BP bashing is getting a little out of control


Getty Images photo by Win McNamee / May 17, 2010
With protesters behind him, BP America Chairman and President Lamar McKay, right, waits in the audience to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in Washington, DC. McKay, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Coast Guard Deputy National Incident Commander Rear Adm. Peter Neffenger were scheduled to testify on the topic of "Gulf Coast Catastrophe: Assessing the Nation's Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill."

The opportunistic Rev. Jesse Jackson was at it again, calling on the populace to rain punishment down on BP for the Gulf oil spilland its failure to make millions of gallons of oil disappear overnight.

Jackson has directed us to boycott the petroleum company -- not just for polluting the Gulf but, as he said in his Huffington Post column that was full of overstated dangers, for its refinery operations on Lake Michigan's shores.

However, the financial impact of any Jackson boycott is piddling to what BP has done to itself. Its stock is trading at 40 to 50 percent below its price before the Gulf spill, meaning that it has lost about half its value, some $90 billion. That's less than book value -- the worth of all its refineries, oil fields and rigs, property and other assets less its liabilities and intangible assets. If that isn't suitable penance, you might ask a big chunk of its shareholders -- pension funds, individual 401(k) investors, etc. -- if they think it's punishment enough.

Jackson reflects a deep seam in the American character, a kind of Puritanism that grips even the most liberal: the need to inflict punishment. First establish blame, then ladle out punishment, and if it exceeds suitable levels, then so much the better. That doesn't leave much time, energy or resources for fixing the problem.

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  • Why is it that the media never brings up the obvious in covering the BP oil disaster? How to plug/stop it? Anything that has to do with plugging or stopping this leak is NEVER mentioned. Could it be that the media does not want to offend BP because they want this oil well and oil so badly?

    After all is is only a SIX INCH pipe. We have massive Naval resources in the area with a lot of experise in deep sea operations. Cut the alledged "blow out preventor" off (they already can do this as witnessed by cutting the riser peipe) and use a screw, plug, or concrete block on top to plug this gusher once and for all. These and other ideas are all over the web and come from some pretty credible sources - Professor Katz, etc.

  • Here's a copy of the letter to the editor I sent today:

    Dennis Byrne

  • There never is a better time for all lefties to bash ANY major company,why not now? What they fail to know is that Obama had the time to waive maritime laws to allow other countries flagged ships to help but didn't.He could have allowed states to build sand bars to save outer islands and didn't.This should show the ineptness of big government but wait lets bash BP. When this ends and the investigation is completed and it shows BP was negligent then we can take steps to blame them.Remember all good little corporate haters,we can not drill for oil on land because of EVERYTHING,we force them off shore.What happened to holding hands and singing kumbiah!!!!!

  • Oh yea I forgot...Lets blame Bush and Chaney too

  • It's hard to say at this point what BP deserves--the equivalent of a tongue lashing, a taste of the knout, or sympathy for a an accident that was unforseeable due to the extreme depths at which work was being done. There have been some stories that BP was cutting corners to keep costs down. There are also suggestions that the immediate blame belomgs to contractors who were doing the work--but even if that is so, the "buck stops" at BP's desk. Blaming, blame-shifting, etc., will probably go on for years.

    Why are you so exercised by what Jesse Jackson says or does? Jesse Jackson is now a sort of public clown. He may still have a following in Rainbow Push, but I doubt that outside that venue he has any following at all. It is certain that we will see Jesse Jackson whenever and wherever there is an opportunity to get in front of a TV camera. It's a technique he used successfully in the '60s and '70s when he was a voice of the relatively voiceless civil rights movement. In those days it was a somewhat herois thing to do. A half-century later, it is just sad or funny depending how you feel about him.

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    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

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