Archive for July, 2010

On the Gulf Spill Reimbursements

Pardon me for a moment, let me just pull this soap box over here….OK, I’m ready.

So today–or was it yesterday–marks the 100th day of the BP Gulf Oil Spill.  I still cannot began to even imagine how much oil is really in the waters, my mind is too simple to fathom the volume that must have escaped the drilling well. I’ve shaken my head about how long it has taken BP to do anything, but today I actually heard something that made me pause and want to kick a can.

I heard a report on the radio about compensation of gulf coast residents for their losses due to the oil spill.  One person who filed a claim was a small business owner of a shop that does the linens for restaurants.  With the Gulf restaurants not seeing business as usual, his services are in less use, and as a result, he passes it on to companies that he buys linens or cleaning supplies from.  Another was an owner of a nail salon that found that since the spill, clientele numbers have dropped and it is hurting her bottom line.  I believe there was also a real estate agent claiming the spill reduced the number of buyers in the market and was damaging the business.  At the end of the report my jaw dropped to the ground.  Do these people really believe that they deserve to be compensated?  Do they think they are innocent by-standers and simply victims?

At first it may seem reasonable, after all a greedy corporation may have cut corners to improve the bottom line and make more money.  A common career strategy for a corporate accountant is to find ways to cut costs, transferring the savings into profit side of the balance sheet which can then be paid back to investors via dividends or what not.  It is a good way for an accountant to reach C-level and then attract the attention of the board.  Never mind if it is wrong or not, let us ask another question.  What drives this behavior?  Certainly salary, bonuses, prestige, and maybe even lust for power are on the mind of the company employee looking to move up.  But who offers this proposition to the C-levels?  The Board, which represents investors in the company, right?  And who are the investors?  More often than not they are large financial firms that, while representing the rich, they also offer products to normal American business and citizens looking for ways to invest money for employee or personal 401k plans, IRAs, annuities, or some other scheme to create a retirement.  As much as Americans hate big government and big finance, most Americans have a vested interest in the health of the financial system.

Never mind all of that though, let us probe an even more fundamental issue, that of which who it is that consumes the output from gulf oil.  Each and every American is partly responsible for this oil spill.  Who do we think BP is selling this oil to?  Every American who owns an automobile or any form of motorized equipment is partly responsible, including lawnmowers, jet-skis and any vehicle that consumes petrol.  Americans chose to live in the suburbs/exurbs and drive to the office on the other side of town.  Americans chose lower taxes rather than paying more for services to improve urban areas and public transportation.  Americans have chosen this way of life, but when the source of their way of life gets in the way, they expect to be compensated for it?  Insanity!

Every weekend if you look around coastal South Carolina you see the effects of oil everywhere.  From the large 4WD trucks and SUVs hauling campers and hunting ATVs, the recreation boats flying up and down the Wando river, 5.0L* Hemi pickups used for everyday transportation (trucks are fashionable in South Carolina, in case you didn’t know), the weekend Harley Davidson hog cruisers…everywhere you look processed petroleum is being consumed for leisure activities.

America as a whole has constantly rejected the idea of dense urban living and public transportation.  Rather than sharing a public spare and even reading a magazine or book on the way to work, Americans prefer the private space of the cabin of their personal motor vehicle.  That is a choice, and while it is a valid choice, Americans must be prepared to deal with the consequences of their lifestyle choice.  Rather than scapegoating BP for everything like Obama and the Senate so love to do, a little introspection might go a long way.  But that would be asking too much.  After all, someone needs to fund the lifestyle of gulf residents–the same people who enjoyed the low price of BP petrol for so many years.

* – As I know nothing about engines, I’m not sure if its 5.0 or 5.8 L or some other technical number

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World Cup fever

Well the World Cup is almost over.  It has gone by so fast it seems, June has come and gone too.  Brazil is out, and they probably deserve it.  Though we saw some great goals and beautiful passing in the preliminary round, the fool who stomped on the Dutchman deserved the red card he was issued, and being a man down seemed to really take the wind out of Brazil.  It was a blatant and ugly foul, and the referee did right on the call.  Better luck in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  I do hope Uruguay cleans up the Diving Dutchmen though.  Brazil just didn’t have the talent and energy this year.  Ghana is out too, the last African team, and the only team left in the tournament that I can root for is Germany.  Über alles, Deutschland?  Argentina will not be easy though.

Well it is July now and half of the year has gone by.  Believe it or not I’ve done rather well with my new year’s resolutions.  I’ve been taking Chinese lessons via the Internet since March and I am really improving, both in skill and in personal confidence level.  I’ve also has a few road trips this year and I’ve seen a few interesting spots.  The running didn’t take off well initially, but I’ve been at it three weeks now and I’m really enjoying it now.  Hopefully I can keep this pace up through the end of the year.  There is still room for more improvement too.

Oddly I have nothing to say lately.  Perhaps its the preoccupation with the World Cup?  Or maybe work?  Hopefully the opinions will begin to flow again soon.

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