BP performance: Fund and games

The contemptuous disregard for minimal safety procedures was brought on by pressure from the very top of the company. It was the never-ending demand to minimize expenses and maximize profits, which borders on criminal negligence. In fact, it crosses the line and serious consideration has to be given to the prosecution of those responsible, from top to bottom.

While we're at it, BP, lose the ads. We don't need those absurd attempts to depict recovery efforts as some benign corporate act. That's not image-making, that's image-faking.

For that matter, we would probably be better off without any from the energy industry. Those commercials we see that present Big Oil as protecting our interests are nothing more than propaganda disguising campaigns that try and ratchet up opposition to new taxes on the industry and the obscene income its gets because of its stranglehold on all of us. It is, after all, a cartel that feeds our addiction to oil and gasoline,

The industry can save a lot of money, so why doesn't it simply control the law the old-fashioned way: by bribing politicians with campaign contributions and threatening them if they don't, uh, rig things?

Let's face it: Their conduct is so egregious they've even made President Obama mad. So now BP executives had to do a perp walk where cameras could show them trudging into the White House to ratify their new fund.

It's paid for by cutting out dividends to stockholders. Of course it is. So many of them are small-time investors who count on the dividends for much of their income. A lot of pensioners are now going to do without, just like all those people in the Gulf, the ones the company chairman called the "small people." Now we know why he's so reclusive.

If you believe that he and other top management are going to suffer any loss of compensation, I have some land to sell you a mile below the water. First, though, I should refer you to the bankers and Wall Street titans, who are still rolling in obscene salaries, stock options and bonuses.

What's important now is to watch BP very closely and be prepared for backsliding on the promises to "make things right.” That's an act, a BP performance. Its leaders know full well that once they finally cap the gusher, assuming they finally do, the gush of bad publicity will also be plugged and our attention will shift to the next outrage.

That's when they can start their reneging on promises and using legal obstructions to keep things wrong. We cannot cut them any slack. If we do, they will slack off.

When it comes to that compensation account, we can expect fund and games. We'll be damned lucky if the money reaches the innocents who deserve it before their hopes for the future are beyond recovery, beyond any chance to "make things right."

If you ever wonder about these random acts of unkindness toward so many corporations it's because they have demonstrated a callous disregard for those with whom they share an economy, sometimes a murderous disregard.

It's time, way past time, we begin to put a stop to their malicious conduct. We need to start with the stop right away.


Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.