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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12967/boycott-bp/

Boycott BP?

June 14, 2010 by

On Reddit, some concerned soul pointed out that, “Boycotting BP hurts the local station owner a lot more than BP corporate,” citing a NPR story.

Of course, most BP boycotters would be pained to realize that it also would likely hurt the Gulf clean-up itself.

As I pointed out in the comments, if a firm’s share price drops, it has greater difficulty raising capital. If it has greater difficulty raising capital, it is less able to fund expensive projects, like the gulf clean-up.

And yes they had billions in profit last year, but that is no panacea. Besides whatever damages BP will have to pay, they also have to clean up a portion of the earth that is visible from space. Somehow I doubt financially crippling BP would help that endeavor.

{ 33 comments }

michael June 14, 2010 at 8:19 pm

BP has been by far the most irresponsible of all the oil majors. “OSHA statistics show BP ran up 760 “egregious, willful” safety violations, while Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips each had eight, Citgo had two and Exxon had one comparable citation.” (news clipping)

The appropriate thing would be to send a message to the industry. Spend down their capital in claim payouts until they enter bankruptcy, never to emerge. Once BP is gone forever, the USG can pay the rest of the claims, lodging them as a permanent lien against the very idea of a British Petroleum– and perform whatever cleanup they are able to implement.

More important than making BP pay and pay for a while and then allow them to resume operation as usual, is to use them to illustrate to other producers that we can not let such assaults on nature happen even once. In other words capital punishment. Are corporations not persons?

if they can’t learn that, they can’t drill. Period.

mr taco June 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm

i suggest the forum here
you can post your stuff there and it will be less of a burden
searching through the blogs
its free too

michael June 15, 2010 at 9:27 am

The topic was on whether or not one should boycott BP. I believe my comment was within those parameters.

However we’ve missed the point of your bon mot. You neglected to give us the address of the forum you were pointing me to. And I’d like to share in your round of laughter. Please post it.

The Kid Salami June 15, 2010 at 9:42 am

Michael is just a blowhard. He has spewed his teenage-level-of-sophistication rants on many threads, leaving on each a trail of unanswered questions and evasions before moving to the next with the same tired arguments and pointless references to himself.

He accused me of being “obtuse” because I requested something he clearly couldn’t do – that is, define money for the purposes of a debate. We have given him every chance to debate his case – he has refused this and just wants to rant on and on. Maybe we should just ignore until he answers the questions already put to him.

mr taco June 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

http://mises.org/Community/forums/i thought you were fully capable of doing yourselfand what i meant by “here” was this website not a link

Vanmind June 14, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Doesn’t matter. Right now there is a one-world campaign of agitprop fear mongering going on by which “The People” are being encouraged to seek vengeance on that which a nascent Global State fears most: free markets. Many of “The People” whine about BP “daring” to sell the oil it has managed to recover from the spill. As this blog post implies, anti-capitalists want to make it impossible for any meaningful cleanup ever to start. It’s Act II of this Tragedy Of The Commons titled “The Sea: Nobody’s Responsible ‘Cause Everybody’s The Owner.”

newson June 14, 2010 at 9:24 pm

hence michael’s “we can not let such assaults on nature happen…”

Robert June 14, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Environmentalism is like all other stupid political ideas: a lot of empty, meaningless rhetoric that can be interpreted to justify anything. A lot of “we” this and “we” that, and talk about the earth as if it is a goddess, and capitalism a sin. Conspicuously absent is any discussion of concrete reality, logic and reason, which is a pretty good indication that the whole thing falls apart at the slightest critical analysis.

newson June 14, 2010 at 10:50 pm

eyjafjallajokull: gaia herself has got some explaining to do.

michael June 15, 2010 at 9:35 am

Guys, guys. (Newson, Robert, Vanmind et al) I’d like to point out an elephant in the room that none of you are able to see, but are all unconsciously obeying. You can’t even write the common pronoun ‘we’ without putting it in sarcastic quotes. You don’t believe in any we, nor do you trust any of the ideas that ‘we’ people have. The one thing that characterises all of you is that you assume self-interest to be the only factor worth mentioning in the entire range of human behaviors. Greed is good. Greed is natural. All other motivations are suspect.

That’s why you don’t have many friends out there. Most people would consider that to be a little creepy. We all tend to think that a Golden Rule should be heeded whenever our interests and those of others interact. And we tend to shrink from people who are (how shall I say this?) so ME-centered.

We like the environment because it is the playground in which we, as human beings, live and play. So we like to take care of it– in exactly the same way we like to take care of our own house and yard.

We don’t draw that heavy black line between MY STUFF and everything else, which is not my responsibility and which I can trash if I so desire. We differ from you in oh, so many ways.

The Kid Salami June 15, 2010 at 11:07 am

“The one thing that characterises all of you is that you assume self-interest to be the only factor worth mentioning in the entire range of human behaviors. Greed is good. Greed is natural. All other motivations are suspect.

That’s why you don’t have many friends out there. Most people would consider that to be a little creepy. We all tend to think that a Golden Rule should be heeded whenever our interests and those of others interact. And we tend to shrink from people who are (how shall I say this?) so ME-centered.”

Michael – you’re chastising poeple here for being “ME centred”. Ha-ha, good one coming from the man who, on an economics blog, makes comments like

“Done that. I’m retired now, living off the proceeds of a life that’s been productive for me, for my employees and for my customers. And fortune’s been good to me. Now that I’m idle, and a little weary, I still spin off more in dividends received than I can spend. So every December I pull out my file of all the worthwhile causes I know of, and allocate some of my excess rewards to each, in the form of a dividend to them. I find it more rewarding than sitting atop my pile of gold, marveling at its bulk and heft. BTW a lot of very rich guys have done the same, on a much larger scale. Andrew Carnegie, for instance. Giving some away didn’t hurt him. And I like to think it does a little bit of good. Would that more people felt this way!”

where he compares himself to Andrew Carneigie. Hilarious stuff.

Do yourself and everyone a favour and read the “The evolution of cooperation” by Axelrod

http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Cooperation-Robert-Axelrod/dp/0465021212

and make some effort to, you know, understand how how things actually work before saying such things as the ignorant ramblings above. (Incidentally, that book has flaws – but not on its main theme, which shows how cooperation and optimal strategies FOR ALL evolve despite and BECAUSE OF self-interest).

SirThinkALot June 15, 2010 at 3:29 pm

We don’t draw that heavy black line between MY STUFF and everything else, which is not my responsibility and which I can trash if I so desire. We differ from you in oh, so many ways.

Micheal, you’ve got the whole thing backwards.

Liberterians strongly oppose trashing property that isnt ours(or at least getting the owners permission before doing so). If I want to dump trash in my yard then I should be perfectly free to do so. But if I want to dump trash in my neighbors yard…well now we’ve got a problem.

However the Government has declared certain areas, including oceans and waterways as ‘public lands’ meaning that everybody and nobody owns them. And more importantly that nobody has responsibility for keeping it clean or cleaning up a mess if it does occur.

Robert June 15, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Michael, you are putting up a straw man. What libertarian thinks it’s okay to trash the environment? Nobody here said any such thing.

And I object to the use of the pronoun “we” where it implies my involvement or participation in something for which I never signed up. In other words, speak for yourself.

TokyoTom June 16, 2010 at 6:59 am

Michael, again well said, if a bit overstated.

Except for dunderheads, Austrians recognize that there ARE real “ecosystems” and physical and other (communities and informal institutions) commons in which we all are raised and live. And all understand that we must all contribute actively in maintaining the vitality of those communities.

It’s just that many prefer culture wars against evil enviro-fascists than honest engagement on the ways that government ownership and management of the commons favors statist corporations and leads to fights over the wheel.

More at my BP-related and other posts: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/search.aspx?q=bp

TT

Gil June 15, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Since when did government declare oceans to be public, SirThinksaBit? The oceans are unowned as far I know, not even by governments. There nothing stopping you from living in the boat in the middle of ocean and living subsistently away from all governments. If you get attack by pirates you have no resource but you own ability but still.

Guard June 15, 2010 at 12:59 am

Boycott BP, which is a corporation. The CEOs will have to retire early with their golden parachutes and the oilfield workers will have to get jobs elsewhere. That’ll teach BP a lesson!
Is it just me or does anyone else see anything irrational about anthropomorphizing a legal fantasy?

Small Soldier June 15, 2010 at 7:41 am

Excellent! Perhaps you may have had a similar experience in your “growing up,” but do you recall any encounters with the grade school extrovert who would externalize “your not my friend anymore” if he/she did not get their way? You are correct a lesson was learned (at least for me): Move along, move along, move along, nothing to see here!

Kakugo June 15, 2010 at 1:17 am

I wonder what would have happened if instead of BP we had a US oil company (Chevron, Exxon etc) involved. We would be looking at much less saber rattling; perhaps we would hear the words “hey, that was an accident. Stuff just happens”. Remember the Exxon Valdez? Exxon got away with little more than a relatively light fine and a slap on the wrist.
I wouldn’t be too surprised if the US government imposed such crushing penalities on BP (or let loose the lawsuits) as to force them to strike an “agreement”: turn over your activities to Washington DC as a payment. These activities would be then “auctioned off” to US oil companies at bargain prices.
Never let a crisis go waste.
Now if I were Shell or Citgo I would really start to watch my back.

newson June 15, 2010 at 1:49 am

obama is studying the yukos file for homework.

Martin OB June 15, 2010 at 3:11 am

I can hear the anti-environmentalist argument: “Oh, BP just changed the landscape. When a volcano erupts you don’t calll for a boycott to Nature, do you? You hate humanity!”

Now seriously, an oil spill is a destruction of property that just happens to be collectively owned by millions of people. The owners of the damaged property should get to decide whether the trespasser should be economically crippled to “teach a lesson” to others or they should be given some slack to be able to pay the full clean-up.

Abhilash Nambiar June 15, 2010 at 7:28 am

The owners of the damaged property should get to decide whether the trespasser should be economically crippled to “teach a lesson” to others or they should be given some slack to be able to pay the full clean-up.

No pun intended, but ownershipwise, the waters are murky. Because it is the ocean we are talking about here. But for the sake of simplicity let us assume that the oceans are in fact owned. Is it still a good idea to cripple BP to “teach a lesson” ? Would the owners prefer the psychic pleasure that comes with it as opposed to having their property cleaned and restored? I think not. If BP refuses to clean up the mess, then boycott makes sense. In fact then boycott is not enough.

There must be some irony here. After all an expensive cleaning bill could arrange for the situation where the oceans are recovered and BP is economically crippled. Thus the door is left open for its safer competitors. But there is no sense in boycotting them if they are cleaning things up.

michael June 15, 2010 at 9:47 am

“..there is no sense in boycotting them if they are cleaning things up.”

If they were actually doing that, there would be much less ire toward them. And in fact they’re paying for token efforts at beach cleanups, for PR purposes so they can be seen to be doing something positive. But meanwhile you might have noticed that their supposed efforts to cap the leak itself have all been fitful and useless. What they are actually doing is just trying to bring the well back on line. The only successful efforts have involved dipping another beak into the flow and sucking up a portion of the oil for sale. The rest is being let go.

They even sawed off the end of the pipe! Had they left it, a bladder could easily have been inserted in the throat, to be filled once in place. That would have stopped the outflow right there. But that approach wasn’t on the table.

Another thing is that they’ve used toxic dispersants to make the oil disappear, so to speak. Less ugly goo on the beaches, but that will in time get cleaned up by natural or human forces. Meanwhile the Gulf is full of hidden plumes of poison, each many miles across. And scientists have no way of knowing whether they’ll just stay around for years, killing all marine life. It hasn’t been done before.

For those reasons, whether or not we ever manage to clean the mess up, we can see where it came about through negligence, and that BP has responded poorly to the challenge of mitigation. So I will still vote to pursue BP down through bankruptcy, until it winks out of existence. As a warning to the others.

Abhilash Nambiar June 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

in fact they’re paying for token efforts at beach cleanups, for PR purposes so they can be seen to be doing something positive

If so it is really crappy PR. You are obviously not convinced and you are not alone.

For those reasons, whether or not we ever manage to clean the mess up, we can see where it came about through negligence, and that BP has responded poorly to the challenge of mitigation. So I will still vote to pursue BP down through bankruptcy, until it winks out of existence. As a warning to the others.

Right, and you will willingly bear the price of cleaning up the mess? Right now your complain is that their cleaning efforts are not up to your standards. So what would it be like when no one is cleaning it? That is the better solution?

So despite your claims to love marine life, you are willing to live with dirty beaches and an ocean full of stinking dead fish, the important thing to do is end BP, is it?

If you mistrust BP that much, why not find legal ways to make them to pay someone else you trust to clean up the oceans? Someone you are more confident about? Of course such an approach would mean you will have to let BP run a profitable business out of which they can bankroll the clean up efforts. But that is still not a rosy picture for BP. Money they spent on cleaning they cannot pay dividends with or use to expand their business. Consider that.

Andrew June 25, 2010 at 9:52 pm

I pretty much agree with your sentiments. No need to let BP go out of business before they clean the mess up. It’s likely they’ll have to shrink anyway as this thing is a catastrophe. But they should pay for every cent it costs to clean up.

Franklin June 15, 2010 at 11:43 am

“…whether or not we ever manage to clean the mess up….”

“We” will do nothing of the sort. At least I will not. I’m not a shareholder nor an officer nor an employee. And if you are not, then you’ll be doing absolutely nothing to clean up the mess either. More “we” nonsense. Only those above, as well as volunteers and government agents, military or otherwise, will be doing any cleaning.

Your ire get the best of you. “….I will still vote to pursue BP down through bankruptcy, until it winks out of existence. As a warning to the others.”
What is the priority, Michael? To make sure the CEO loses one of his many Summer homes or is it to recompense the victims, the actual victims, and return the property to its original state?
Interesting how the government shills cannot, for the life of them, characterize this event as a property violation, which is precisely what it is.
If the cleanup activity and the victim compensation and the criminal penalties (justified in the pain and suffering of victims) bankrupt BP, and bankrupt the CEO, then so be it. But the bankruptcy ought to be the result of them doing the “right thing.” By the way, with his umbrella policies, corporate protections and escape clauses, Tony Hayward will be sipping martinis on the Costa Rican sand long after the company is a footnote. More corporatist cover underwritten by your friendly neighborhood government.

What is the right thing? Stated above. First and foremost, the negligent party must clean up and compensate the actual (and I mean the “actual victims”) of this disaster. And that doesn’t include handing over more power to the phony bureaucrats in DC.

Walt D. June 15, 2010 at 3:31 pm

What is ironic is the Federal Government regulators gave this rig a safety award. After the Enron fiasco, Arthur Anderson, who had provided a clean bill of health, went out of business. The regulators here should go out of business. Also, the Federal Government has sabotaged the clean up, by banning skimmers from foreign companies coming into US coastal waters. There is currently a 3 mile wide 40 mile long oil slick waiting to come on shore in Florida. There is no skimmer out there picking up the oil. BP should not have to pay for the aditional mess caused by the failure of the federal government to act in a timely and decisive way. By the way, BP is a publicly traded company. The owners are pension funds, both here and in the UK, insurance companies, such as State Farm and mutual funds such as Fidelity. Punishing BP above and beyond the actual cost of the cleanup is merely a wealth transfer.

TokyoTom June 16, 2010 at 7:09 am

Walt, I agree about “punishment”, but the fact of the matter is that there is no way in hell that those injured will ever be fully compensated. The whole Gulf population risks becoming oil serfs.

While I sympathize with shareholders, it should not go unnoticed how the use of the state shields shareholders from possible legal liability and certainly severs them from moral culpability. But what are corporations for, anyway?

http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2010/05/17/persons-r-us-here-39-s-someone-39-s-interesting-thought-experiment-quot-what-if-bp-were-a-human-being-quot.aspx

Franklin June 15, 2010 at 6:45 pm

“Punishing BP above and beyond the actual cost of the cleanup is merely a wealth transfer.”
I would agree, Walt, with a caveat. The actual cost of the cleanup should include fair payment to those property owners who were negatively affected, hurt, and inconvenienced.

TokyoTom June 16, 2010 at 7:25 am

Grayson, while there’s a logic to your argument, it ignores several things – the least of which being BP’s ability to pay damages and cleanup by selling assets, the limited likelihood that BP will be held fully legally to account for this still unfolding (and masked) disaster, and the disaster fund government has already amassed from taxes.

The chief point, of course, that it is entirely understandable that many people – being humans and not corporations – are enraged by the “behavior” of the legal fiction we call “BP”. Any effective libertarian approach to this mess will expressly recognize the validity of peoples’ anger and find ways to productively channel it.

The kind of dissing that we see in some comments here of such emotions or the motivations of those injured is something that will certainly warm the cockles of a statist’s heart, but is counterprodctive and has no part in Austrian thinking.

Quite to the contrary, to avoid further statism, Austrians are calling for a chanelling of moral outrage. See Gene Callahan and Sheldon Richman here: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2010/06/16/sheldon-richman-joins-gene-callahan-in-naively-arguing-that-if-man-39-s-activities-are-responsible-for-climate-change-we-need-not-government-but-simply-louder-and-more-obnoxious-enviros.aspx

Of course, Austrians with their thinking caps on can also come up with ways to undo the damage that the current system does, and improve freedom and resource management. See, e.g., http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2010/06/09/more-by-useful-discussion-by-carson-both-on-bp-s-fate-in-a-free-market-and-on-the-inept-feckless-and-captured-regulatory-state.aspx

Sincerely,

TT

Anonymous June 16, 2010 at 10:11 am

LOL! This must be satire.

Just as statists view the lack of monopoly in government as a security-less danger, so free-market proponents make the mistake of thinking of current businesses as part of a free-market.

Zach Bibeault June 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Regardless of whether or not BP is a free-market product or a product of state intervention (I lean more toward the latter, but there is truth in both sides), Lilburne’s point is just as correct.

Daeran June 17, 2010 at 11:13 am

“BP”
“free market in any way, shape or form”

i loled

that’s the problem with libertarianism

we see any non-state entity (even if it is a defacto state entity) and we rush to defend it regardless of how evil it is

Dweebston June 20, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I don’t know that opposition to the mainstream tact toward obliterating BP, goaded on by the political entrepreneurs with their boundless moral indignation, qualifies as a defense of BP. I’d call it a rational defense of the gulf wildlife, beachfront property owners, etc., by bringing BP to task through legal injunction rather than political outrage. As a poster stated earlier, the cleanup costs and remuneration will cripple and possibly bankrupt BP. Why hamstring the company before it gets the chance?

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