Enough Starts at Home
Roland is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
For those of you with really short memory spans, on the eve of Earth Day 2010, BP (NYSE: BP) had a disaster manufactured by greed that claimed 11 lives and occupied the nightly news for weeks, if not months.
There appeared to be no limit to public outrage at the time. When then-CEO Tony Hayward said, “I’d like my life back,” the proverbial cork popped out of the bottle.
At the time, it appeared all any politician had to do to get re-elected was present a bill saddling BP with at least half of this country’s national debt. Outrage was so strong there were calls calls for extradition and demands the entire board of directors face manslaughter or some other capital crime charge. Nearly every citizen was demanding BP be punished to the point they could no longer exist as a corporation, and a check of the current stock market will tell you just how well those demands were listened to.
Of course, some PR person decided it was a good time for BP to fund a commercial telling people the Gulf Coast had its “best year ever” or some such thing like that recently. A good many people will be duped by this commercial. Most won’t associate that full screen BP logo at the end with being the “source” of this commercial. It’s a bit like all of those studies funded by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) “proving” it was cheaper for corporations to pay many hundreds of dollars per desktop in software licensing and support fees than use free OpenSource Linux distributions and office bundles.
Once again I’m hearing outcry that the government was bought (probably true via lobbyist contributions) and that not enough was done to punish BP for needlessly throwing away human life. Please allow me a minute to turn that question around. What did you personally do to punish BP? Did you cut up that BP credit card in your wallet and close the account? Did you stop buying BP fuel 100% of the time, or only for the first few weeks when you were “thinking” about it?
This summer, and again this fall, I happened to get off I-57 at Highway 17 in Kankakee. Those of you who watch Letterman probably remember Kankakee as the city that received the Gazebos. Other, more newsy type people, would remember Kankakee as the home of convicted former Governor George Ryan. (No, not Blogo the former Governor we just put in prison, the one before him.) As you head West on Highway 17 a short distance you come upon three gas stations in this area known as a ghetto: Shell, BP, and Marathon. The BP station is consistently about a dime cheaper than the other two stations but you rarely see more than one car there and it will usually have out-of-state plates. At the same time on the same day the other two gas stations will have half to all of their pumps occupied. These are the people who can least afford to pay ten cents per gallon more, yet they make the choice. These people are a long City of New Orleans train ride from the Gulf. Most or at least many are on some form of state or federal aid, yet they make the choice and do without something else.
What choice did you make?
Don’t lambast the government for not doing enough then do your Christmas shopping using a BP credit card.
Enough starts at home.