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CA Governor Candidate Alexander, SPUSA: BP Oil Spill a Crime not a Disaster
by William Wharton
Thursday May 13th, 2010 10:17 AM
The explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig that released millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico has been called a “Disaster” by many. It isn’t a disaster. It is a crime.
A Socialist Party USA Statement

By William Wharton

May 13, 2010

Language matters, especially at times of crisis. The explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig that released millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico has been called a “Disaster” by many. It isn’t a disaster. It is a crime. Early estimates are that the spill will cost more than $14 billion to clean, will devastate local fisheries for generations and will result in untold damage to all parts of the ecology in the Gulf region. Corporations are the criminals here – British Petroleum (BP) and, a company that is no stranger to corporate crime, Haliburton. This massive spill highlights both the need for an immediate transition to clean energy sources and the need to apply democratic controls to inherently criminal multinational corporations.

The cleanup of the area must begin immediately; it must be conducted with the consultation and best interest of local fishermen and environmentalists and it must be entirely paid for by BP. In addition, BP should be made to pay into a public fund that would be used for the continued cleanup and preservation of the local ecology. Any failure to meet these demands should result in the seizure of the US holdings of BP and its banning from conducting business in this country. Anything less than this should be considered as a betrayal to the best interests of residents of the region and the broader international community.

This massive oil spill demonstrates the urgent need to transition to clean renewable energy forms. Such a transition will not likely take place inside of a capitalist system where short-term profiteering dominates the allocation of capital funds. BP has fought the federal government on safety procedures that might have minimized the impact of the most recent spill for more than a decade. CEOs do not get bonuses based upon ensuring future generation’s access to resources, clean air, or hospitable climate. The purpose of corporations is not to oversee the welfare of the people of the world, but to make money. Environmental damage is not factored into the corporate calculations of cost and profits. Instead, environmental damage is viewed as the collateral damage of the free market in operation.

Not surprisingly, BP had a partner in this crime – Halliburton. Fresh off their stint bilking US taxpayers during the war in Iraq, the company was contracted by BP to cement the drill, oil well and pipe into the ocean floor. The Los Angeles Times reports that this task was completed in a mere 20 hours before the well exploded. Not surprisingly, Halliburton has also been accused of being responsible for another oil spill in the Timor Sea last August after completing a similar cementing job. Here we see the logic of capitalism in full display. BP wants to take the cheapest bid for the job and Halliburton wants to pocket the most money with the least costs. All with no mind paid to the environment, local fishermen, or the future of the planet.

Meanwhile, politicians from the Democratic and Republican parties serve as willing accomplices to the corporations. In 2008, the McCain/Palin ticket was run on the suicidal slogan of “Drill Baby Drill!” The campaign of now President Barack Obama softly dismissed these claims, but once in office, designed a plan to allow oil exploration off the coastlines of North America. The current spill exposes the bankruptcy of Obama’s drilling plan and the futility of his cap-and-trade market based proposals to address carbon emissions. Corporations will continue to pollute the environment as long as they have political partners who will allow them to evade the desires of the vast majority of people in this country for clean energy and a safe environment.

The Socialist Party USA offers a clear eco-socialist alternative to the proposals of the two parties. By establishing a system of public ownership and democratic control over our natural resources, we will ensure that corporations are prevented from exploiting and spoiling our environment. By creating strong enforceable laws regarding endangered species that focus on habitat-centered protection, we propose to begin repairing the damage done by capitalist production. Finally, we intend to bring the United States back into line with the world by signing on to international environmental treaties and participating and supporting grassroots environmental justice efforts. In short, our goal is to create a cleaner, more democratic future where environmental preservation, instead of profit motive, becomes a primary part of economic decision-making.

Capitalist profit-motive will be the death of our planet. Democratic socialism, operating on an international basis, can save our fragile ecosystem and our health by defending the rights of future generations to clean water, clean air and a democratically run society.

Check out the Socialist Party USA:

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by wsws
Sunday May 16th, 2010 10:54 AM
Here's a better analysis from the World Socialist Website:

Obama’s “anger and frustration” at the BP oil spill
15 May 2010

The US media informed the public Thursday night that President Barack Obama was going to express his “anger and frustration” over the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico during a statement to reporters at noon Friday in the White House Rose Garden. White House officials described him as “beyond livid” about the spill and BP’s inability to stop it.

Right on schedule, in the second paragraph of his prepared comments on Friday, Obama explained that he had seen firsthand “the anger and frustration” of the population in the Gulf, “And let me tell you, it is an anger and frustration that I share as President.”

This has become Obama’s standard operating procedure. In late January 2010, at a press briefing, Obama “furiously slammed Wall Street titans who raked in billions in bonuses” (Associated Press). His press secretary Robert Gibbs let it be known that “the president shares the American people’s outrage on this.” Of course, the bonuses were paid anyway, and a Wall Street analyst understandingly remarked, “It’s good politics for him to say that.”

In March 2009 Obama came forward in public to express “dismay and anger” over the massive bonuses for executives at AIG, which had received $173 billion in US government bailouts in the previous six months. “I don’t want to quell anger—I think people are right to be angry. I am angry.”

And so forth.

One cynical commentator noted Friday that a news item headlined “Angry Obama Expected Tomorrow” reminded him of “a weather forecast.” Yes, only the weather is far less predictable.

The Obama White House represents the interests of American big business as directly, or more directly, as any administration in history. It has helped Wall Street to vast sums from the public treasury, intervened to destroy the living standards of auto workers, escalated the brutal war in Afghanistan and continued the Bush government’s wholesale assault on democratic rights.

The instinctive response of the president to social disasters affecting large numbers of people, befitting the class character of his administration and his own history and personality, is a decided lack of interest.

At an April 30 press briefing, for example, ten days after the oilrig explosion off the coast of Louisiana, by which time the monumental dimensions of the disaster were obvious to anyone paying attention, Obama issued a perfunctory statement. He made not a single reference to the 11 workers who had died, nor to the potentially devastating ecological and economic impact of the giant oil spill.

On the contrary, he devoted the final portion of his brief comment April 30 to defending, by implication, his government’s support for offshore drilling and making clear that he continued “to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security.” As far as concern for human life and the environment went, the remarks could not even be called going through the motions.

However, as a river of oil continued to flow out of the sea bottom, threatening to become one of the worst environmental disasters in history, and as public outrage against BP swelled, it became necessary once again for the “angry Obama” to make an appearance.

Despite his weak attempt at populist bluster, Obama’s statement on Friday was a dishonest exercise in damage control, on behalf of his administration—and BP. He sowed confusion about the size of the leak, now estimated at up to 10 times what BP had claimed, claiming “since no one can get down there in person, we know there is a level of uncertainty.”

The president insisted that “our mobilization and response efforts have always been geared toward the possibility of a catastrophic event,” which is patently untrue. Mobilization and response efforts, to the extent that they are not directly under BP’s control, are principally geared toward protecting the profits and “proprietary interests” of the oil giant.

The federal agency supposed to regulate oil-drilling operations, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), under Obama as under previous administrations, is nothing more than an adjunct of the energy companies. The Center for Biological Diversity pointed out May 7 that the MMS had approved 27 new offshore projects, under the same environmental review exemption used to approve the “disastrous BP drilling” since the Deepwater Horizon explosion April 20. This exposes Obama’s lie Friday that he is ending the “cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill.”

Everything about Obama’s Rose Garden appearance had a false and ritualistic quality. The population now knows what to expect when the president wants to be seen as upset by, and sharing their feelings about the latest outrage committed by America’s corporate elite. He puts on a somber face, lowers his voice, speaks deliberately, and pretends, briefly, to care about the public welfare.

Harsh reality has a way of making itself felt, and this act is wearing thin. A small army of liberal and left-liberal apologists is on hand, however, to try and shore up illusions in the Democratic Party and Obama.

After each of the administration’s reactionary policy decisions or abject capitulations to the extreme right, the Nation magazine, for example, tells its readers that a defining moment has now arrived, when the Obama administration must make up its mind, once and for all, whether it stands with the American people or the corporate elite.

Typically, in regard to the present crisis, the Nation’s editors write: “The BP disaster … represents not just an ecological nightmare but a moral crisis—and an opportunity for all who care about the environment to regain the offensive, to put all politicians, including President Obama, on the spot and to demand that we move in a fundamentally new direction.” As though the character of the Obama administration were an open question and susceptible to change under popular pressure.

Decades of privatization, deregulation, propaganda about the wonders of the free market, as well as the accumulated greed and recklessness of the ruling elite that has emerged out of the socioeconomic and ideological conditions of the whole past period, made the BP oil spill, or something similar, inevitable. As far as the American financial aristocracy is concerned, the global population and the physical resources of the planet are nothing but the ingredients out of which its enormous wealth is made.

Obama and his entourage appear to think they have a magical power to allay popular discontent with the public relations equivalent of a wave of a wand. All the president has to do, according to their conception, is assume the proper persona, offer a convincing rationalization, tell the suitable lie, and the American people will fall in line.

To the extent that the ruling elite mistakes the lack of organized opposition to its atrocities—due to the worthlessness of the trade unions and official liberalism—for a lack of popular opposition, it makes a serious miscalculation. The population seethes with anger; it can’t wait for something to happen. A great deal of confusion, of course, exists as to what that should be.

It is the job of socialists to patiently explain the implications of the present social and economic crisis and spell out the alternative. The working population faces one catastrophe after another—industrial, financial, military or ecological—until it puts an end to the anarchic, outdated, irrational profit system.

David Walsh
by BP should LEAVE the U.S.!!
Friday Jun 4th, 2010 12:49 PM
David Walsh wrote in comment;

"It is the job of socialists to patiently explain the implications of the present social and economic crisis and spell out the alternative. The working population faces one catastrophe after another—industrial, financial, military or ecological—until it puts an end to the anarchic, outdated, irrational profit system."

Sorry, calling BP's capitalist disaster "anarchic" is not accurate. The anarchist community works hard to avoid consuming petroleum, so calling the CAPITALIST corporate pollution caused by BP a form of anarchy is worth a rebuttal. This disaster is the result of decades of behind the scenes manipulation of the MMS by BP and other oil corporations trying to reduce the standards of saftey needed to shut off a well. This happened under the GW bush regime, when the safety emergency shut off could have been mandated but was not, that is why this happened!!

While i would agree with the wsws on many points, trying to compare rampant capitalism of deep water drilling by corporations to an anarchic free state envisioned by anarchists is not fair!! We don't want to nitpick on word choices, though we always catch the socialists trying to frame the root word anarchy by comparing it with rampant capitalism! Anarchist values of mutual aid and symbiosis with the ecosystem does NOT include deep water drilling (especially when the buffons who engage in drilling don't have a fucking clue how to shut the damn well off!!)

Instead of following the lead of the "Sieze BP" folks (really ANSWER), my campaign would be "BP LEAVE!!" They should close down their pumping stations, pack their bags and head back to Britain!!

Nothing against British people, but this BP is an invading corporation more like pirates than stewards of the ecosystem. Once they plunder the wealth of the submerged oil reserves of the Gulf Coast, they will be packing up and leaving anyway. So now they got their ticket home a bit sooner thanks to the mess they created. We can encourage them to leave sooner by shutting down each and every BP gas station throughout the U.S.

We will send BP the bill for clean up? Can BP cover the costs of the disaster they've created without filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy??

Another megacorporation too big to fail? Is Obama going easy on BP with the clean up costs because he fears they will go bankrupt? Are taxpayers footing the clean-up bill while CEO Tony Hayward makes his retirement (escape) plans following the eventual bankruptcy of BP? He did say he wants to "get back to his life."

Getting back to your life Mr. Hayward, when you've ruined the lives of so many others with your recklessness and lack of foresight? Who ever thought it was a good idea to drill a well 5,000 feet below sea level without having a fucking clue how to shut the damn thing off??

There will be no place on Earth safe for Mr. Hayward if he tries to escape his role as person most responsible for this ecological disaster! We will hunt Mr. Hayward to the ends of Earth if he tries to get away with this!!
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