When British Petroleum CEO, Tony Hayward, said he wanted his life back....he wasn't joking. And, the odds are extremely good that he will get it back. Actually, he might get some sort of 'silver bullet' arrangement and be replaced by another person of his same arrogant ilk....but, I am going out on a limb here and making a prediction that when the leak has finally been plugged, and about two years of clean-up has been done....things will slowly, but inexorably return to 'business as usual'.
The clean-up after the Exxon Valdez incident was very high profile....initially. And then, very gradually over a period of the next couple of years, it tapered off. The multi-billion dollar judgment against Exxon was quietly reduced to about 500 million, and the clean-up finally whimpered to a close. PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND IS STILL NOT CLEAN, however. I saw a recent video clip in which the reporter was escorted along the shore and his interviewee used a small stick to pick up globs of black, tarry oil. There it still lies.
And, once all the furor is calmed, and people are given the least possible, wholly inadequate but 'reasonable' compensation for the loss of their livelihoods, and massive amounts of remorseful bulls**t have been applied to the terrible wounds of the gulf-coast environment and its wildlife........and the oil is no longer the star of every evening news broadcast....the Great Taper-off will begin. In nature, if a predator wants to conceal its movement--right out in the open, where the prey have a good view of it--it just moves veeery sloooowly, and pauses whenever it sees the prey look in its direction. It works like a champ. The lion, cheetah, or tiger becomes invisible. And, don't think for a minute that the publicists and executives at BP don't know how this works.
We should not mistake BP for a benign corporate enterprise that is merely working hard to make sure we can have all the gasoline we want. They are the ones who decided--with the tacit permission of the U.S. government--to pretend that they had all the bases covered in the case of a scenario like this disaster. They are the ones who decided that one Blow-out Preventor would be just fine, thank you. (aside: did you know that off-shore drilling in the North Sea, off of Europe, requires TWO of these devices.....apparently well aware that if one fails you are in an un-recoverable disaster situation?) They are the ones who have spent untold millions manipulating how we see them, via a long-standing t-v ad campaign that makes them look ever so progressive and just plain NICE people to deal with. And, in case you haven't noticed, they are now spending millions to shape public opinion of just how harshly they should be held responsible. At every possible opportunity, they are finding ways to insinuate that, "....there's a limit" to how accountable they should be. One BP spokesman managed to insert the idea that some of the dead and dying birds in the gulf may be dying from OTHER CAUSES. Are you sh*tting me?
So, here is my prediction boiled down: within two years of the time the leak is plugged, all of this will have simmered down to the occasional news story about how people in the gulf coast are surviving the destruction of their lives.....just like it did after Katrina. BP will be carrying on business as usual and 'cooler heads' will have found a way to let them mostly off the hook......after all: they are just hard-working entrepreneurs, trying their best to make sure our needs are met, right? And, if the Tea-Baggers march into Washington on a mandate from the people this fall, companies like BP will be in very good positions to conduct BUSINESS AS USUAL.