Published on
the Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Too Many Think BP Should Get a Pass

Seven long weeks ago I wrote my column “Oil Spill or Smiting of the Sea.” I, like you, had no idea that this disaster would still be the most crucial environmental and economic policy issue more than two full months after the explosion.

My column recommended religious extremists join forces with environmentalists to pressure our government and the multinational corporations that run our government to respect Mother Nature because cataclysms of unparalleled proportions have doctrinally indicated divine wrath meant to curtail human arrogance and greed.

Then God seemed to endorse my tongue-in-cheek proposal when lightning struck the vessel used to siphon oil from the gushing well.

God appears sick of us saving oil for human excess rather than saving his sea turtles. And he appears aghast by BP’s unwillingness to get help from other oil companies when clearly the task is too great for them to handle alone. See, other siphoning ships were in the North Sea but BP shunned the help and sent for them last week only after the feds required it.

Intentionally, or because BP isn’t up to the task, we’ve been repeatedly lied to and still the perpetrators run free. Strike that, they don’t run free, they actually run the recovery and repair efforts.

Since all this began we anti-corporate-master types called for BP’s corporate charter. While we’re at it, we’d like Halliburton’s and Transocean’s charters as well. Think of it as incarcerating the accused without bail until trial; which we do all the time to human suspects.

Additionally, stop all deep-water drilling, if for no other reason than to find out if any other companies falsely assured us that they had functioning shutoff valves the way BP falsely claimed it did. And heck, if determining whether we could destroy our oceans, sea life and sea-based oxygen production with a single oil harvesting method isn’t enough reason to halt operations, then we’ll at least know how stupid we are.

But the minute we demanded BP be held accountable, corporate apologists cried “foul.” They claimed it was about protecting business dealings in the U.S., and that’s a lie. Each and every Gulf of Mexico businessperson now faces occupational extinction because of the actions of three megacompanies, and those little entrepre-neurs know they don’t matter. Of course, the most famous crybaby is Texas congressman Joe Barton, but certainly not our only one.

Maybe the problem’s too complicated for the apologists. But it’s just like mandatory automobile insurance. All across our land governments insist that private individuals and businesses set cash aside — through insurance agencies — in case we injure someone with our vehicle. We can’t do harm and then leave the innocents without relief. Still, too many Americans think BP shouldn’t be mandated to provide relief from the damage it has done.

No matter to me, because $20 billion isn’t enough. I want the assets of BP and its stockholders seized. You know, the way the cops take every single thing a drug dealer and his family has in his home or in the bank once he or she is charged with dealing drugs.

Society hates drug dealers, so their property and wealth feels like fair game. And bad people use drugs but we give BP an emotional do-over because we use oil. But we don’t confiscate just from drug dealers. An even more blatant example of how we treat common folks differently from how we treat multinational corporations that rule our world can be found in the way we treat the poor.

Two weeks ago in Concord, Calif., local authorities confiscated food that was being distributed to the hungry and homeless. They seized this property before any conviction and at the same time arrested the volunteers distributing the victuals. That’s right, chow belonging to the humanitarian group Food Not Bombs was taken out of the hands of the hungry and thrown away. Seems some folks thought that all those homeless folks eating in the vicinity of the local farmers market could hurt the business enterprise of the farmers. Food Not Bombs director Keith McHenry pointed out that the food came from farmers.

Maybe if BP dumps homeless people on the shores of Florida the government will seize their assets — until then they’re just corporate pawns.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is an author, activist and advocate. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States."  Her new novel, The Magic Diary, is due out in late spring.

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