Tribune posters going off the deep end on my BP column


Hey, it's BP CEO Tony Hayward. Get him! Don't let him get away! Okay, then what?

Today's column on BP has drawn a lot of response, some of it fair and reasonable. Allow me to answer: 

  • I'm not absolving BP of any responsibility. I didn't say "poor" BP. BP and the other companies that caused this disaster should be held completely accountable--for the loss of life, injury, destruction of jobs and the environment. They should pay for everything. Period. Can I make it any plainer?
  • I have no sympathy for BP, but I do for some of their stockholders. BP was the blue chip of British stocks and was considered a safe investment for pensioners and various funds--retirement and charitable among them. Look at your own IRA or 401k perspective and you'll probably find that you own some. For a better understanding of the point I was trying to make, check out this Los Angeles Times story.
  • Don't you get a little tired of blaming Bush for everything? I'm objecting (as I have before) to the politicalization of what is essentially a technical question that first must be resolved before we can accurately and fully fix blame. Yes, lax enforcement of regulations may have played a role, and whoever was running things should be held accountable.
  • Obama's role. Maybe those who accused me of leveling knee jerk criticism at President Obama obviously  didn't read the column.
  • Why bring up Jesse Jackson? You might not have noticed, but Jesse Jackson was the first to bring up Jesse Jackson.
  • As for his boycott, I am not against using the market place to make a point; it's a good idea. But a Jackson-led boycott's effectiveness is so nil that the idea can only be self-serving. To be effective, a boycott would have to not only avoid buying BP's gasoline but also all the products into which petroleum is refined, which is darn near everything. BP's punishment is self-administered by its loss of value and its danger of bankruptcy.
  • A lot of the hot air being expelled is illustrative of the extent that the "somebody has to do  something" syndrome that dominates American thinking. There's got to be a quick and easy solution to every problem, no matter how catastrophic, Always, someone else has to do the planning and set-up and pay the costs. It's naive and simpleminded.
  • Yes, any dolt can see that the BP oil spill is a man-made, not a natural disaster. But, what difference does that make? Is it more reasonable to expect that we should be completely prepared for every manmade disaster or for every natural disaster? Are we ready for a dirty bomb attack on Chicago? Do you have a plan for, say, complete evacuation of the city, even with four days warning? And where everyone should go? I trust that you'll get on it, without leaving any loose ends.
  • I sleep just fine. Getting under some thin skins is a great sedative. 

Filed under: Uncategorized

Tags: BP, environment, Gulf, oil, spill, Tribune



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  • Mr. Byrne:

    You touch on two negative aspects of American culture. First of all, we are a short-term society, which means we expect instant gratification. Secondly, we have low uncertainty avoidance. That is why we went off half-cocked into Iraq, half the pregnancies in this country are unplanned, and BP thought they were prepared for what happened.

  • Mr. Byrne...what about the investor's personal responsibility in this?

    Buying stock is a gamble. And anyone buying BP stock should have been aware of the risks. This is a company with a culture that has been long reported to be short on safety. It was something that Heyword was supposed to be brought in to fix. BP investors rode out the big spill on the North Slope that occured do to lack of BP maintenance. They rode out the disastrous Texas refinery explosion that killed more than a dozen workers. They rode out benzene leaks and bad press in Whiting, IN. They did this because it was profitable to do so. Now those things have come back to bite BP and its investors and they don't like it. Too bad. There is no guarantee that you make money with stocks or any other investment. Eventually a bad investment is going to catch up with you --- and BP's actions have finally caught up with investors. Let's not ignore that reality. BP is at fault. By extension, investors who own the company and did little to change the culture because they were getting nice dividend checks are also at fault.

    And just to be clear, my mother-in-law worked for BP and has massive investments in the company. She is taking a serious hit. I do not relish the stock tanking. Nor do I wish ill of BP investors. But it is a wake up call that the culture of the companies we invest in do matter. And if the companies we invest in have a bad track record, eventually that will come in to play---and we will have to deal with those consequences.

  • Dennie Burne asks...
    Don't you get a little tired of blaming Bush for everything?
    Sure Dennie. We'll stop blaming Shrub for everything as soon as you cheap labor conservatives stop blaming Carter and Clinton for everything. In other words, never.

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