>Modern Corporate Patriotism

>Under the new Republican mantra of “privatize gains, socialize losses,” yesterday Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski defeated a bill that would cap BP’s liability at $10 billion, an increase from $75 million. That means us taxpayers have to pay for the rest of the cleanup if BP opts not to.

How’s that for a Big Oil bailout? Let them make as big of a mess as they want, and we taxpayers will pay for the cleanup. Easy peasy.

The reason, she claims is that

It would be impossible or perhaps close to impossible for any energy company that is smaller than the supermajors, smaller than the national oil companies, to operate in the O.C.S.

which is patently dishonest because, for one thing, drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf is already prohibitively expensive, and thus only something the “supermajors” can tackle. And too:

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, said Murkowski’s argument didn’t hold up. “The risk is what has to be calulated here. If you drill, you need to be able to pay for the damages,” Menendez said.

Interestingly, there is a similar law over on the nuclear energy side called the Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act. In the event of an accident at a nuke plant, the federal government pays all liability claims above $10 billion. So much for that free hand of the market stuff!

The American taxpayer needed to come to the rescue of the nuclear power industry because, as Wikipedia notes,

At the time of the Act’s passing, it was considered necessary as an incentive for the private production of nuclear power — this was because investors were unwilling to accept the then-unquantified risks of nuclear energy without some limitation on their liability.

Ah yes, just another way the “free hand of the market” isn’t really all that “free” but instead gives a generous government assist to the oil and nuclear industry–an assist I daresay the solar and wind power industries never see.

So don’t talk to me about how “competitive” green energy could never be, not when the game is rigged.

Anyway, all of this is preamble to what’s really outrageous about the whole “privatize gains, socialize losses” tactic at play here. Because where the BP oil spill is concerned, none of these players are American companies. They are all headquartered overseas, and therefore pay few U.S. corporate taxes.

Transocean Ltd.? They’re based out of Zug, Switzerland. They moved there two years ago–from the Cayman Islands. Formerly based out of corproate-friendly Delaware, they haven’t called America home since 1999.

Halliburton? Once based in Houston, they now call Dubai home. This despite raking in billions in U.S. government contracts.

BP, as we all know, stands for “British Patroleum.” They are based out of the United Kingdom.

So there you go. American taxpayers will be paying for this oil spill in a lot of ways: loss of jobs in affected industries such as tourism and fishing. There’s the damage to the ecosystem. There will be health costs associated with the toxic mess. And while Lisa Murkowski blocks raising BP’s liability, meaning Joe and Jane taxpayer will pay for more of the cleanup, we’ve got three two major players who have dodged paying their full share of corporate taxes by moving to overseas tax havens. Talk about “starving the beast”!

Even worse, as I frequently remind my readers, all of this talk about us “needing” to drill offshore for our “energy security” is just a load of bull. We don’t have a nationalized oil industry in this country. Oil is traded on the world market. That oil pulled out of the deep sea bed is as likely to end up in South America, China, or the EU as it is American SUVs.

So how about this. Since American taxpayers are paying to clean up this mess anyway, why don’t we make sure we’re the ones reaping the rewards of offshore drilling? How about nationalizing the oil companies, or at the very least creating a nationalized oil company. If you’re going to drill in U.S. waters, then that’s who’s going to have to do it. Hell, we’re paying for it anyway.

Sound too socialist for you? Maybe. But the alternative isn’t looking much better.

10 Comments

Filed under BP, corporations, Gulf oil spill, Halliburton, oil industry

10 responses to “>Modern Corporate Patriotism

  1. >Thanks SoBe for the heads up on this article. As you probably surmise by now, I am more than outraged by the Gulf oil spill. I am ready to go ballistic, and if that is what it takes, then so be it.Shaw, who visits the right wing blogs, has mentioned that there is no coverage at all regarding this disaster, and I suspect denial is not the motive. What doesn't fit one's worldview just gets ignored. Out of sight, out of mind … like when a wingnut ignores every point you make in an debate and conveniently changes the subject. Don't expect any "oh shit" or Eureka moments from the nuttery. In fact, don't expect anything at all from them. This is going to be a very lonely and thankless fight.

  2. >Its amazing how energized normally sleepy Senators become when their sugar daddies jerk their chains. The irresponsible corporations take the long view anyway, drag out any payments owed thru the courts for twenty years like they did with Exxon Valdez… waiting for the 'right' court to gut the verdict. As it happened, so shall it happen again. The blood is blue, the money is old. They stick together.

  3. >At the very least, pass legislation mandating all offshore oil from any companies sanctioned to drill in US coastal waters direct 100% of the flow to US needs. Period. No more happy PR crap about 'domestic oil production' that really is put on the spot market and ultimately sent over to China or somewhere else. 37North

  4. >Speaking of patriotic: Rachel Maddow went through great pains last nite to describe the leasing company's (not BP–the other one) incorporation, in Switzerland and/or the Cayman Islands, with the actual rig flying the flag (akin to an oil tanker having a nationality) of the Marshall Islands.And here's why I like her: She intoned that this was a bad thing and should be changed. No cut-and-dried "money talks", "everybody does it" Beltway bullshit. No listening for eventual crickets from the valuistas such as Bill Bennett and Pat Buchanan.ThresherK

  5. >the argument for nationalization can be made from the left as well as the right. i've never understood why little wingers, so askeerd of terra, haven't called for nationalization on security grounds. you'd think they'd be all over taking "all the oil" out of the hands of furriners and putting it in the control of the us military, who would at least at first have to run a nationalized entity. but yes, we should nationalize for real, in addition to this behind the scenes bullshit that SoBe is describing. we're paying for it, let's keep it all here.

  6. >CD,Yeah, you'd think the wingnut attitude reflected in the bumper sticker "Who put our oil underneath all their sand?" would have something to say about this.Or maybe they can't tell the difference between a corporation and a country, as long as the country is this one.ThresherK

  7. >Once more the 'free hand' of the market turns out to be nothing more than getting the backhand from business and their political stooges. At least now we know where the Mafia went.. they were taken over by the banks and the corporations lock, stock and oil barrel. 37North

  8. >Tea Parties were originally formed to protest the bailouts to Wall Street bankers, and they are equally enraged over Senator Dodd's bill where they will "stand firm" against Financial Reform legislation allowing government Bailouts of failing companies. Sen. Hutchinson: "We will stand firm against a partisan bill that exposes ordinary Taxpayers to future Bailouts, or favors big companies over community banks across America."So I'm sure they are going to protest this in 5..4..3..2..

  9. >Very interesting point how the "drill baby drill" set wants more domestic energy production, but for that to benefit US consumers we'd have to nationalize the oil biz. But they'll never admit that, so they end up advocating for more drilling whose real beneficiaries would be oil companies including foreign-owned corporations, and big hedge fund and futures investors on Wall St.You'd think they would go crazy from all the cognitive dissonance, but their stupidity saves them from that. No wonder the big money boyz who are invested in oil like Koch etc. fund them and pull their strings with their big media and PR empires. Twisted!

  10. >I haven't bought anything made by Exxon since the Exxon Valdez and I won't be buying anything from BP for a very long time either.