Thursday, June 10, 2010

Punishing BP

More ideas on punishing BP here. And it turns out my idea for giving BP the equivalent of the corporate person's death penalty isn't so crackpot after all:
And killing BP in return would hardly be unprecedented: In America's first 100 years, we shut down an average of 2,000 "rogue corporations" each year.



Yes, we can. It’s called “discretionary debarment” and it seems to be the best way to finally stand up to the oil giant:

Over the past 10 years, BP has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and been implicated in four separate instances of criminal misconduct that could have prompted this far more serious action. Until now, the company's executives and their lawyers have fended off such a penalty by promising that BP would change its ways.

Yeah, that worked out swimmingly, didn’t it?

I don’t know why our regulatory agencies are content to let corporations like BP get away with repeated misconduct while looking the other way. Oh wait, yes I do know why. We all know why: it’s just another case of corporations infiltrating every aspect of our government. From regulatory capture to lobbying to astroturfing to outright bribery and graft, our government now represents corporate interests, not the peoples' interests. And this is the predictable result.

However, it’s the only government we’ve got, and we do have the power to change it. I love right wingers who tell me this is all an example of how “government doesn’t work,” when in fact it is the corporate interests which have corrupted government to begin with. So what are we supposed to do, turn our government over to the fraudsters? Plus, I may not be able to influence BP’s board of directors but I sure as hell have a say over who represents me in Washington.

Anyway, the government can suspend all of its contracts with BP via discretionary debarment:

Federal law allows agencies to suspend or bar from government contracts companies that engage in fraudulent, reckless or criminal conduct. The sanctions can be applied to a single facility or an entire corporation. Government agencies have the power to forbid a company to collect any benefit from the federal government in the forms of contracts, land leases, drilling rights, or loans.

The most serious, sweeping kind of suspension is called "discretionary debarment" and it is applied to an entire company. If this were imposed on BP, it would cancel not only the company's contracts to sell fuel to the military but prohibit BP from leasing or renewing drilling leases on federal land. In the worst cast, it could also lead to the cancellation of BP's existing federal leases, worth billions of dollars.

Yes that's right. You folks diligently boycotting BP in a show of solidarity with our neighbors on the Gulf Coast might like to know that the U.S. government is currently giving billions of your tax dollars to BP to fuel our military. How many billions? This report I've linked to estimates around $4.6 billion over the past 10 years.

Yes that would be the same military currently deployed in the Middle East to protect "our" (read: BP and other western oil companies) access to oil. Wow, wrap your ahead around that one for a second. All of which leads most folks to believe that a full-scale discretionary debarment won't happen:

Discretionary debarment is a step that government investigators have long sought to avoid, and which many experts had considered highly unlikely because BP is a major supplier of fuel to the U.S. military. The company could petition U.S. courts for an exception, arguing that ending that contract is a national security risk. That segment of BP's business alone was worth roughly $4.6 billion over the last decade, according to the government contracts website

Yeah, see when you've got the world's largest military deployed around far-flung reaches of the globe and that military needs the juice, then a little thing like an eco-disaster in the Gulf of Mexico probably doesn't amount to a hill of beans. Our military needs its juice, because the juice is what enables us to protect the West's access to oil.

Got that? No wonder our empire is crumbling. It is being crushed by the staggering weight of its own stupidity.

Anyway, if you’d really like to punish BP for its reckless behavior, you might start with this petition advocating debarment. It's worth a shot.