Cleve Francis
cardiologist, musician

Cleve Francis

Cardiologist; President, Mount Vernon Cardiology Associates, Alexandria, Va.; musician.

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The buck stops here

Q: As oil surges into the Gulf of Mexico for the fourth week, BP's leader steadfastly refuses to take the blame for the collapse of a well. CEO Tony Hayward blames one of its suppliers, and says he's "absolutely confident that we can bounce back." It's not only a PR battle, but one for the ecology and economy of an entire region. What are Hayward's mistakes, and if you were in his shoes, what would you do differently? How do you forge success from disaster?

Oil drilling is very complicated business and drilling in the middle of an ocean is probably even more complex. Few of us know the real nuts and bolts of this industry. Like other complex industries, it appears that there is a lot of outsourcing to various companies that have specific expertise.

It is okay for Mr. Hayward to point the finger internally at any of the component players on the BP payroll, but the buck stops with the parent company that hired these folks in the first place. It is time to step up to the plate and take responsibility and participate in the solution of this unfortunate natural disaster.

The other level of responsibility is in our own regulatory agencies responsible for ensuring that the oil drilling process and companies allowed to drill are held to a standard to protect the environment and the people being served.

By Cleve Francis  |  May 20, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Comeback attempts Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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As far as drilling at all, the buck stops with the American people. The majority want the drilling because they need the oil at affordable prices. As a nation we are utterly and completely dependant on oil for our very lives. Doesn't matter foreign or domestic oil, it's oil and we need it. It would be nice if we didn't need as much of it but we aren't very good at doing without something unless we have to. And, pretty soon, no matter what, we will have to do without just because we will run out of places to economically exploit for oil. Are we getting ready for that day - not really.

OK, having said that, the US Government is who we entrust to monitor the companies that we allow (and encourage) to drill for the oil we so desperately need. They fell down on the job.

Having said that, BP screwed up and should be punished. But, it would be idiocy to have any expectations that BP would do anything other than trying to maximize profits as that is the one and only mission of a corporation. That is why corporations exist. The theory is that in the course of maximizing profits they maximize resource extraction so that then we can maximize consumption thereby maximizing economic activity which makes us all happy.

If we ever want to reduce this type of thing (detroying environment to extract resources to maximize consuption...) we would have to move from an economy that seeks to maximize consumption to one that seeks to maximize sustainability. This means the end to "growth" as a good measure of economic activity. Nobody in any position of national power even has that on their radar.

Posted by: dinopello | May 24, 2010 11:56 AM
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Does not work that way. BP knew the risks were too great to even attempt drilling unless the Federal Govt. capped their liability. The Federal Govt. (& Congress) knew that BP would not buy the lease unless it capped the risks.

BP's liability is capped, it does not need to pay a dime over the limit. That was the deal from day 1. If the Govt. had not made that deal, there would not be an oil spill because BP would not have taken the risk.

Posted by: wmboyd | May 24, 2010 7:24 AM
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