Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Beware of rogues who promote the idea rules and regulations are the cause of America’s problems. Our federal government was led for too many years by a philosophy such requirements weren’t needed, that the American people could count on those in the financial and corporate world doing what was right for all citizens. Additionally, those at administrative lower levels were lax, possibly encouraged or instructed to not even enforce existing regulations. I understand the desire to do as we darn well please, but I draw the line at allowing my willful acts to impinge upon what might jeopardize the welfare of others. Unfortunately, there are individuals who don't share such concerns, so laws, rules and regulations are made for our own protection.

We individuals have been subjected to the undesirable consequences of those who exploit in the name of money by ignoring regulations. We’ve seen this to be true in the automobile industry, in childrens products, in the food industry, and in coal mine operations to name just a few business types. I recall news stories during the past months involving major corporations around the world. We’re still reeling from our nation’s financial status coming close to collapse, but saved only because of the dollars you and I paid to bail out the offenders.

Even now the legislative battles continue over making needed changes to prevent a repeat of such folly. Congress is currently in the process of creating changes into a single bill before submitting for our President’s signature. So far, bankers and Wall Street’s financial managers have initiated few voluntary corrections to right prior corruptive practices in their institutions and markets. So, we must expect our legislators to adopt needed reform and top level administrators to insure regulations are enforced. We must monitor and continually prod our congressional and executive branch officials to act on our behalf. Frustratingly, all too often parties “log jam” meaningful action. They rigidly adhere to ideological positions – in the name of garnering power -- instead of genuinely participating in the art of compromise.

Presently we are exposed to another example of company officials hiding behind their distancing from ordinary people by virtue of what I refer to as “corporate think.” Those officials apparent prevailing beliefs based on their behaviors justify actions that might otherwise be considered immoral, unethical or questionable at best, just because “it’s business.” (Sounds like organized crime’s approach – think, “Godfather” movie.) Such a state seems to foster lack of respect for rules, regulations, and guidelines generally established to ensure operational or product quality and safety. The unscrupulous ignore these protective measures against potential disaster as in the instance of deep sea oil drilling. Possibly this has been due to willful negligence, but ultimately the major impact is on people and our coastal environment.

Certain drilling standards have allegedly been circumvented causing the operation to go awry. Compounding this violation, there were no provisions as required to address preventing oil spillage in the event a worst case scenario happened. This is contrary to guarantees implied or given by the company. Disaster has resulted. We can’t trust such companies to be honest. Regulation must not only be required but responsible regulators must check and be accountable. I don't really like the fact circumstances persist that incite me to write about such negligence, especially deliberate offending actions taken in the name of acquiring money, gains for excessive profit -- but that is “corporate think” in action.

Listening to the BP President's testimony before our U.S. Congress regarding polluting gushing oil, following that notorious Gulf of Mexico deep sea oil drilling rig explosion for which his company is responsible, was appalling. I suppose we can’t expect him to be too forthcoming given the potential legal liability, as I’m sure his attorneys have cautioned him, especially since the investigative determinations about precisely what happened has not yet been completed. Are we to believe he was a renegade whose behaviors didn’t reflect his company’s approach to business? That company president has been relieved of overseeing day to day recovery operations following his taking time off to attend his yacht Bob’s race. What do we expect from his replacement? Better public relations acumen?

Consider BP’s safety track record. The Alaska Dispatch describes BP is paying fines in the millions from a 2006 Prudhoe Bay oil spill on land to which they admitted guilt. BP is fighting additional fines you can read more about in Jill Burke’s article:

“BP denies the 2006 spills polluted wetlands, shorelines, rivers or the Beaufort Sea. It also denies it mishandled asbestos, a federally regulated substance, during work to prepare the pipeline for inspection. And it denies dozens of allegations that it violated a handful of other federal regulations.”

Reading this gives me real concern for conditions in our Gulf affected States – so far Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama.

What is required to insure BP behaves responsibly? Our President’s expectation that BP establish a sizable escrow account is a meaningful effort to insure financial security for some incurred costs. Read more and view videos at this White House website link.

(The Congressman from Texas sullied the name of Barton with his apology to big oil so come re-election time voters know where his allegiance lies despite his later forced muddling apology. I wonder what his reaction would be if oil from the ocean were polluting parts of his State? )

See this BP history of pollution fines with a quick glance timeline chart beginning in 1960:

Is BP another corporation “too big to be allowed to fail?” Shouldn’t we continue to forge ahead at full speed to eliminate our nation’s oil dependence?

A Federal Court Judge’s ruling has negated our President’s 6 month moratorium on deep sea oil drilling. Presumably the ruling will be appealed. Some fishing and other businesses protest the moratorium as creating more financial loss and human hardship in jobs. Others believe the long range goal for businesses and the environment is best addressed by determining more effective preventative and corrective measures for possible future spills before resuming drilling. Legally the ruling may be just, but law application does not always result in fully moral and ethical results in every respect.

The oil pollution saga continues with many more unpalatable facts yet to emerge I fear. The hurricane season has begun with expectations the storms may be as severe as the year that brought the devastation of hurricane Katrina to New Orleans, Louisiana. Their effects of spreading oil on our nation’s Gulf shores do not bode well for either wildlife above or below the sea’s water. Deep in the ocean the oil keeps gushing at a rate far greater than BP officials led all to believe as the estimates have kept increasing with each pronouncement of company and government officials.

Live feeds from remotely operated vehicles (ROV) can be downloaded at this BP link

The consequences of this environmental disaster exceed any meaning the word tragic conveys, considering the number of affected human lives and the likely alterations for generations to come. Is it too much to expect that maybe – just maybe in the future.....

– responsible individuals will enforce established regulations at official governmental regulatory levels, in the financial world, and at corporations?

– elected officials representing the people will enact legislation to insure there are no loopholes enabling others to escape their legal, moral and ethical responsibilities?

- consumers can be confident in the quality and safety of products?

– voters will scrutinize the actions of those we elect to determine who acts on our behalf and who doesn’t, then vote accordingly?

What do you think?


  1. I think, unfortunately, it is too much to expect, so we have to legislate to make all those things happen - or be punishable. And yes, we do have to see that elected officials support the public good - or out they go.

  2. Well said!!!! I'm delighted to see you back in the Land of Blog!!!!! Your wisdom and sense has been missed, my friend!!!!!!

  3. My that was quite a piece! I found myself saying 'yes' frequently while reading the post. One major flaw in our judicial system is that corporations are viewed as individuals. In our society individuals are moral. And consequently they make moral decisions. But,in my view, corporations are amoral. When their board of directors and senior executives make decisions they make them through the lens of what is good (not right or wrong) for the firm. They leave their personal morals at the door and pick them up on the way home.

    Regarding Federal regulations, we need effective and enforceable ones. Weak and nonexistent regulations and lack of enforcement have been linked to every major national problem we have had in the last few years.

    Glad you're back writing.

  4. Kenju: Yes, it is too bad we have to legislate so much. Do we ever remove old laws we've passed that aren't applicable any more, or does someone just decide to not enforce them?

    Kay: Appreciate your enthusiastic response.

    Bob: You hit the nail on the head -- individual morality vs corporate amorality. I have a theory about some of the reasons for that difference though expect wiser heads than mine have voiced similar ideas in more eloquent words.

  5. I agree with bob.

    Would love o hear more about it.