A Pirate Looks at BP…

Now that British Petroleum has told Jimmy Buffett what to do with his cheeseburger, I can’t help but revisit the topic of my original post “Margaritaville, Money and Other Disasters”.

My previous thoughts were in response to my ownconflict about have’s and have not’s in context of Larry Gross’ cautious consideration of Jimmy Buffett as “corporate” (“Wastin’ Away Again in OILY Margaritaville”). I concluded with my own observation that yeah, maybe Jimmy is “corporate”; but while corporations like BP use their money and power to recklessly endanger US coastline communities in pursuit of more money, Buffett uses his money and power as a potent environmental activist. My point was to question what the rest of us are doing with whatever money and power we have beside wagging our heads at the news footage?

Now in the wake of BP forbidding environmental workers from saving endangered sea turtles (read my post “Chump Change”), Jimmy Buffett has been forbidden by BP to rescue wildlife (www.examiner.com)!

Hey Glenn Beck! You watch the headlines run across the ticker: BP shuts down sea turtle operation, BP shuts down flat-boat operation, etc. Why is it that the same British corporation that has destroyed U. S. coastline has the power to tell American citizens what not to do on their own land? Has the power to prevent us from saving our own land? Stick that up on your board and explain it.

Look, corporations dominate the world with arguably more power than governments and more influence than your vote. What makes the international power of corporations so very concerning is not only that these international giants possess no other morality than the biggest bang for their buck but also that we trust them. You do. Your government does.

Syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington recently described Obama as having “a reverence for establishments. You know, the Wall Street establishment. The military establishment. The BP establishment…” (www.huffingtonpost.com).

The result: 2.5 million gallons of oil leaking every day.

As Summer Burkes put it, “O, Death. Of the Gulf. And maybe us.”

But before we get all righteous, we trust corporations as well. We feel completely at ease with McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks. We buy clothes, food, dairy, bottled water, even gasoline with an implicit trust that industry would not cause harm to people or else the government would stop them. And with  plenty of historical evidence to the contrary. But while we may want to trust our healthcare to such amoral giants, it is apparent from the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that in pursuit of the almighty dollar, corporations will run roughshod over your wellbeing and quality of life. And if Tony Hayward is any indication, without so much as convincing remorse. According to Alabama Attorney General, BP has even tried to limit their own liability by paying off coastal residents (previously reported on AOL news, now available at blog.al.com).

Such shenanigans by corporations do tend to cast certain suspicion on other franchises like Jimmy Buffett. There are even allegations of scandal surrounding the free benefit concert that Jimmy is hosting in Gulf Shores (www.examiner.com), postponed for Hurricane Alex. On the other hand, he threw a benefit concert in Gulf Shores (www.pnj.com).

What did you do about it?

He certainly chimed in with the rest of us, calling the spill “an environmental disaster that nobody asked for. I’m not satisfied with the way that BP has handled anything. I am pissed off, but what are you going to do about it?” (www2.tbo.com) Well, what Jimmy did about it was help support the donation of boats to environmental workers along the Gulf coastline (www.examiner.com).

And you?

In an interview with Harry Smith of CBS, Jimmy’s sister Lucy Buffett said the message from the ocean is, “‘I’ll be fine, you all need to take care of each other'” (www.cbsnews.com).

We do need to take care of each other.

This July 4th Weekend, as you celebrate your Independence Day with “’Over 21′ Independence Day Jello-Shots” , remember that this nation was founded on a healthy distrust of government and on real accountability. Russian spy rings be damned, today there’s a new bully on the block that presents a much greater harm to you and I. We face our own deathly hallows. We will always have corporations like BP with us… for a long while, anyway. So let’s stand together with some healthy distrust of corporations. Let’s give credit to whom credit is due. Let’s recognize those who in a real way use their money and power to benefit the communities around them. And let’s hold those like BP whose money and power harms communities accountable. A government of the people and by the people.

As of this writing, a Senate committee determined that we should change the current legislation, which limits the amount to which oil companies like BP can be held liable for damages (read more at www.reuters.com).

That’d be a start.