Are We Supposed to Be Sympthetic?

So, this giant oil spill has cost BP $350 million and counting. That sure is terrible. Especially while it is also touting its profits to investors. That would be profits in the neighborhood of $5.6 billion. Forgive me if I’m not shedding any tears over them having to shell out what for them amounts to chump change to contain a mess they themselves made. Perhaps in the long run, this spill in the gulf will turn out to be a good thing. Sure, the environmental damage is likely to be incalculable. But the bottom line is hard to ignore. Making the cost of screwing up really hurt might just insure against the risky behavior that led to this spill. Might.

From a business standpoint (that would be the one that doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about the environmental or health costs associated with Big Oil), I’m sure some management is kicking themselves that a $500,000 acoustic shut-off valve was left off the rig because it cost too much. Seen in hindsight, weighing half a mil vs. a third of a billion is a business calculation that even I could make.

I don’t really harbor any illusions that this disaster will actually change any minds in the oil industry. As the current Republican argument goes (proffered here by David “I Sure Am A Popular Republican Black Sheep Now” Frum) it may be expensive but we have to keep it up because it’s still cheaper than changing how we do things. I wonder how much cheaper it would be if the “experts” had any idea what to do about an accident? What’s more likely is that the spill will eventually be contained, the sludge will wash up on shorelines across the gulf, millions more will be spent on some semblance of cleanup, and we’ll continue on our merry way, driving our cars two blocks and bitching about the price of gas.

Is this a great country or what?

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