Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Big business has made it a habit to privatize profits and socialize disasters. It's time to put an end to their destructive pattern of behavior and the rules which allow them to get away with it. (Photo:

The Cost of Doing (BIG) Business

Laura Flanders


“The cost of doing business.” That’s what corporations call it when they claim a deduction from their taxes for the damage they’ve done to people and the planet. It’s a cost of doing business all right; a cost to us, of doing business with them the way we currently do it, and it’s just one of the reasons so many people are calling for a whole new system.

To recap: on April 20, 2010, BP’s leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing eleven workers and spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico. That rig kept spewing for 87 miserable days while reporters were kept away and the company told the public lies.

Five years on, BP has been found guilty of gross negligence and misconduct. They’ve been slapped with $42 billion in fines and damages. But the British behemoth’s not only threatening politicians they’ll pull out of the Gulf entirely if their fines aren’t reduced, they’re claiming a lot of that money back, thanks to a tax loophole that will enable BP to claim as much as 80 percent of the damages they've paid out so far as an ordinary business expense.

It’s not just BP either. Car makers, chemical companies, mine owners and banksters routinely deduct part of their court ordered payouts from their taxes…Which means that means we the people who sustain the damage, are also the ones subsidizing the damages.

What to do? US PIRG - the Public Interest Group are petitioning the Justice Department to deny BP more write-offs. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has sponsored a bill to change close the loophole. But even to talk about a loophole suggests there’s an opening in a fabric that's otherwise intact. When it comes to the public's contract with big business, that fabric never been stitched straight.

Big business has too much power and local coffers are far too strapped. That’s dangerous for people and the planet as we saw in the gulf. And no small reform is going to be enough to fix it.

That’s why more and more people are looking at alternatives: not just renewable energy, but collectively owned utilities, and local, not corporate control.

“There’s a revolution going on right now when it comes to local power,” Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self Reliance told us recently. Mitchell and a slew of Laura Flanders Show guests have signed onto “A Next System Project” launched by our colleagues at the New Democracy Collaborative. There’s no doubt more on this to come. But it just may be that this is a great time for BP to move out. The bill for the cost of doing business big business's way just may be coming due.

* * *

See more in the video below including Flanders' interview with Mitchell of ILSR and Esteban Kelly of the Aorta Collective on the growing movement for a new economy:

© 2021 GRITtv
Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including "Bushwomen: How They Won the White House for Their Man" (2005). She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media, and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Historic Offshore Wind Lease Sale in California Gets Over $750 Million in Winning Bids

"If we build on today's forward momentum, the United States can dramatically reduce its global warming emissions and become a global leader in renewable energy technologies like deep-water offshore wind."

Brett Wilkins ·

Solidarity Fund Up and Running for Designer Behind Iconic Bernie Sanders Posters

Tyler Evans "has dedicated his life to the progressive movement," says the GoFundMe created for the hospitalized designer. "Now it's our time to have Tyler's back when he and his family need it most."

Jessica Corbett ·

Journalism Defenders Push for Passage of 'Game-Changing' PRESS Act

"The PRESS Act is the most important free press legislation in modern times because it would finally stop the government from spying on journalists and threatening them with arrest for doing their jobs," explained one advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·

New York Times Union Workers Planning Dec. 8 Walkout, Rally Over Pay

"Our collective action is working: Management backed off its attempt to kill our pension and agreed to expand fertility benefits," the union said of ongoing talks. "But management still barely budged on some of our most important priorities."

Jessica Corbett ·

Dems Back Blue Dog Spanberger for Swing District Post Over Progressive Cartwright

The corporate Democrat's path to victory was "pretty simple," said one progressive. "Matt Cartwright supports Medicare for All and Spanberger is a former CIA agent who spends all her time punching left."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo