapolitico said...

Well said, Infidel. There has to be accountability. And every investment comes with risk. Just as bp took on risk when it started drilling in deep water, they now should be saddled with the responsibility of escrow accounts, or some sort of assurance of compensation and reparations for the mess they've caused. Anti-British? No. anti-drunk-with-profits corporate greed? Yes! Great post, friend.

16 June, 2010 17:06  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Tim: I'm hoping the reality of the situation is starting to get through to them. British tabloid newspapers are about as responsible and reality-bound as Glenn Beck, unfortunately.

SK: Well, Obama still has a chance to show he'll be tougher with BP. The new escrow account is a start. Let's keep an eye on it and hope it works as intended.

And, of course, I'm sure that most Americans wouldn't interpret an Indian get-tough policy on Union Carbide as "anti-American" (well, maybe Beck's audience would).

MP: Thanks for visiting. BP has always pushed risk right to the edge, judging by their safety record. If we don't squeeze them so much for this that it motivates them to change their ways in the future to avoid a recurrence, we're not squeezing hard enough.

16 June, 2010 18:23  

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