Is BP British?
June 21, 2010 6:31 AM   Subscribe

When did BP stop being BP and start becoming British Petroleum? How the Gulf crisis made BP British again. Also: How oil and accents made Britain a figure of hate in US halls of power.
posted by Fizz (79 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sarah Palin, whose husband worked for BP for many years, urged people who live in the Gulf states to “learn from Alaska’s lesson with foreign oil companies” – glossing over the fact that BP is 40% American owned, after merging with Amoco a decade ago.

Oh Jeebus.

But seriously, we hate Halliburton, too. It's nothing against the British.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:34 AM on June 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


I noticed that when Joe Barton was all apologizing to Hayward, he said "British Petroleum" and then quickly took it back and said, "I mean BP."
posted by anniecat at 6:34 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And when is Mexico going to step it up! It is their gulf!
posted by Tavern at 6:37 AM on June 21, 2010 [16 favorites]


I noticed that when Joe Barton was all apologizing to Hayward, he said "British Petroleum" and then quickly took it back and said, "I mean BP."

Sounding it out as "British Petroleum" is like calling a kid by his full-including-the-middle name when you're mad.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:37 AM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dear US Congressmen. I'm embarrassed too.

I've taken to calling it "40% American Petroleum" so foreign colleagues stop making fun of my wonky teeth, plummy accent and tolerance for suet-based meals.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:37 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think anyone has a problem with "The British" in general. Although Boris Johnson and that lord guy trying to defend BP didn't help anything.

But seriously the reason people are saying "British Petroleum" is because just saying "BP" simply doesn't sound serious. Just like the prototypical angry parent using the child's full name when she's mad. It sounds especially silly because it's only two letters, so making it into an acronym seems unessential.

For making 'serious important' statements, you want to use the 'serious, important' name.
posted by delmoi at 6:41 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


BP isn't British, in the same way that Exxon and Coca-Cola aren't American. These corporations are transnational, bigger than any government, beholden to no laws. Somehow businesses have grown into monstrosities, and short of open, armed warfare I can't think of any way to stop them.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:42 AM on June 21, 2010 [25 favorites]


Tony Hayward has a distinctive regional accent by the way. Hardly plummy.
posted by A189Nut at 6:42 AM on June 21, 2010


India to demand U.S. extradition of former Union Carbide exec
posted by XMLicious at 6:44 AM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Economist even made a chart to show the increase in US press references to British Petroleum. Clearly we Brits are pretty hot on the distinction.
posted by smcg at 6:44 AM on June 21, 2010


No company called British Petroleum has existed since the merger with Amoco in 1998.

Now, if the oil spill had been in the North Sea, and the wildlife was being killed on the beaches of Scotland, and the British Prime Minister insisted that "he would keep his boot on the throat of Amoco"...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:44 AM on June 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


"BP" doesn't stand for "British Petroleum". It's just the name of the company and has been for years.
posted by DU at 6:46 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah. I'm waiting for Tea Party activists to express their anger at the British by dressing up like Indians and throwing some bales of tea into the Gulf of Mexico to sop up some of that British oil.

Make themselves useful for a change.
posted by three blind mice at 6:48 AM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


"BP" doesn't stand for "British Petroleum". It's just the name of the company and has been for years.

That's like saying "KFC" doesn't stand for "Kentucky Fried Chicken". Except, you know, it totally does whether or not it's their official name doesn't make that much difference, when everyone knows it used to be called "British petroleum" and now they're "BP".
posted by delmoi at 6:49 AM on June 21, 2010 [28 favorites]


Stands for "Bernie Pulaski", an unemployed cab driver from the Bronx who won the company in the NY State Lottery last October. But he's been laying low since this whole Gulf thing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:51 AM on June 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


That's like saying "KFC" doesn't stand for "Kentucky Fried Chicken". Except, you know, it totally does...

Perhaps I'm too much of a software engineer to think like that.
posted by DU at 6:51 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


BP and the Axis of Evil by Adam Curtis on his blog.
posted by elpapacito at 6:52 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


There seem to be a lot of stalking horses helping us not pay attention to the Mineral Management Service's part of the fiasco. Oil patch people (I work with several) consider BP cheap and skeevy, and have done for years; among BP, Transocean and Halliburton there was a bad working relationship; and BP senior management has been tone-deaf to an astonishing degree. All these foibles are being used to keep the MMS' culture out of the spotlight and I view it as incredibly cynical. There is plenty of blame to go around. For example, the disaster manangement plans that referred to walruses in the Caribbean were probably (ok, now I'm guessing) reviewed and approved by MMS, so whose fault is it that the walrus references were only challenged after the plans didn't work?
posted by jet_silver at 6:52 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


the walrus references were only challenged after the plans didn't work

koo-koo-ka-choo.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:56 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Both articles poke fun at Boris Johnson for calling BP a "great British company".

I think he was talking of it as in a "Great British company", like "UK company". I mean, I know he's a total buffoon but I don't think even he would be talking of BP like it was a "wonderful British company" right now...
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 6:56 AM on June 21, 2010


I still think of BP as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
posted by jb at 7:04 AM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think he was talking of it as in a "Great British company", like "UK company"

If he was, it would be the only time I have ever heard anyone use "Great British" as a synonym for "British".
posted by vbfg at 7:05 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, there's something funny about the role accents play in all this.

Maybe it is the classic American trope of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps to overcome an established, entrenched authority, but I could rattle off ten movies right now in which the "hero" has a plain ol' American accent, but the villain is a Brit.

Americans have programmed themselves through generations of films to regard anyone speaking the received pronunciation to be an instrument of the devil.

Except, you know, like Gandalf.
posted by jefficator at 7:13 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that the Petroleum part of the name is the emphasis here. I don't think that the Obama administration is really trying to bash the Brits but they're trying to restore the part of the name that BP has been trying to distance themselves from for ten years. Remember those "Beyond Petroleum" ads with happy environmental themes? They've been trying to present themselves as a forward thinking 21st Century modern company when they're obvious still being run the same way that oil companies have always been run. Refusing to call them BP is just calling their bluff on their bullshit greenwashing.
posted by octothorpe at 7:15 AM on June 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'd always assumed that the "xenophobic Americans hating on the poor Brits" angle was manufactured by BP's PR department for public consumption in the UK.
posted by phooky at 7:18 AM on June 21, 2010 [18 favorites]


All these foibles are being used to keep the MMS' culture out of the spotlight and I view it as incredibly cynical. There is plenty of blame to go around. For example, the disaster manangement plans that referred to walruses in the Caribbean were probably (ok, now I'm guessing) reviewed and approved by MMS, so whose fault is it that the walrus references were only challenged after the plans didn't work?

So... if I mow down a herd of Caribbean walruses while driving drunk in my Jag, is it my fault or is the fault of of the local constabulary whom I've been paying off... or maybe we should argue about just who owns Jaguar nowadays? or maybe it's on all of our shoulders for building those roads to drive around in cars in the first place.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:18 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's like saying "KFC" doesn't stand for "Kentucky Fried Chicken". Except, you know, it totally does...

Except in this case KFC does stand for "Kentucky Fried Chicken."
KFC changed its name from Kentucky Fried Chicken” to “KFC”, in 1991. In the early ‘90’s, our menu expanded to include non-fried chicken. As such, our name changed accordingly to “KFC.”

However, in April of 2005, KFC opened a new vision store in Louisville, Kentucky, where the words Kentucky Fried Chicken are proudly displayed on both the inside and outside. This new Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant is part of a plan to open another 50 restaurants this year corporate and franchisee), to see how to best serve our many different customer bases. (self-link citation)
I do think the whole are we mad at "BP" or "British Petroleum?" is pretty irrelevant, since honestly, 75% of the US thinks Britain is just a formalized version of England. If the British people are upset, then maybe I see a point, if BP is upset I don't give a rat's ass.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:20 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


DP: Perhaps I'm too much of a software engineer to think like that.

Huh. So you can understand every system but a social/linguistic one?
posted by converge at 7:21 AM on June 21, 2010


There's been a fair bit of media manipulation by BP themselves during the debacle. One obvious example being the attempt to characterise any financial punishment of BP as an attempt by that nasty American Obama to dip your granny's pension.
posted by Jakey at 7:38 AM on June 21, 2010


We are all BPers now...for a very fine investigative study (article)of what seems to have gone very wrong in the BP disaster, this, via NYTimes today:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/us/21blowout.html?hp

it is long but very well researched.
posted by Postroad at 7:39 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


the walrus references were only challenged after the plans didn't work

koo-koo-ka-choo.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:56 AM on June 21



I am the Oilman with apologies to Lennon and McCartney
I am oily you are oily so's BP and we are all together.
See how they run like a roach from the sun, see how they lie.
I'm crying.

Sitting on a doomed beach, waiting for the slick to come.
Corporation greedy jerks, asshole CEO smirks.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your rig go down.
I am the oilman, they are the oilmen
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob.

Mister rig inspector sitting
Putting all the white lines in a row.
See how they die, the birds have to fly, why did you lie.
I'm crying, I'm crying.
I'm crying, I'm crying.

Toxic oily crude sludge, dripping from a dead fish eye.
Petrodollar gigolo, governmental lapdog,
Boy, you been a cheapskate girl you let the oil flow.
I am the oilman, they are the oilmen.
I am walrus, goo goo g'joob.

Sitting at a petrol station waiting for your turn.
If your turn don't come you don't get mad
There's three more in the neighborhood.
I am the oilman, they are the oilmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob.
Goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob g'goo.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:41 AM on June 21, 2010 [15 favorites]


I'd always assumed that the "xenophobic Americans hating on the poor Brits" angle was manufactured by BP's PR department for public consumption in the UK.

That makes a lot of sense. It's certainly a theme that's playing well in the media over here, but one wonders whether there's a lot of astro-turfing going on.

One obvious example being the attempt to characterise any financial punishment of BP as an attempt by that nasty American Obama to dip your granny's pension.

Though to be fair, the biggest investors in BP are pension and investment funds - two of the biggest holders in the US are the state of New Jersey and the Gates Foundation (sourced from Bloomberg). But on the other hand, how much of any investor's portfolio is made up of BP shares? Not much, I'd think.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:44 AM on June 21, 2010


Actually I think we should call every company by its full name.

Excuse me, I've got to get some gas from Royal Dutch Shell so I can drive over to Royal Bank of Scotland in my Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki-gaisha car and get some cash to pay Deutsche Telekom Mobile and buy dinner at my local Yum! Foods Incorporated Taco Bell!
posted by miyabo at 7:45 AM on June 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


That's like saying "KFC" doesn't stand for "Kentucky Fried Chicken". Except, you know, it totally does whether or not it's their official name doesn't make that much difference, when everyone knows it used to be called "British petroleum" and now they're "BP".

There are known knowns, there are known unknowns, and there are unknown unknowns. "British Petroleum," however, is an unknown known.
posted by Pants McCracky at 7:48 AM on June 21, 2010


and buy dinner at my local Yum! Foods Incorporated Taco Bell

Why not go to Doctor's Associates, Inc?

Subway to you and me

Ah, shitbird. My International Business Machines portable computational device is on the blink again.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:50 AM on June 21, 2010


So you can understand every system but a social/linguistic one?

I think perhaps DU's software engineer point was that he's accustomed enough to computer-related acronym-like words that don't actually mean anything (like "UNIX" for example) that he would more easily disassociate the acronym from the phrase it's derived from.
posted by XMLicious at 7:53 AM on June 21, 2010


Excuse me, I've got to get some gas from Royal Dutch Shell so I can drive over to Royal Bank of Scotland in my Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki-gaisha car and get some cash to pay Deutsche Telekom Mobile and buy dinner at my local Yum! Foods Incorporated Taco Bell!


You know when you say it like that, it's clear we are living inside a late 80s cyberpunk novel.
posted by The Whelk at 7:55 AM on June 21, 2010 [24 favorites]


Many years ago I worked for a British international company. The top management was British, presenting a facade of integrity to their largest market, the US, whilst cynically enacting a whole series of corporate bottom feeder strategies that undermined the quality of their products. The contempt for Americans was palpable. Ironically, the company was actually owned by a Swedish corporation the British management hated. Norman yoke and all that. I am astonished at the parallels between my former employer and this current BP drama.

Ironically, BP constructed a "Beyond Petroleum" eco-gas station on the Westside of Los Angeles. Target moron market. Now its a protest gathering site for people who probably bought Hummers and SUVs not too long ago as a fashion statement.

Amidst all this, I mourn most for the ecosystem dying. Humans are fools.
posted by effluvia at 7:58 AM on June 21, 2010


What Boris said:

“When you consider the huge exposure of British pension funds to BP and to BP’s share price, and the vital importance of BP, it starts to become a matter of national concern if a great British company is being continually beaten up on the international airwaves.”

I have never heard anyone here ever use "Great British" as an adjective. It's just "British", except occasionally in deliberately punning advertisements: "a Great British invention" or something similar.

Mild conspiracy theory: the key to understanding what's going on is what is about to happen to pension provision in government and local government jobs in the UK over the next year. The government desperately wants to reduce the cost of pension provision, and can do so with reasonable public support if everyone with a privately-held pension is convinced that the public sector gets a much better pension deal. So when the current government says "BP is a great British company, and by abusing it the Americans are devaluing your pension", what they mean is "See how vulnerable your private pension is compared to the teacher next door?".

BP equity accounts for between >a href="http://business.scotsman.com/business/BP39s--ubiquity-in-fund.6342663.jp">3 and 7% of UK pension fund total investment and about 14% of dividends paid out across the UK economy.
posted by cromagnon at 8:08 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think perhaps DU's software engineer point was that he's accustomed enough to computer-related acronym-like words that don't actually mean anything (like "UNIX" for example) that he would more easily disassociate the acronym from the phrase it's derived from.

No, it's that I'm used to the idea of a variable being re-bound to a new value with no "memory" of a previous value.

It used to be like this:

*actual company* <- "British Petroleum" <- "BP"

Now it is

*actual company* <- "BP"
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on June 21, 2010


How could BP be British, when we all know it was birthed by Hitler and run by Satan?

Also, if you don't know the different between "Britain" and "England" then you shouldn't be allow to have an opinion on the matter.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:24 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


People are furious at BP because their safety record is so shitty. All the oil companies and particularly everyone on the upstream end knows they're taking some risks, but BP gets people killed by cutting corners. That's what happened in Texas City in 2005 and it plays into everyone's understanding of what's happening now.

The fact that they're foreigners and presumably posh or whatever (because all Britons are posh! riiiight!) makes them easy to vilify in cartoon fashion. Hayward has played right into it with the whining about wanting his life back and his yacht races, too. But the underlying BP hate-on isn't about them being British, it's about the fact that in the balance between money and risking workers' lives and the environment and everything else, BP consistently chooses money and takes wild safety risks, risks that don't pan out, to make financial targets. It sucks to realize some of Granny's pension profits are based on shortcuts that killed people and caused environmental disasters, but when you get paid by the oil companies--and much of my life has been paid for that way too--or really any multinational or even just big US companies, that's always going to be true.
posted by immlass at 8:24 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


If he was, it would be the only time I have ever heard anyone use "Great British" as a synonym for "British".

This is Boris Johnson we're talking about here. He's said lots of things I've never heard anyone else say.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:33 AM on June 21, 2010


Dunno about Obama, but that Slate article, with its cracks about 'the famous British restraint' and 'His precise use of language, measured tone, and refusal to get too emotional marked the CEO of BP as indisputably British', could do with some international-relations coaching.

As a British citizen I'm perfectly prepared to join in kicking BP up hill and down dale for being a bunch of polluting bastards. Cracks about nationality really aren't the point, and they really aren't charming either. Let's all remember who's the actual enemy here.
posted by Kit W at 8:38 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Costs of Natural Gas, Including Flaming Water

Will New York Be the Next Casualty of the Halliburton Loophole?
posted by homunculus at 8:42 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


phooky : I'd always assumed that the "xenophobic Americans hating on the poor Brits" angle was manufactured by BP's PR department for public consumption in the UK.

I'm sure you're right, at least, in the sense that this is a manufactured controversy (I'll leave whether it is BP's PR or the press who should take the blame for others to decide), because, at least in my area, I'm hearing no anti-British rhetoric. People seem to be understanding that it's a sociopathic corporation (or, at the very least, the sociopathic corporate culture) at fault here, not the nation the company took its name from.
posted by quin at 8:44 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I did think this whole 'anti-British' thing was a load of old bollocks, but there does seem to be a smidgen of it on Metafilter recently.

Has it always been there, or am I just being over-sensitive to an unrepresentative handful of ruffians and scoundrels?

Regardless, it's just as silly to blame me for Brittanicated Petroleumation as it would be for me to blame all of you lovely Americans for having air force bases over here, stealing all our Great European confectionery brands and Sex and the City 2.

Oh, and for those that aren't clear, the worth of any of Boris Johnson's words is roughly equal to those of Sarah Palin.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 8:46 AM on June 21, 2010


I think we should go back to calling it the Anglo Iranian Oil Company.
posted by delmoi at 9:02 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


silly to blame ... you lovely Americans for ... Sex and the City 2

No, I think we as a nation need to own that one.

Actually, I suspect that the flag-waving blowhards of los EE. UU. would love to pin this fiasco on a bunch of effete yacht-racing scone-munchers; but they can't because every last one of them is completely beholden.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:04 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, it's that I'm used to the idea of a variable being re-bound to a new value with no "memory" of a previous value.

The real world isn't a computer program. (And it would suck even more if it were.)

It's all just marketing and branding bullshit. It's like how the letters A&M in Texas A&M officially no longer stand for anything.
posted by kmz at 9:27 AM on June 21, 2010


I apologize to the world for "Sex and the City 2."
posted by cjorgensen at 9:31 AM on June 21, 2010


It seems the Tea Party / Republican mainstream has adopted the notion that BP is a victim of a Chicago-style shakedown.

Even The Economist is getting in on the act, going so far as to call him "Vladimir Obama" (An Awl writer responds).

It should be noted that Bill O'Reilly is now more left-wing than the Republican mainstream.

So there you have it. Barack Obama is a useless, do-nothing President who hasn't done anything about the spill and is entirely in the pocket of BP and Big Oil, and simultaneously is a brutal, Chicago political/mafia style Putinistic thug who eschews due process to personally punish the hardworking executives at BP (he also single-handedly wrote, directed, starred in, and distributed Sex and the City 2).
posted by dirigibleman at 9:44 AM on June 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


These corporations are transnational, bigger than any government, beholden to no laws. Somehow businesses have grown into monstrosities, and short of open, armed warfare I can't think of any way to stop them.

In fact, being bigger than a nation can be a severe disadvantage to a transnational corporation. A company that exists in several nations is beholden not to the intersection of all their laws, but to the superset of them. The reason this hasn't affected more companies adversely is because they want their business, but all that is really needed to rein them in is for the nations to actually get serious about them. Nations tend to be a lot more heavily-armed than companies after all.
posted by JHarris at 9:48 AM on June 21, 2010


I thought "BP" stood for "Bumbling Prats".
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:52 AM on June 21, 2010


Nations tend to be a lot more heavily-armed than companies after all.

Well, some of them are anyway.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 10:01 AM on June 21, 2010


Excuse me, I've got to get some gas from Royal Dutch Shell so I can drive over to Royal Bank of Scotland in my Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki-gaisha car and get some cash to pay Deutsche Telekom Mobile and buy dinner at my local Yum! Foods Incorporated Taco Bell!

You know when you say it like that, it's clear we are living inside a late 80s cyberpunk novel.


That, or another execrable Thomas Friedman-penned bit of "analysis."
posted by joe lisboa at 10:06 AM on June 21, 2010


It's amazing to me that the republicans think complaining about the president getting "tough" with BP is somehow a winning issue for them. I mean. People want the president to get tough on BP and for the most part would think he's not.

But if republicans run around saying he's being too tough then people will actually believe it. And in the process republicans will look like huge pussies.
posted by delmoi at 10:06 AM on June 21, 2010


Actually I think we should call every company by its full name.

I always do this with Hennes and Moritz and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. Perhaps I should expand my repertoire.
posted by ob at 10:13 AM on June 21, 2010


I didn't even notice this, until I saw someone on FB asking what the British government were going to do in terms of compensation. Then I realised that some people actually think that this is a state-run company and not, in fact, a huge multinational. Indeed, it's the fourth largest company in the world. So yeah, fuck BP, but let's not get confused about what BP is and what BP isn't.
posted by ob at 10:16 AM on June 21, 2010


It's amazing to me that the republicans think complaining about the president getting "tough" with BP is somehow a winning issue for them.

"Tough" isn't how they frame it. If they don't frame it as "tough" and instead frame it as "beating up on BP!" or "anti-England-special-relationship!" or "driving corporations out of the US with barbaric socialist Marxism!" they will get mileage. Or enough mileage, anyhow.
posted by blucevalo at 10:20 AM on June 21, 2010


Actually, I find it extremely funny that no one is bothering to look into the history of the conglomerate that is BP. The company has been around for over a century and can be linked to the horrendous foreign policy of both the U.K. and the United States. BP was a major factor in the start of WWI and the driving force behind the Iranian coup led be Kermit Roosevelt Jr. to oust their democratically elected president in favor of the Shah of Iran in the 1950's, which was a direct cause of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which made Iran go all fundamentalist crazy. A lot of people call it conspiracy theory, but the evidence is out in the open and quite public.

Wiki links:
Kermit Roosevelt, Jr.
1953 Iranian coup d'etat
Iranian Revolution
Anglo-Persian Oil Company, antecedent of the modern BP.

A nice little comedy (I guess you can call it that) by Robert Newman , The History of Oil.
posted by daq at 11:07 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


he also single-handedly wrote, directed, starred in, and distributed Sex and the City 2)

He's history's greatest monster!
posted by kirkaracha at 11:08 AM on June 21, 2010


Thanks, homunculus. NYers, Find your representatives to contact here.
posted by Sweetdefenestration at 11:10 AM on June 21, 2010


Tony Hayward has a distinctive regional accent by the way.

He's from Slough, where BBC's The Office was set. There's no real Slough accent -- it's just outside London -- but quite a few natives have West Country-inflected accents. He does sound a bit like a West Country farmer to me. (Former Bath resident.)

But, you know, here in America, every English accent sound plummy. People here think Michael Caine is an Oxford grad, and he's a Cockney.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the dark underbelly of capitalism - utter disregard at the upper levels of anything other than profits. The larger the company, the larger the disregard. Accountability is really only crucial to small companies who need to be more responsive/responsible to compete.

Couple this with the unholy alliance of corporate money and influence with government toadies with pockets open and compliant pens at the ready, and the future is bleak. We have, plainly and simply, allowed corporations to morph into monster Medusas with no allegiances, while arming ourselves with flyswatters as insurance.

The truly sad thing here is anybody with brains has seen this coming for decades.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:35 AM on June 21, 2010


So... if I mow down a herd of Caribbean walruses while driving drunk in my Jag, is it my fault or is the fault of of the local constabulary whom I've been paying off... or maybe we should argue about just who owns Jaguar nowadays? or maybe it's on all of our shoulders for building those roads to drive around in cars in the first place.
Of course you're both guilty - but should it not be the consequences come down just as hard on the corrupt individual who allowed it to happen because public servants should be held to a higher standard than private individuals?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:38 AM on June 21, 2010


"I'd always assumed that the "xenophobic Americans hating on the poor Brits" angle was manufactured by BP's PR department for public consumption in the UK."

Yes! I love how the news is making it sound like the tanking of British Pensions is the fault of Obama using the full/former name of the company, rather than the fact that they invested in a shitty, polluting, evil company. Invest ethically, people. It's a fine line between a dividend and a bribe to look the other way.
posted by Eideteker at 11:45 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


75% of the US thinks Britain is just a formalized version of England.

To be fair, you guys haven't made it that easy to understand.
posted by Evilspork at 12:22 PM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Burning Sea Turtles Alive
posted by homunculus at 12:25 PM on June 21, 2010


As a British student with six months at a Louisiana university next year, I can't help but wonder how much flak, if any, I'm going to catch over this.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 12:37 PM on June 21, 2010


But, you know, here in America, every English accent sound plummy. People here think Michael Caine is an Oxford grad, and he's a Cockney.

And yet he played upper class in his first big role in Zulu. (Ca. one minute in)

As to corporate hate, Lucy Kellaway did interesting article in Friday's FT. Alas, not freely on line yet, but perhaps soon. Basic drift was how it has escalated since the seventies and most particularly since the last financial crash.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:34 PM on June 21, 2010


I always do this with Hennes and Moritz and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

I spent three hellish months working in a Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation call-centre. Rule One was not to tell curious customers that's what HSBC stood for. Instead we were told to say 'It doesn't stand for anything'.

As none of us had known what it stood for before they told us, I'm not sure why they bothered.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 1:42 PM on June 21, 2010


I'm really curious how this is going to play out at the next shareholders meeting for OIL (Oil Insurance Limited). BP,along with pretty much everyone else in the oil industry, is part of a OIL. It's the self-insurance program that will ultimately pay BP back the $20 billion it used to setup the fund, and whatever other bills we send them. Given the fact that this disaster is going to take money out of the pockets of all the members, methinks it likely they'll not be too happy with BP.
posted by nomisxid at 1:46 PM on June 21, 2010


Rule One was not to tell curious customers that's what HSBC stood for. Instead we were told to say 'It doesn't stand for anything'.

I was told the same thing when I worked for a call center for PPG Industries. We were instructed to say, "PPG stands for PPG".
posted by octothorpe at 4:43 PM on June 21, 2010


I was told the same thing when I worked for a call center for PPG Industries. We were instructed to say, "PPG stands for PPG".

Thanks a lot, Ben Roethlisberger!
posted by dirigibleman at 5:10 PM on June 21, 2010


Jon Stewart Exposes Republican Backpedaling Over BP's Escrow Fund
posted by homunculus at 9:29 PM on June 21, 2010


So anyone mention how Hilary Rosen is working for BP now as a lobbyist and media consultant.

Let's hope BP has as much success as the RIAA.
posted by delmoi at 10:55 PM on June 21, 2010


BP is blood pressure. As in "The corporation formerly known as British Petroleum is raising my BP".
posted by Goofyy at 5:54 AM on June 22, 2010


BP's Ex-Convict Brigade: In tiny Grand Isle, where the BP workers now outnumber the full-time residents, Rebecca Dana talks to locals fuming that ex-cons are among the cleanup workers and hears about unwanted advances, rising crime, and shout-filled town halls.
posted by homunculus at 10:33 AM on June 22, 2010


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