Offshore oil platforms: Too big to fail?

No More Mister Nice Blog explains the facts of life to Bobby Jindal:

For the last sixteen months the GOP has been screaming that government is evil, that it is the problem, that we need less regulation in order to be more productive, more profitable, and that rules and oversight aren't needed because the free market will take care of things. You know what? If the booms [meant to keep the oil from spreading] aren't "effective" and the resources of BP are "not adequate" to deal with a disaster of this magnitude, then why the hell are you letting them operate offshore oil rigs off of your coastline, you jagoff? You're the Governor, Mr. State Sovereignty Teapublican guy. Stop the drilling until this disaster is resolved, and don't start it until you can be sure it can't happen again.

Folks, the hand of the free market just ripped a wellhead to pieces and is completely screwing over the Gulf. It's going to cost several billion dollars to fix. I'm sick of people saying that the magical free market will be responsible and keep anything bad from happening. Well guess what? The Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, this oil rig nightmare, and our economy back in 2008, they all got "fixed by the magical free market" where deregulation caused untold damage to our economy and hey, even killed people.

And now the Republicans are demanding that the government "fix the problem"? Screw you guys. Government is a lumbering vampiric dinosaur to you morons until you need the government to solve your problems for you. Then it's "I demand the government does something about this!" And it's the same Teabagger assclowns doing the loudest yelling and screaming.

Hypocritical assholes. Jindal, get your ass in gear and a mop and bucket and clean up your own mess.

This disaster has surpassed the Exxon Valdez as the worst oil spill ever, and it's still spilling. Indeed, Joe Romm argues that "oil spill" doesn't capture the situation properly. It's "an undersea volcano of oil." And part of the problem is that, not only did BP/Halliburton not install functioning safety equipment, and not only did the feds not mandate the use of equipment that's standard in other countries with significant offshore drilling, but also apparently drilled deeper than was legally authorized.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court declared that corporations are people. BP clearly committed nothing less than negligent homicide here, and probably a good deal worse. Louisiana has a death penalty, and likes to apply it in new and different ways. Maybe it's time to give BP the chair. It's not that hard, really. Just tear up its corporate charter, declare all its stock to be void, and seize all corporate assets. Give blameless employees a fair severance package from the seized assets, and let the executives deal with subsequent lawsuits without the benefit of salaries or corporate immunity.

Would a corporate death penalty have a deterrent effect? Heck yeah.

More like this

While they're at it; let's just execute all multinational corporations..
After all, they don't mind what they murder themselves if it makes them some money. We're better of without these psychopaths! No E-chair though; unless on solar-cells.. Maybe it's more appropriate to drown them in a pool of shit, like the one they will have us all living in if we don't.

By rijkswaanvijand (not verified) on 07 May 2010 #permalink

Um, BP stands for British Petroleum. I don't think the crown extradites corporate charters.

Corporations suffer "death penalties," when their value plunges so much they dissolve are or acquired at a basement sale. Whether that actually punishes anyone actually responsible depends. The thing to keep in mind, when thinking about corporations, is that they aren't people. They don't care. Anyone who wants to think about incentives relative to corporate acts needs to push that thinking back to the various stake-holders: past, present, and future management, employees, shareholders, customers. Indeed, the only reason we have corporations is to make some of those roles more easily marketable.

BTW, the Supreme Court did not decide this summer that corporations were people. That criticism of the Citizens United case ignores the text of the 1st amendment and the simple fact it explicitly protects "the press." It takes a pretty strained reading to somehow exclude the Massachusetts Centinel from the press at the time of the framing, or MSNBC from the press today.

@Russell -- I believe the Supreme Court reference is to the fact that corporate contributions limits have been lifted on the basis that corporations should apparently have equal rights to influence political outcomes as individuals. (This ignores the issue, for example, that individuals are really legally required to be citizens of the country in question, where corporations may be entirely foreign-owned, but neveryoumind that.) It puts corporations on the same footing as individual citizens.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 04 May 2010 #permalink

Um, BP stands for British Petroleum. I don't think the crown extradites corporate charters.

Irrelevant. The United States is one of many countries that have been known to execute foreign nationals.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 04 May 2010 #permalink

@1: No, not anymore and not for quite a long time. It actually stands for "Beyond Petroleum" and is one of those multinational corporations.

Luna, the decision did not overturn limits on campaign contributions. It overturned restrictions on what corporations could publish. The issue wasn't that Citizens United was contributing to anyone's campaign, but that it contributed to the making of an attack movie on Hillary Clinton. But as Kennedy explained, "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech." And as the decision makes clear, it's quite difficult to distinguish, legally, between a union of fishermen expressing their political view, the ACLU expressing its political view, and Fox News expressing its. The 1st amendment is broadly written.

My own view is that the focus needs to move to electoral reform. See, for example,

@4 @1: wrong again. BP does not stand for British Petroleum, nor does it stand for Beyond Petroleum. Beyond Petroleum was a marketing campaign, a rebranding of the company's image. BP just means BP -- two letters -- nothing else.

The company, however, is segmented into different parts. BP America, Inc. operates in the Gulf of Mexico (and Alaska,) and is in many ways an autonomous company. It's not even necessary to direct lawsuits at the parent company in the UK. We only have to focus on BP America, Inc.

The fact that multi-nationals oft are patchwork quilts of corporations overlapping in management and ownership weakens even more the notion that the right way to address externalities is by some kind of anthropomorphic "corporate death penalty." Those corporate boundaries are put in place precisely to shield managers and shareholders as much as possible from "local" exposure. "Executing" BP America will indeed change how shareholders invest and managers make corporate decisions. Alas, it's more likely to affect future corporate structure, outsourcing, and executive incentive packages than what gets done that actually exposes the rest of the world to the risk of another blow out. What's needed there is better regulation, tougher restrictions, and energy policy.

Um, not the "worst oil spill ever", just in the US. At least not yet, but of course it's still running, but so far it isn't even close to the Top 10. See….
Note the Ixtoc 1 spill from 1979 (#2 on the list) ... another Gulf platform blew out and discharged 10-30,000 bbl/day for 9 months. Considerable environmental impact, which Pemex declined to pay the cleanup costs for. Ixtoc also had one of them magic "BOP" thingys that didn't work.

#1 biggest on this list is Saddam's retreat from Kuwait, which maybe shouldn't count, since it wasn't a single event, and wasn't an accident.

@6: Really? Heh, so much for listening to BP employees.

BTW, the Supreme Court did not decide this summer that corporations were people.

The legal status of corporations as people under the 14th Amendment goes back to the 1880s. It was never actually ruled on as such. The Court seemingly took it for granted implicitly, and the official court reporter spelled it out explicitly, and we've been there ever since.

Note that "corporate personhood" simply means US and state governments can't regulate corporations in ways they can't regulate people. For example, corporations have free speech, just like people, and Citizens United simply said the obvious. Corporations, however, do not have the right to do business howsoever they please, since people do not.

By william e emba (not verified) on 05 May 2010 #permalink

"I'm sick of people saying that the magical free market will be responsible and keep anything bad from happening."

Only Progressives make this claim. Normal people know that accidents happen. They also know that acts of sabotage happen.

Stick with modeling species and battling creationists, economics clearly isn't your strong suit.

I'm sick of people saying that the magical free market will be responsible and keep anything bad from happening. [Zandar]

Only Progressives make this claim. [Dr Nick]

This is complete nonsense. The leftwing generally favors government intervention in markets, the rightwing strongly opposes. The reason for opposition is "the market is always right". Because, as they argue, companies that do not self-regulate will get a bad reputation and go out of business. Milton Friedman was perhaps the most famous advocate of this position.

Stick with modeling species and battling creationists, economics clearly isn't your strong suit.

JR was actually quoting a guest blogger on some other blog. And whether or not economics is JR's strong suit, that you've spent your whole life and not once noticed that the leftwing usually favors regulation and the rightwing usually opposes is quite remarkable!

By william e emba (not verified) on 05 May 2010 #permalink

It is one of the worst oil spills in the history. It is gonna adversely affect the aquatic life in the sea.I feel sorry for the wild life that is gonna die because of this oil spill.

By masongreenn (not verified) on 05 May 2010 #permalink

Being redundant but BP is busy creating a bankruptcy death ala the corporate responsible for the toxicity in Aniston, Alabama. The corporate responsible shed its snake skin leaving several million dollars and became new entity without any corporate debt overnight.

The lawyers haggled over the how to divide the pot.

What is being developed as I write is a better, improved version of the legal entity in whose name loans are made, etc., and how to attach Zero financial assets to this shell. That is what will remain the lasting lesson of Thunder Horse. Between favorable federal legislation slid through a well-greased Congress and liberal applications of lobbyist money, this should not be difficult.

By katesisco (not verified) on 09 May 2010 #permalink