Posted by: Mike P. | July 5, 2010

Greedy Corporations

This has been bugging me for a while now, so I am just going to get it off my chest.

People keep writing about Greedy Corporations. I maintain that this statement has an obvious adjective in it.

First, let me be clear: by corporation, I mean public or very large private firms. If you are a small business owner, I am not necessarily addressing you.

Of course corporations are greedy. Their job is to make money. They have no other purpose. Of course BP cut corners when making decisions regarding safety. If their actuaries did their job and chose the proper corners to cut, then BP will have increased profits. This is true for all companies.

Let’s repeat: all companies will cut all possible corners, skirting laws, and even breaking them if we forget to fund officials to enforce the laws we do get passed. Companies are locked in a struggle to the death, each trying to out do the other. This is what capitalism is. Capitalism is not about innovation or doing the right thing or anything else except making the most profit. If innovation brings about increased profit, then an innovation will be deployed. But, if the same or better profit can be made by skirting rules or breaking unenforced laws, what path will a company take? What path should it take? If the company can turn a profit by advertising itself as “green”, then perhaps that is the path it will take. But, that path will only be maintained so long as management is convinced that a “green” path makes more money.

The fact that “we” do not to what to want face head on is that the gulf gusher is not BP’s fault, but ours. BP has limited free will. We have free will. Electing politicians who gutted/failed to enact regulations was simply stupid. If you voted for such people, then you created the problem in the gulf, not BP.

We burn oil at an insane rate. When I stand at the corner of a major highway near where I live, maybe one in fifty vehicles gets 30 mpg. Why? Why are we still supporting an SUV lifestyle? This just does not make sense. Why do we not have high fuel taxes with rebates for the poor, or perhaps tax coupons issued to those who can not afford to buy newer, lower mpg vehicles? The gasoline juggernaut just keeps right on chugging along. And we continue to vote into power those who make this lifestyle viable. Sarah Palin and similar pundits offer pearls of wisdom such as drilling the ANWR will solve our problems. From what I have been able to tell, a blowout would be far more difficult to deal with in ANWR than in the gulf. And look at the wonderful success they are having in the gulf. Supposedly, the entire problem in the gulf occurred because “we” forced oil companies to drill deep and difficult. What we should have done is reduce the need for such drilling, and elected those who would have voted for better safeguards. Pre-drilled relief wells. BOPs with double cutters.

We are making some progress, I hope, in areas such as home insulation, energy-efficient glass and properly sealed doors. But, why does it not occur to the general public to lower the demand even more?

Oh, and let’s just pretend global warming doesn’t exist. We ALL KNOW that global warming was dreamed up by some scientists. And besides, China will just keep burning carbon based fuels, so there is NO possible solution. Even though we are China’s biggest customer, we are, well, just hamstrung. Nothing we can do at all. I had to sit through this lame ass argument the other night at dinner. Good grief.

The problem in the gulf is not “greedy corporations.” The problem represents our failure to understand the issues and elect people to office who can create the proper playgrounds for the corporations to play in. And if China does not want lower emissions, perhaps India will. Or perhaps we can help develop Africa. We have options. But so long as we keep voting into power those who are either morons or else those who put the interests of major corporations ahead of the interests of the world at large, change may come in a deadly and irreversible form.

By the way: is anyone but me bothered by the stupidity of burning such a complex molecule? Look at all the things that can be made from it. Well, anyway. I keep expecting to be visited by aliens who smack us upside the head for burning something so valuable. I have a strange mind 🙂


  1. Being Albertan, I’ve gotten to see this problem up close on a regular basis. The really sad part is that it’s not just the people thousands of kilometres away from this one particular oil spill. People where I live seem to be able to literally watch fish and birds float belly-up in Chipewyan Lake and then turn around, climb into their SUVs and head home. Honestly. We’re simultaneously one of the world’s largest petrochemical producers and one of the last few remaining untouched parklands, and people are prioritizing the wrong one. Really, things are better off without us.

  2. You think that BP is greedy? Check this:

    • Only foolish people (or the very young) are not aware of Bhopal. As I suggest above, and was proven in Bhopal, any corporation will take whatever shortcuts are possible wherever they do business. It seems like there should be a trivial mathematical equation of some sort that we could simply prove this to be the case, accept it, and move on.

      A country such as India wants to build a manufacturing base, so it needs to attract jobs. Those jobs have to be cheaper than where the current jobs are. The most obvious cost cutting measure is wages, and the second, safety.

      Personally, I do not think we should allow any imports made anywhere that do not adhere to American safety standards. But, oh my, the hue and cry that occurs when you say something like that. “You have no right to impose your laws on us” say the puppets. The puppets being those who speak for the factory owners.

      They are correct; we do not have the right to impose standards on others. But, we most certainly have the right to impose standards on goods we import into our country.

      As for Bhopal, I was unaware of the long lasting effects of the disaster and the true number of people affected. Most of us know that on the order of 4,000 people were killed that night, but the long term impact is not widely publicized. I had heard of the settlement, knew it was relatively small, and figured that lawyers grabbed a good deal of it. On the other hand, the case has dragged on for a rather long time, so perhaps the lawyer’s fees are not excessive.

      I believe those who should be blamed are those who allowed such lax safety standards in your country. India allowed a chemical manufacturer into its borders, and it did not impose standards. That company will abuse India.

      Should we hold the company execs responsible? Perhaps. But, I think it is time we take responsibility into our own hands. Elect people who will pass appropriate standards.

      But, at the end of the day, there may be no jobs, no money, and hence no food. There are no easy answers here. But, please do not assume I feel the UCC executives are blameless. I sort of think of them as a mathematically necessary piece of shit type person that springs into existence due to the type of economic system we have. I don’t really care what happens to them. Shoot him in the head for all I care.

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