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The Mighty Have Fallen

Entry 1198, on 2010-06-11 at 18:42:08 (Rating 4, News)

BP is one of the world's biggest corporations yet several commentators are now saying it could be soon bankrupt after the debacle of the oil leak in the Gulf. How can this happen? How can just one mistake cause the whole mighty edifice to crumble? It's simple really: the whole corporate system is totally corrupt (according to multiple meanings of the word) and it doesn't take much for that corruption to lead to catastrophic failure.

The banks which have recently failed in the US and Europe were just as corrupt (probably more so) but they were saved by government hand outs. I'm not sure whether BP will get similar charity because the disaster and most of the financial activity is happening in the US and BP is a British based company. I suspect the Americans would be more generous if BP was American but there's no way to know for sure.

So what do I mean when I say BP is corrupt? Well first I have got to say that I have no reason to think that it's any more corrupt than other companies of a similar size. Basically most companies become successful by using dirty tricks, corrupt business deals, and barely legal political persuasion (effectively bribes) so it's probably more through bad luck than anything else that it's BP which has lost out in this particular case.

After reading through the reports on what has caused this and other disasters it seems to stem back to the one factor which above all is essential for successful business: greed. BP have systematically taken shortcuts to minimise costs on several projects. These have been allowed by the agencies who should be checking that the safeguards are in place because of political interference or pure incompetence. And many people have died as a result. But BP's profits have steadily increased and what else matters to the corporations?

Yes, this is really another anti-capitalism, anti-free market, anti-corporate rant! I don't apologise for that because I think corporations are responsible for most of the problems we have in the world today. I also recognise that corporations often efficiently produce the goods and services the modern world wants so the question naturally becomes: is there a reasonable alternative?

I commented in another blog entry ("Too Big to Fail?" on 2010-06-01) that I think there should be an upper limit on how big companies can get. If they can't get too big to fail then bail outs won't be necessary. And if there are many smaller companies instead of a few big ones then there will be more competition and less repression of new ideas.

As I have said many times before I have no trust in the free market and competition is often not the best answer. But realistically we aren't going to abandon capitalism any time soon so the next best thing is to optimise the way it works.

Abandoning the corporate model seems like a good first step. Smaller companies would not be bribing political leaders like the big ones do now. There would be more competition amongst smaller companies. And there might be a slight reduction in efficiency but I think that would lead to greater employment and an overall increase in standards for most people. It might even lead to a reversal of the recent trend of the rich-poor gap increasing.

I think there is growing support for tough action against corporations. I have seen several articles in reasonably mainstream sources calling for severe action against BP. The proposals include:

1. Make BP pay and pay and pay (raise their federal civil liability limit to $10 billion).
2. Void all its government contracts (already being considered).
3. Kill the company (America already shuts down rogue companies).
4. Boycott BP, far and wide (a consumer rebellion against BP brands).
5. Throw the executives in jail (for involuntary manslaughter of the 11 workers).
6. Execute CEO Tony Hayward (they do it in China, so why not?).

These may seem rather extreme (and some of them are!) but the EPA was already deciding whether to declare BP ineligible for US government contracts because of four separate cases of criminal conduct in the past decade (yes, that's criminal conduct, not just poor decisions or dodgy accounting).

The problem is that, as I said above, BP has got into this situation as much through simple bad luck as anything else. I have no doubt that many other companies take just as many shortcuts and are just as evil as BP but maybe this is an opportunity to make an example of one to act as a warning to others.

One thing seems clear to me: after the numerous corporate debacles recently I think most people can now see that the world of big business is nothing to admire and aspire to joining. Unless, that is, you are a true capitalist and death, destruction and total lack of morality is just the price you are prepared to pay for more profit.

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Comment 37 (2784) by OJB on 2010-08-09 at 10:31:24: (view earlier comments)

Typical. You avoid the question and instead of answering my reasonable points you try to deflect the questIon back onto me!

I have already stated in multiple posts that both the church and capitalism have some positive points but I think there are a lot of negatives as well. Until people like you concede these negatives are significant nothing will improve.

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Comment 38 (2795) by SBFL on 2010-08-11 at 08:41:12:

So capitalism is only evil. That's what you're saying. Giving away wealth to those in need, wealth gained via a society that embraces capitalism/free market. Sorry OJB, but you just can't have it both ways. I am not avoiding at all, only clearly pointing out that you have a one track mind on this issue.

If true they are few and far between and littered with conditions and exceptions no doubt. In my view capitalism is indeed the best from as an economic model, though like any system, it is not without its hitches. But it is the best. Again I ask, name one better. On the Church, there is no doubt that man (incl Popes) have failed to live up to the values it promotes. History has shown this time and time again. But the failure of a few does not diminish the outstanding and admirable work of the many. By the many I am referring to those who care, educate, nuture and feed (without need for monetary compensation). Those who follow in the footsteps of the Son of God. And then there are those ordinary folk who try to live their lives through more modest - yet no less admirable - achievements, also in the footsteps of Jesus. However those who profess to speak in God's name - yet fail to show this by actions - receive the same condemnation from me that you would give them.

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Comment 39 (2800) by OJB on 2010-08-11 at 10:25:42:

What are you talking about? Where have I said that capitalism is only evil? Nowhere. please stick to what I am saying instead of some straw man of your own invention.

So we both agree that the church and capitalism have both good and bad points. I guess it gets down to where the balance between good and bad actually lies then.

I have said in many posts that capitalism is probably the best of a series of bad options but I want to see it more tightly controlled and directed in positive directions. As far as the church is concerned I think it is very clear: the evil far outweighs the good. You can drivel on about some silly myth about the son of a god as much as you like but I prefer to stick to the facts.

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Comment 40 (2802) by SBFL on 2010-08-11 at 11:25:22:

As I said, you ignore the benefits. Up to you.

I don't put both in the same boat. Capitalism is the best economic system, but it has flaws. If you fail to offer better system then you need to put up and shut up. If you do indeed think it is the best (albeit of a bad bunch) then you really need to focus on how to improve it, rather then attempting to tear it down.

The path of Jesus is the only way, there is no compromise to this. Sinners (like me) need to find their way back to this path. It that's simple. You choose not to believe. Okay, your choice.

and as a result of your bias, you choose to ignore the good. Here is a link to the order who run the parish that I go to in Madrid (in English). Shock! Horror! Those evil Catholics!

You may not believe in their faith, but do you disbelieve their actions?

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Comment 41 (2805) by OJB on 2010-08-11 at 13:39:24:

I don't ignore the benefits at all. I have said on many occasions: its a matter of balance.

I have siad many times that I can't think of a better system and have proposed a form of capitalism with tighter controls and a greater sense of long term direction. We do need to be very aware of the faults though and its that awareness I'm trying to increase.

What a load of superstitious, primitive nonsense. If you want to believe that junk then good luck to you!

Difficult to say how positive their impact might be based on that web page. Maybe they do some good in the community (probably do), but is it enough to overcome the genocide, child abuse, and other atrocities the church is responsible for? I doubt it. Again, its all about balance.

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