Let’s assume that, like most UK workers, you have a pension fund with a substantial part of its investment in FTSE companies, usually weighted by value.
What should you care more about:
1) the fact that the US government is attempting to steal a sizeable proportion of your money?
2) some fucking cormorants?
Clue: if you picked 2, you’re an idiot.
So could British people perhaps stop ragging on BP, or pretending the Gulf of Mexico spill is some kind of serious environmental disaster that’ll actually harm people (rather than making beaches look untidy for a bit and topping some fish and birds)?
The spill will cost about $20-30bn to clear up, including compensation for those directly affected, which is a sum that BP should have no problem in paying, and which would be the fair price for them to pay.
The fact that BP’s share price is below levels reflecting that cost, and that BP bond yields have increased to junk levels partly reflects market panic – but also partly reflects genuine fears that the US will do something truly vindictive, using its demonisation of BP as an excuse to steal its (i.e. ‘your’) assets beyond the cost of cleaning the spill in some form of punitive damages.
And everyone who brings out the whole ‘ooh, BP is so evil and unsafe’ saw (it is not; it is as evil and unsafe as the rest of the oil industry, whose levels of evilness and unsafety are set by national governments in oily countries. BP’s safety culture in its US operations is no different from ExxonMobil’s, Shell’s or Chevron’s – it was just the unlucky one this time round) is enabling that demonisation campaign.
The oil industry should be reformed. It won’t get reformed, because we’re too dependent on cheap oil, and the occasional disaster is collectively viewed as a fair price to pay for the ability to pay under $3 a gallon for petrol. Especially when the disaster in question doesn’t happen to Americans: how many people are even aware of Shell’s operations in Nigeria?
But the US’s anti-BP crusade has nothing to do with any efforts to reform the industry – it’s an attempt to distract Americans from the fact that the disaster is primarily their own fault (and that nothing will be done about it in the long term because the American people won’t stand for expensive petrol), and to steal some foreign assets into the bargain.
So unless you’re a stars-and-stripes-waving redneck, don’t join the anti-BP campaign just because you think the world would be a nicer place if companies were nicer…