Halliburton & BP - Is it time for the Corporate Death Penalty?

President Barack Obama pretty much stated the obvious when he called the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico “a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.”

The oil well pouring a river of crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn't have the normal type of remote-control shut-off switch used in Norway and the UK as last-resort protection against underwater spills, largely because the oil companies themselves are responsible for "voluntary" compliance with safety and environmental standards.

It was in 1994, two years into the Clinton administration, when this practice of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse was legalized, about the same time George W. Bush was doing the same thing in Texas, a program pushed hard in the previous administration by Dan Quayle's so-called "competitiveness council" charged with deregulating industry.

The accident has led to one of the largest ever oil spills in U.S. water and the loss of 11 lives. Voluntary safety for oil wells, but you and I can get stopped by the police if we don't fasten our safety belts? Eleven people have died because Halliburton and BP wanted to save money. In the first hundred years of this republic it was commonplace for rogue corporations to get the corporate death penalty - being shut down, dissolved, and having their assets sold off. Through the 19th century, it averaged around 2000 companies a year that got the axe.

If the Supreme Court now says that corporations are people - and they did - then these corporations should be eligible for the corporate death penalty.

Time to break up and sell off the pieces of Halliburton and British Petroleum.


JohnE's picture
JohnE 14 years 7 weeks ago

As always, Thom... you hit the nail right on the head.

dstierm 14 years 7 weeks ago

The Los Angeles Times ran a story about http://www.skytruth.org/ and their mapping the spill using satellite images. But perhaps the most interesting story on their home page today is how severely oil and gas development has impacted wildlife in the Upper Green River (Wyoming). The many roads and drilling pads have disrupted migrations. This provides a clear example of what will happen if drilling is allowed in ANWR. Old plans with the BLM and National Forest Service called for only a few roads and pads, but there is apparently no will in either Federal agency to stem the spread of the production footprint.

straightawaykid 14 years 7 weeks ago

Thom, you asked last week I think where was Haliburton in this debacle? Well, (humor intended) Schlumberger, 2nd largest oil services next to big Hal, spun off it's deep sea well operator Transocean as a separate company in 1999. Schlumberger was started by two French brothers, and of course it is incorporated in Netherland Antilles. I think Transocean is HQd in Switzerland, another country that protects corporations. It's time for the death penalty for BP and Transocean, I see the head of BP says it's not his fault today (yes, it IS!).

hgovernick's picture
hgovernick 14 years 7 weeks ago

Thom -

what is the destination of the oil which would have been and may still be produced from this particular well?

i'm asking this question because certain people we've seen in the news for the past couple of years (at least) have used the phrase "drill baby drill" to give the impression that drilling offshore is going to help US overcome our dependence on foreign oil..

all those who have been urgently advocating offshore drilling to help us get off our dependence of foreign oil need to explain why it is that the oil produced by these offshore rigs are not mandated for u.s. markets, and can be sold anywhere, e.g. japan and china, to the highest bidder...

do we allow foreigners to drill offshore, ignoring safety precautions which result in destroying our southern coastline (even more than mother nature has done), putting thousands out of work indefinitely and permanently, killing untold thousands of creatures in the wildlife kingdom, destroying 25% of our wetlands (early esitmate)... while letting the oil go to japan and china, not here?

isn't this equivalent to damage caused by war?

tedkelly's picture
tedkelly 14 years 7 weeks ago

A friend on Facebook made the comment: "All of the people who were chanting drill-baby-drill must report immediately to the Gulf for cleanup duty."

erble's picture
erble 14 years 7 weeks ago

$75 million cap on liability? For years retailers have said "You break it, you bought it!" BP should voluntarily pay all clean up costs and damages or forfiet all US holdings and the privelege of conducting any business in US territory. If all corporations were held fully responsible caution and safety would make economic sense

Julie Dahlman's picture
Julie Dahlman 14 years 7 weeks ago

For some reason my obsession as it has been for awhile is leveraged buyouts, equity investment firms buying most of the time old i.e. profitable corporations that make things, and then equity firms gut them and resell making millions by selling to another investment firm who again guts i.e. lays off workers, raise prices of products, pays equity investors more money, add more debt to company, equity investment company sells for more millions to another investment company, and maybe after four sales and millions made by investment firms, the company has to file for bankruptcy.

This has been going on since the 80's and is still going on. NBC/Comcast - is that a leverage buyout? now Centruy Tel/QWest is that a leveraged buyout? Now, these two companies are part of the 21st century infrastructure and public airways which really aren't public anymore, thank you Clinton. CH2M here in Oregon was bought out by equity firm a few months back and there were layoffs.

While paying attention to this over the last 30 years, details of what I've read is not still in my boomer brain, I have come to the conclusion: This is one of the major causes of what has driven up prices of everything. We use to talk about projects in the thousands, then millions, then billions and now trillions. You see reports of companies selling for $x and then 3 years later selling for $xxx and then again in a few years for $xxxxxxxx, my backing and knowledge of business practices and accounting does not accept that these firms could of grown that fast to be worth that much more??

Profitable US firms have been gutted, American workers loose jobs, prices of products go up and investment bankers get rich. America manufacturing has been gutted by this practice as well as by outsourcing.

These banksters (financial terrorist) need to be called out on this more. I've read John Kennedy Jr. and Matt Taibbi and Thom you've spoken of this before and I'm sure others I don't remember but these banksters are only helping themselves to Americas wealth which was our value of productivity.

I would love to hear/read a rant on this by you Thom and or Louise. You guys are my rock.

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