Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To BP, the Cause of (and Solution to) All of Life's Problems


So it seems that the nightmare of the BP oil spill is finally over thanks to the hard work of those folks at BP. I'm not being sarcastic, in case you were wondering (okay, maybe a little). I mean the nightmare is not over, there's still all of that oil in the Gulf to take care of, thats ruining the environment and people's livelihoods.

And yeah, and there's the matter of that that other oil spill that started earlier today, but that was a Cedyco Corp well, not a BP well, so BP's blameless in that.

But at least the Deepwater Horizon leak is capped. And that is, sincerely, the result of those hard-working people over at BP. And we should sincerely thank those hard-working people over at BP who fixed the leak.

To be clear, though, when I say we should thank the hard-working people over at BP I'm not saying we should thank BP. They caused the oil spill. Fuck them.

Allow me to explain. You, see BP is a business; a corporation, if you will. It is not, despite the claims of a certain bullshit Supreme Court ruling, a person. The corporation BP sucks and is horrible, but it includes people, some of whom are hard-working, some of whom fixed the leak. And some of them are right scum.

You see, the people involved in businesses tend to be divided into two groups. One of these groups is the people who do the actual work. In the case of BP, this means the oil rig workers, the scientists who design the rigs and other technology and other similar people. These people are called "workers", because they do work for a living (but if you're feeling pretentious the term "proletariat" will also do).

The other group is the people who own the business. In the case of BP, this means the CEOs and the big time shareholders. They are called "capitalists" because they own capital for a living (but if you're feeling pretentious the term "bourgeoisie" will also do).

The hard-working people at BP who designed the technology that closed the leak and did the physical labor involved in implementing that technology are the workers. So were the 11 people who were killed in the explosion that caused the spill. The people who ignored all the safety checks for the sake of providing $5.65 billion in profits to people who aren't you? They're the capitalists.

If you follow BP's spin-doctoring coverage of the oil spill clean up you might notice that they are ignoring that fact. They point to all the work of the workers and let the capitalists take credit for it. According to them, BP is one big, happy, family where everybody's on the same side. Right-wingers like to promote this idea.

BP themselves have been fairly cautious on account of everybody hates them, but other right-wingers have been a bit bolder. Libertarian magician/douchebag Penn Jilette came to BP's defense in the most obnoxious way possible. To quote:
"It's amazing to me that people think that attacking a corporation is the way to get out of this. No one knows more about stopping this than they do and unfortunately, it's not enough."
Note to Penn Jilette. No one knows more about stopping this than the scientists! Not the corporation! The scientists!

This attitude that the workers at and owners of offshore oil rigs should be united against those pesky environmentalist types and stuffy intellectuals was also a big theme in JJ Abrams' horrible movie Armageddon.

I mean come on! What was BP's response to the spill? First they denied the existence of the leak. Then they covered up the extent of the leak. Then they denied that it was under water. Then they blocked journalists from seeing the full impact of the spill, in collusion with the Coast Guard. It was the public outrage that Penn Jilette and JJ Abrams are so keen on mocking that compelled BP to actually do anything about this.

But really these groups of people are very different. One group gets paid to do stuff, the other gets paid to own stuff. Doing things is how things get done. Owning things isn't. You can't fix a leaking oil well by owning it really hard.

But we have a capitalist economy where things are run by unelected CEOs are shareholders (granted sometimes the CEOs are elected by the unelected shareholders, but that hardly qualifies as democracy). This is what caused the oil spill to happen. If those oil rig workers and scientists who do the actual work at BP were allowed to run BP democratically, they could run in the interests of the public at large rather than making lots of profits for people who aren't you.

That would be a socialist economy, which is what we don't have.

Robert Reich called for the nationalization of BP, or rather put BP under temporary receivership, which some people equate with socialism. This is not the case.

"Temporary receivership" would mean a short-term nationalization, without any democratic workers' control, and with the intent to put the company back in private hands as soon as the crisis is taken care of, leaving a different batch of professional owners-of-things to fuck things up again later down the road. Maybe they'd put in some more regulations, but when the economy is in control of an unelected oligarchy it's easy to ignore them, especially when those oligarchs make a big portion of campaign donations to the Democrats and Republicans alike.

Rather than "socialism-at-least-according-to-Michelle-Malkin", we might try actual socialism. Rather than "temporary receivership" we should actually nationalize BP. Permanently. Under the democratic control of the workers. That way the people who fixed the leak would decide things and not the people who caused it.

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