Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Is BP the Goldman Sachs of Big Oil? CEO Hayward says to fellow executives: “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”

Posted on  

"Is BP the Goldman Sachs of Big Oil? CEO Hayward says to fellow executives: “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”"

Share:

google plus icon

Let’s see: How about a spotty safety record, insistence on voluntary ‘trust me’ self-regulation, a drilling plan that ignored key risks, and failure to use best shut-off technology to save a few bucks?

Limit government, we’re told.  Big companies will police themselves because the potential loss in revenue and reputation is motivation enough, we’re told.  The predictable result is Goldman Sachs, Massey Energy, and BP.

If you Google ‘British Petroleum cited violations‘ you get 192,000 hits.  One of the most revealing is “MMS Records Show BP Has Previous Deepwater Violations” (excerpted below).

CBS and the AP report “BP Didn’t Plan for Major Oil Spill:  Company Suggests in Documents that Likelihood of Accident Happening was Virtually Impossible.”

Planning drives response, and no doubt BP’s delusional worst-case scenario drove them to keep assuring the government and the nation they could handle this.

Though as 20-year Coast Guard veteran Robert Brulle wrote here: “With a spill of this magnitude and complexity, there is no such thing as an effective response.”

At the same time, BP’s “it can’t happen here” mentality is no doubt why it decided to save $500,000 and didn’t bother witha remote-control shutoff switch that two other major oil producers, Norway and Brazil, require,” the WSJ reported (subs. req’d).

BP knows it can’t blame the feds since it fought efforts to change the voluntary self-regulation laws, the industry opposed mandates for the remote-control shutoff switch, BP sold the Minerals Management Service on a laughable planning scenario — it was “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities” — and the industry, not the feds, have the relevant equipment to stop the gusher.

BP has been blaming the rig owner, Transocean.  CEO Hayward said last week, “The responsibility for safety on the drilling rig is Transocean. It is their rig, their equipment, their people, their systems, their safety processes.”  And I expect they will ultimately point the finger at Halliburton, as I’ll discuss tomorrow.

But let’s get to the Goldman-Sachs level of hubris.  In a Friday NYT piece, “Oil Spill’s Blow to BP’s Image May Eclipse Costs” — a dubious headline given the latest spill rate estimates  of up to 1 million gallons a day — the reporter buried the shocking quote from CEO Hayward that should have been the lede:

For Tony Hayward, who has led BP for the last three years, the accident threatens to overshadow all of the efforts he has made to burnish the tattered reputation of the company after a refinery explosion in Texas in 2005 and a pipeline leak in Alaska in 2006.

As Mr. Hayward said to fellow executives in his London office recently, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”

DailyKos notes, “I’ll bet Mr. Hayward has never asked himself that question with respect to his annual salary, which Forbes puts at nearly $5 million.”

Indeed, Rebecca Lefton, a researcher for Progressive Media, noted in a TP post,BP’s Greenwashing Masked Dangerous ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ Reality“:

41% Raise For BP’s CEO. “Chief Executive Tony Hayward’s total remuneration and share awards rose 41% in 2009 on performance bonuses from improved operations which made the company one of the best performing oil majors in the fourth quarter, despite lower full-year profits due to the fall in the oil price.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/5/2010]

But, ultimately, this isn’t about karma or the all-too-high wages of hubris.  It is about negligence, “trust me” self-regulation, whitewashed planning,  and a safety record that Jake Tapper on ABC’s This Week called “spotty.”   Here’s one ‘spot‘:

On October 25, 2007, BP pled guilty to a criminal violation of the Clean Water Act and paid a $20 million fine related to two separate oil spills that occurred in the North Slope in March and August of 2006, the result of a severely corroded pipeline and a safety valve failure. BP formally entered a guilty plea in federal court on November 29, 2007. US District Court Judge Ralph Beistline sentenced BP to three years probation and said oil spills were a “serious crime” that could have been prevented if BP had spent more time and funds investing in pipeline upgrades and a “little less emphasis on profit.”

Here’s another:

BP Exploration & Production, which owns the deep water rig that exploded last week in the Gulf of Mexico, was cited in 2007 for inadequately training employees in well control, according to the US Minerals Management Service.

The conditions of the training are the same as those suspected in the possible blowout aboard the TransOcean Deepwater Horizon, which left 11 workers missing and presumed dead.

MMS slapped BP with $41,000 in fines in October 2007 after a series of violations related to a near-blowout five years earlier.

The NYT story notes that in 2006:

A leaky BP oil pipeline in Alaska forced the shutdown of one of the nation’s biggest oil fields. BP was fined $20 million in criminal penalties after prosecutors said the company had neglected corroding pipelines….

Mr. Hayward, a geologist who had been in charge of exploration and production, took over and promised to refocus the company and change the culture, emphasizing safety. He also expanded the company’s already aggressive exploratory efforts in the deep waters of the gulf.

So Hayward emphasized safety starting when he took over in May 2007, while pursuing deep water drilling in the Gulf uber-aggresively.  How did that work out?  The first page of the Google search reveals this March 2010 story, “OSHA cited BP-Husky refinery for 42 willful, 20 serious violations.”

And this October 2009 NYT story should perhaps give CEO Hayward one small answer to his inane lament:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the largest fine in its history on Friday, $87 million in penalties against the oil giant BP for failing to correct safety problems identified after a 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers at its Texas City, Tex. refinery.

The fine is more than four times the size of any previous OSHA sanction.

Federal officials said the penalty was the result of BP’s failure to comply in hundreds of instances with a 2005 agreement to fix safety hazards at the refinery, the nation’s third-largest.

According to documents obtained by The New York Times, OSHA issued 271 notifications to BP for failing to correct hazards at the Texas City refinery over the four-year period since the explosion. As a result, OSHA, which is part of the Labor Department, is issuing fines of $56.7 million. In addition, OSHA also identified 439 “willful and egregious” violations of industry-accepted safety controls at the refinery. Those violations will lead to $30.7 million in additional fines.

Contacted Thursday night after federal officials disclosed the OSHA citations to The New York Times, BP said it was disappointed.

Yes, disappointed.  As are we all.

And let’s remember that Hayward became “Chief Executive of exploration and production in January 2003.”  He created whatever safety culture the explorers and producers have today.

Buried in the April NYT story is this sleeper:

Last year, when the federal Minerals Management Service proposed a rule that would have required companies to have their safety and environmental management programs audited once every three years, BP and other companies objected. The agency is also investigating charges by a whistle-blower that the company discarded important records from its Atlantis Gulf platform.

Truthout provides more details:

A former contractor who worked for British Petroleum (BP) claims the oil conglomerate broke federal laws and violated its own internal procedures by failing to maintain crucial safety and engineering documents related to one of the firms other deepwater production projects in the Gulf of Mexico, according to internal emails and other documents obtained by Truthout….

… the whistleblower, who was hired to oversee the company’s databases that housed documents related to its Atlantis project, discovered that the drilling platform had been operating without a majority of the engineer-approved documents it needed to run safely, leaving the platform vulnerable to a catastrophic disaster that would far surpass the massive oil spill that began last week following a deadly explosion on a BP-operated drilling rig….

Even worse, 95 percent of Atlantis’ subsea welding records did not receive final approval, calling into question the integrity of thousands of crucial welds on subsea components that, if they were to rupture, could result in an oil spill 30 times worse than the one that occurred after the explosion on Deepwater Horizon last week.

“What the hell did we do to deserve this?”  The question answers itself.

« »

32 Responses to Is BP the Goldman Sachs of Big Oil? CEO Hayward says to fellow executives: “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”

  1. prokaryote says:

    VENICE, La. – David Kinnaird, BP’s liaison to Plaquemines Parish, spent Saturday night ripping up the contracts that hundreds of local commercial fishermen had signed to work for BP cleaning up the slick that could wipe out the local seafood industry.

    It’s not that BP didn’t want to hire them. And there is nothing these fishermen would hesitate to do to save the bayous, canals and rivers where they and their families have made a living for generations – except this: Sign a contract with BP saying they will “hold harmless and indemnify … release, waive and forever discharge the BP Exploration and Production, Inc., its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, directors, regular employees, and independent contractors … from all claims and damages” arising from helping to clean up the mess that BP has made.

    No one wanted to waive the right to sue BP, but some fishermen, desperate for cash, signed the waiver anyway.

    http://nola.humidbeings.com/posts/preview/123752/BP-voids-fishermens-cleanup-contracts-in-La.-cites-legal-mix-up

  2. prokaryote says:

    St. Bernard fisherman put out almost 4x more boom in one day than BPs contractor had in previous 2. #oilspill #Louisiana
    http://twitter.com/DavidVitter

  3. prokaryote says:

    Huge underwater cloud of oil

    A marine toxicologist warns that a chemical being used to disperse the slick near the Louisiana coast is toxic, much like the oil itself.
    http://cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2010/05/01/nr.ott.oil.debate.cnn

  4. prokaryote says:

    Connecting the dots

    As oil spill approaches, dead animals wash up in Mississippi

    “But we’ve never seen this many,” he says, shaking his head. “Something’s going on; we just don’t know what.”

    The animals don’t appear to be coated in oil, but some of the turtles have damaged shells. Though sea turtles can be seen out near the barrier islands, no one is sure where these dead ones are coming from.
    The dead animals are being bagged and taken to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, where scientists are trying to determine what caused their deaths. So far, there are no answers.

    http://blog.gulflive.com/mississippi-press-news/2010/05/as_oil_spill_approaches_dead_animals_wash_up_in_mississippi.html

  5. Chris Winter says:

    Prokaryote quoted:

    ‘It’s not that BP didn’t want to hire them. And there is nothing these fishermen would hesitate to do to save the bayous, canals and rivers where they and their families have made a living for generations — except this: Sign a contract with BP saying they will “hold harmless and indemnify … release, waive and forever discharge the BP Exploration and Production, Inc., its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, directors, regular employees, and independent contractors … from all claims and damages” arising from helping to clean up the mess that BP has made.’

    It looks like “Wayward Hayward” has learned one thing from the Exxon Valdez disaster.

  6. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Don’t you just know that it will take almost as long to clear up the legal mess as it does to clean up the oil.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

    BP’s well.
    Transoceanic opperated the well for BP.
    Halliburton completed the cementing operation that should have sealed the well.
    Cameron provided the automatic shutoff valve that didn’t.

    That ignores what caused the explosion in the first place.

    The victims are much more numerous and will be across many states and therefore jurisdictions. The total of the legal bills is likely to get into the billions.

  7. David B. Benson says:

    Should then one become an attorney?

  8. prokaryote says:

    The total bill related to the oil spill drifting toward Louisiana from a well operated by BP Plc in the Gulf of Mexico, could exceed $14 billion, analysts said.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6412H820100502

    Very positive estimate. The entire ecosystem is gone as people knew it, plus cancer rates will rise, collapse of economy … you could add more.

    A price tag on the planet’s ecosystems – researchers calculate annual worth of Earth’s natural goods and services at $33 trillion – Brief Article
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_n20_v151/ai_19482748/

  9. substanti8 says:

    This is excellent research and a great post.  If you keep this up, we’ll have to start calling you Joe Friday.    :-)

  10. prokaryote says:

    BP Oil Spill Threatens Gulf of Mexico Crude Oil, Gas Operations

    May 3 (Bloomberg) — A growing oil slick fed by an underwater leak in a BP Plc well in the Gulf of Mexico may threaten production, shipping and refining of oil and natural gas in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.

    Those three states account for 19 percent of U.S. refining capacity as of 2009, according to data from the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration.

    “Traders are nervous about how fast the slick could grow,” and whether it could have a significant effect on oil and natural-gas production, said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

    The oil spill followed an April 20 explosion on a drilling rig leased by BP Plc that killed 11 workers. The rig, owned by Transocean Ltd., sank two days later.

    President Barack Obama called the leak a “massive and potentially unprecedented” disaster that could affect the economy of the Gulf states and the jobs of those who depend on the Gulf for their livelihood.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-02/bp-oil-spill-threatens-gulf-of-mexico-crude-oil-gas-operations.html

  11. John McCormick says:

    In a few years, we will look back upon April, 2010 as the month when America’s music died.

    Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain economic downfall.

    Sen. Graham jumping ship on the K.L.G. climate change bill.

    BP’s oil rig catastrophe unabated, caught up by the Gulf Stream and washing up on Atlantic shores.

    John McCormick

  12. darth says:

    Looks like the major flooding in Tennessee story is getting buried by the oil spill. CNN reports 7 dead now. Here’s the money quote:

    “This is one of the most severe rain events Nashville has ever experienced,” Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said in a statement.

    Hmm, I wonder who would have predicted this?

  13. Leave it to the New York Times to downplay the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history — especially since it pertains to oil.

    Oh! And did the New York Times bother to run an article on the military officers’ letter concerning how climate change and fossil-fuel energy dependence were the most urgent security issues of our times?

    Uh. Nope.

  14. prokaryote says:

    More Background

    BP’s Worsening Spill Crisis Undermines CEO’s Reforms

    But BP continued to run afoul of U.S. regulators. In October last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit BP with $87 million in penalties for failing to fix safety hazards at Texas City, the site of the 2005 explosion. A few months later, it slapped on another fine over lapses at another refinery, in Toledo, Ohio.

    “The most shocking thing is that more than four years after the blast, BP still had very serious problems not only in Texas City but in other refineries as well,” said Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “There is a systemic safety problem across the company.”

    As the extent of the disaster unfolded, Mr. Hayward’s crisis team gathered on the sixth floor of BP’s London headquarters. “Tony just had this icy stare,” says one person present. “At one point he said: “What the hell have we done to deserve this?”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704093204575215981090535738.html?mod=WSJ_business_LeadStoryCollection

  15. catman306 says:

    “BP’s oil rig catastrophe unabated, caught up by the Gulf Stream and washing up on Atlantic shores.”
    John McCormick

    But if it gets into the Gulf Stream it could cross the atlantic and wash up on British beaches as well.
    “What goes around, comes around.” It is, after all, British Petroleum.

  16. anonymous says:

    Isn’t it this one that’s now leaking? Haven’t seen it ascertained: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiber_oilfield

  17. David HS says:

    You quote Mr. Hayward as saying to fellow executives in his London office recently, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”
    The more important question is: “What the hell did you, BP senior executives, not your contractors or sub-contractors, do assess the risks and plan to prevent this type of accident?”

  18. anonymous says:

    It is a Lower Tertiary oil field, meaning formed during Paleogene, the remnants of the massive CT-extinction event liquefied, it is deep because it hasn’t had the time to rise with plate tectonics, to controllably tap and use these oil fields means temperatures that occurred when the dinos and cretaceous sea life rotted during early paleogene (est. +15 degrees). I’m really hoping there are some channels in this field that will collapse as the pressure diminishes (no sign of that yet) stopping the flow. Really, have they gone for the highest place in this field (there would be the most volatile (read:explosive) hydrocarbons that require least processing)??? Even I (2,5 years of organic chemistry in a university) would advise against that in a ‘ deepest, never-done-before’ well. Now I have to stop before I start to gush expletives.

  19. roger says:

    BP need to get off the butt and clean it up. Our gas prices will go up but I don’t care.

    Roger

  20. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    If Obama wants to address the issue rationally, then the FBI should required to arrest Hayward on charges of profiteering by promoting a culture of serial criminal negligence, for which he has personal executive liability back to 2003.
    If a third strike of stealing a pizza gets you jailed for life in some states, how long should Hayward get ?

    And as for the corporation, a fine of three years’ profits would seem mild given prior convictions, multiple ongoing current violations (e.g. Atlantis), and the foreseeable scale of the GOM & Atlantic coasts’ damage.

    Joe – I wonder if you’d care to apply the line in your tele-media work that “Self-Regulation is an oxymoron that is looking more dated by the week” ?

    Regards,

    Lewis

  21. prokaryote says:

    What i would do in Hayward’s situation now.

    Considering the companys safety records, peakoil, risc with drilling in general, energy security and national security aspects the time is right for a turning point in company politics.

    1.) Work with all groups in good faith as best as possible.
    2.) Stop off-shore drilling – everywhere.
    3.) Start invest in renewables instead – swords to ploughshares (off-shore drilling becomes wind generation).
    4.) BP’s goal to become the first energy enterprise with a 100% renewable portfolio.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swords_to_ploughshares
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_of_Tarsus

    I belive this is the only strategy which would save the company from take over and would be the right thing todo now.
    Re-gain consumer trust. Give something back, for years of environmental contamination, pollution – moment of opportunity is now!

    If not these things will happen again and again and again, especialy with off-shore drilling and natural gas extraction – methane hydrate leaks!

  22. Artful Dodger says:

    What i would do in Hayward’s situation now.

    I’ve begun to think that the Blankfeins and the Haywards of this world are afflicted with a very real but as-of-yet unidentified behavioral disorder most likely best described as “greed addiction.” These people display all the sociopathies of a meth addict, including not seeming to care how much the rest of the world hates them as a result of their behaviors.

    If someone had the opportunity to study brainscans of contemporary banking and energy CEO’s, I’d bet they’d find some severe structural deviations deep within the rewards centers of their brains. I firmly believe that these people have been addicted to their own dopamine and financial “success” for decades.

    And no, I’m not kidding about this. I privately mused about this in jest a few years ago. But the longer this idea has sat with me, the more deeply I’m moved to believe this hypothesis. I also suspect there may be a hereditary component to this disorder. All conjecture, I know. And perhaps not the most useful comment at this juncture. Regardless, I’ve begun considering many modern “leaders of industry” amongst the criminally insane lately and unfit to lead.

  23. Leif says:

    I would to point out that as horrific as the spill is it pales in comparison to what we are doing to every square inch of ocean every day with the other oil and fossil fuel tailings. That is the potential for ocean acidification to eliminate the entire base of the ocean food chain within our children’s lifetime.

    Wake up America, Please…

  24. Doug Bostrom says:

    I’m sort of amazed at how hermetic BP has managed to be with their information.

    Some info leaks out anyay. Take a look at the photos on the wall of this BP conference room. If that’s the wellhead tree in those shots (and why wouldn’t they be?) it’s no wonder they’re having trouble with the blowout preventer:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2010/may/03/oil-spills-pollution?picture=362138012

  25. alfredthegreat says:

    I’ve begun to think that the Blankfeins and the Haywards of this world are afflicted with a very real but as-of-yet unidentified behavioral disorder most likely best described as “greed addiction.” These people display all the sociopathies of a meth addict, including not seeming to care how much the rest of the world hates them as a result of their behaviors.

    In response to artful dodger (24 and portion copied above – I think that you are right on. It is an addiction – you always want more and cannot let go / spend what you currently have. Think it may have something to do with portions of the soul that one must give up in order to do ‘their job’.

    This is best described in Boethius, Consulation of Philosophy – especially in chapter 4. (King Alfred’s translation is great) It is sad, scary and trite. And the worst thing one can do is feed the greed. some external force must happen. A change in our own value systems – or gathering of – where things like this, money like this, is just not cool.

    How is it that we would never like a movie where the bad guy – the Potter – ended up winning and getting / keeping the money. Why is it we live real life that way??

  26. Karen S says:

    I agree with Artful Dodger’s premise, that the behaviors exhibited by industry leaders may be based on an alternate reality. These behaviors should be examined and understood by more people. Someone ought to ask a psychologist how people like that tick. I think this saying applies to all politics, whether national, corporate or local: absolute power corrupts absolutely. How does it happen? We need answers.

    I’ll speculate on the “What have we done to deserve this” question: Hayward sounded genuinely dismayed when he uttered it. How could that be? Perhaps he feels that a big chunk of the world’s (e.g., Wall Street’s) economic health rides on his shoulders, that BP’s responsibility for producing oil for the world is actually more altruism than business. From his chair he probably doesn’t deal with money directly, so everything’s a derivative in his life. Vaguely worded efficiency memos from the top get interpreted by managers as tacit permission to relax safety standards. Nobody objects as long as it increases competitive advantage and profits. A teensy little bit of dishonesty breeds more.

    Maybe Hayward believes his advisors who tell him that no long term damage occurs from those pesky spills on the North Slope. They’re just a cost of doing business when the business is as important as he views it to be. I’ll bet he views himself as a decent person, not greedy. It wouldn’t surprise me if he even views his job as a form of public service. That could explain such a baffling blind side. I’ll bet people like Hayward surround themselves with like-minded advisers, which insulates and can codify branded thinking to almost cultlike. Certainly that’s the case with Massey Coal, whom I believe were fully aware of the evil they wrought.

    Insular thinking minimizes the attention paid to other viewpoints, and marginalizes dissenters. Eventually, large groups of people disappear from their radar screens. Cushioned in their alternate realities, they forget that the human beings they label consumers can think, and that there’s a large reservoir of resentment that bites hard when they mess with the public trust. But from their alternate reality they don’t see it coming, and are shocked when it all hits the fan. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s all a PR tactic, who knows. They always hunker down and hope we forget about it soon. We usually don’t disappoint them.

    Speculation on bloated salaries: when you’re that rich and surrounded by luxury, it must be really really hard to empathize with how difficult, scary and corrosive poverty is to human life. It must be hard to see symbolism or scale in everyday life. Remember Merrill Lynch’s John Thain installing a $2 million dollar bathroom in his office in the midst of his own corporation’s final agony? Either they don’t get it or they do, and don’t care. Either way, people like that don’t belong in leadership. As long as they’re there, nothing will change.

    So, combine a possible Atlas complex with an acquired insularity, a selective hearing of truths, a value system that evolves to share little in common with ordinary people. Add a huge need to maintain the status quo and you have the CEO of the world’s largest oil company asking a stupid question like that.

  27. Leif says:

    Karen S: You go girl… I would add that those same CEOs feel justified in taking their huge compensations because of all the responsibility that they shoulder. The irony is if those CEOs ran a moral and ethical company those same responsibilities would wither away to be shared by the whole employee base as well as regulatory input, politicians, and even society.

    And might very likely prevented this tragedy in the first place.

    Assuming that every mishap is someone else’s’ problem assures that it well be!

  28. Public says:

    THE GREATEST CRIME?

    Publication of deliberately false climate change data literally ought — i.e., MUST — be treated, not as a peccadillo, but as a Crime Against Humanity.

    My remark here is not an expression of an emotion, but of an intellectual and humanitarian reaction of a scientist to falsification of data that could be as bad in its effect as long-term global warming itself, by permitting the latter to thrive, and acquire an egregious and panhumanly disastrous momentum.

    If this were World War III such people would be shot, and with far, far greater warrant than even those human catastrophes.

    A scientist is a kind of Protective Angel for Humanity. Why? Simply because he lives and breathes for Truth.

    ——— * ———

    As for the falsifiers of data, or criminal social parasites, let me switch from the second to the first of my scientific careers, long ago at M.I.T., where I was — a then VERY rare! — theorist in neuroscience, trying to make sense of the human brain as a whole and all the astonishing behavior and abilities it gives rise to.

    A SIDE interest of mine, then and later, was the queer and baffling, and decidedly chilling, phenomenon of the psychopath, a.k.a. sociopath. The essential trait of such people is that have little or no conscience, and yet they can be at the same time profoundly convincing to the layman — i.e., virtually all of us.

    The incidence of these curious and horrific people in the body of the whole of humanity is estimated to be of the order of 1/200. This is misleading, however, because the pathology is a matter of degree, or properly illustrated by an intensity-frequency curve.

    To put it simply, a psychopath can and does lie without a blink, either external or internal. And often does so for profit or simply out of total indifference to the harm he works upon the innocent and the virtuous.

    I have little doubt that the purveyors of purposefully, and dangerously, falsified Global Warming data ARE in many instances psychopaths, whose falsifications tend to put ALL of us at risk.

    Even heads of great corporations can be, in various ways and degrees, psychopathic. (Psychopathy probably had some partly useful — personal OR social — function in the long-ago past of Homo sapiens. It is certainly common enough in our politicians nowadays!)

    — Patrick Michael Gunkel (Princeton, NJ)

    POSTSCRIPT: Two decades ago I was neutral, but skeptical, about global warming. Later I realized that we simply could not tolerate the risks it potentially posed. One does not play games, or take chances, when essentially the whole of civilization and humanity MAY be in peril.

    None of us can escape from the need for such caution, and where even the very survival of our species over Eternity may just be confronted with the possibility of extinction through carelessness or ignorance, or a shallow and selfish morality, or ideology or skepticism, or a universal involvement in petty and personal disputes between men fighting in diapers. (Phenomena we have seen often enough in World Wars and in Wars Ancient, but no less pathetic and mindless.)

    In short, All of the Future hangs by a single tenuous thread from each and ever Present.

  29. Angelo says:

    What’s the difference between being companies running our lives and government running our lives? At least we have some (admittedly extremely nominal these days) say in the matter with the government. I agree that government should be reduced in terms of spending for social programs when reasonably possible. However, regulation is the no. 1 thing that the government is for. If the government isn’t there to set the rules of fair play, to regulate companies, and to enforce transparency, what good is it?

  30. Leif says:

    If companies were charged with respect for human rights, earth’s life support systems, equality in standards of living world wide, etc. before profits then perhaps governments would not be needed. However when governments become handy men of powerful psychopaths, one must wonder if either are needed. I contend that both responsible governments and humanitarian efforts by capitalism and corporations are both needed and required immediately to have a chance to remove ourselves from the hole we continue to frantically dig.