Monday, June 14, 2010

Obama & BP Escrow

The president will finally bestir himself to make a speech from the Oval Office on 15 June. Presidents set up their teleprompters there when an event has become so important that a speech concerning it from any other location would be…well, too ordinary. The oil-spill in the Gulf is such an event, never mind that such events as impending national bankruptcy and the need for stimulus spending and more stimulus spending, not to mention two wars, have not qualified.

The big news is that the president has convened the best brains in the land to inform him of just whose ass has to be kicked in order to take care of this situation. Most likely, especially after he’s already kicked Mines/Minerals Chief Birnbaum under the bus and doesn’t dare do such a thing to an ethnic (kicking a woman was bad enough) or anyone in the White House, the possessors of superior gravitas have suggested he kick BP’s ass. This exercise is likely the subject of the Tuesday speech, quite overdue since the prez rarely loses a day in speech-making.

The president, on the basis of the poop floating around, will make the case for legally compelling BP to create an escrow account to take care of all the folks aggrieved by the widespread damage caused especially in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida (other states may be added), something BP has already promised to do, not that the promise is to be taken at face value any more than Obama’s promise to close Gitmo by last January should.

The president may have overlooked the fact, since the spill has not been contained, that there’s no way to fix an amount to be placed in legal escrow. Set too low, it may not satisfy the losses but would represent a cap in BP’s favor. Set too high, especially since BP stock has dropped in value by nearly half since the catastrophe, BP could be thrown into bankruptcy, the result being that everyone loses.

It is this last possibility that requires a second look. The administration has taken over General Motors and driven it into bankruptcy. Likewise, or similarly, is the case with Chrysler, AIG, Fannie, Freddy. BP is principally owned in almost equal amounts by individuals and institutions in the U.K. and the U.S., meaning that Obama is railing against Americans as much as he is against BP.

As of 31 December 2009, 33 institutions and seven individuals in Britain held 40% of BP shares, while 25 institutions and 14 individuals in the U.S held 39 %. BP is Britain’s largest corporation. So…is Obama following his own pattern in taking yet another U.S. enterprise into bankruptcy, this time via the escrow route? Is he purposefully threatening to destroy another sterling example of entrepreneurship and enterprise in the interest of…what?

There’s no argument with the fact that all these people and institutions should be compensated, though the records of well-inspections done – or not done – during the year-and-a-half of Obama’s tenure should be examined in affixing total blame, notwithstanding that the U.S. is surviving on money borrowed from such places as China right now and can ill afford any more debt.

The president, after much speech-making (and sleep, apparently) since the explosion of 20 April, is now exercising a stridency that intensifies every day. Nobody in the administration, not to mention BP, seems to have an idea of how much oil has spilled, not that it matters since nobody has been able to stop the flow anyway, though BP has cut the amount considerably with the last apparatus to be tried. Foot-stomping is a way of life in the administration these days.

The president promised CHANGE and TRANSFORMATION and TRANSPARENCY in government, but the only change and transformation discernible so far would put the country on the road (actually fast-track) to socialism. The sinking of the American end of BP would simply fit the pattern of outlawing capitalism as economic engine, ironically the engine that has driven this nation to the heights industrially and militarily, far exceeding those of any other nation.

As for transparency…fugiddaboutit! From attempting to deny Senator Burris his (Obama’s) own seat to attempting to bribe office-seekers not to seek office, the smoke-filled backroom is back in vogue. Obama fired Birnbaum, essentially a lawyer he appointed, and that’s quite transparent enough…huh?

And so it goes.
Jim Clark