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Thursday, May 27, 2010

BP, Fried Brains, and the Three Little Pigs

We've got half a dam out there in the Gulf of Mexico right now. And, as anyone with any familiarity with logic will be able to tell you, a half a dam is not actually a dam. While BP's "top kill" effort is showing some signs of success, it's way too soon to break out the champagne.

Associated Press:

The Coast Guard says BP is having some success slowing the Gulf of Mexico oil leak by injecting mud but the fix isn't done yet.

Coast Guard Lt. Commander Tony Russell said reports today that Admiral Thad Allen, who is overseeing the operation, had called the procedure a success were incorrect. He said Allen said that the flow of mud was stopping some of the oil and gas but had a ways to go before it proved successful.






BP spokesman Tom Mueller said the effort that started Wednesday to plug the blown-out with mud, called a top kill, was continuing.


Overlooked by most of the media is an internal BP memo comparing workers to the three little pigs and setting the value of their lives at $1,000. In determining the cost/benefit of protecting workers from explosions, BP decided that blast-resistant housing was way too expensive to protect piggies who were only worth a grand a pop. So they went with regular old trailers. Sure, it's evil. But golly, it's cute.

BP 'three piggies' graphic
Click for fullsized image


Blast-resistant housing is just ten bucks per worker over the cost-to-benefit equation. Sorry piggies. For their part, the oil behemoth says they've "fundamentally changed the culture of BP" since the last disaster they've been involved with -- a Texas oil refinery explosion five years ago. Apparently, not enough to save 11 workers on Deepwater Horizon.

And not enough to have avoided this:



Get what that marine toxicologist said? The chemical dispersants literally fry the brain. And BP's hiring people they've put out of work, people who feel they have no choice, to go out -- without protection -- and work with these chemicals. Makes you wonder what those piggies are worth to BP. Less than the cost of a respirator, maybe. The Coast Guard finally had to step in and make BP stop sending these people out.

The next time some grinning idiot tells you that corporations are your friends, remember all this. Among international corporations -- and even most large nationals -- BP is not an exception. What's happening here amounts to a random corporation getting the sort of scrutiny they should've gotten all along and that scrutiny is telling us who they really are. Let me emphasize the word "random" there -- nearly any corporation, exposed to this level of attention, would fare as badly. BP's just in the spotlight right now.

And allow me to repeat what I think is very good advice in dealing with regulatory oversight and big corporations; assume they're trying to get away with something, because they are. Always. You may believe that they're a necessary evil, but don't ever forget that they're an evil. We should trust BP, Transocean, Halliburton, or Consolidated Weiner-on-a-Stick no more than they can absolutely prove they can be trusted.

To do anything else is to enter into a one-sided suicide pact, where you agree to take the bullet and the corporations agree to sell it to you.

-Wisco


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