Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind

Boycott BP?

As one of those codgers who tend to think of "environmentalism" and its issues as mostly a ploy to impose more laws and regulations on a once-free people—another power grab by the advocates of big government—I've been somewhat surprised by my own indignation toward BP for the release of an unstoppable oil gusher on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico and the often seeming blazé attitude toward it and their culpability for it. I've even thought that if the company does not correct its way the United States might prohibit the company from doing business in this country for a generation or so. Part of this would be a requirement that BP's American subsidiaries, most notably Amoco in the midwest and east and Arco in the west, be cut loose to operate as independent American-based companies again. But a longer look suggests that this probably would not work and it might be that BP's offer to put $20 billion in escrow for addressing the effects of the "leak" may be the best we can hope for at this point.

Cutting subsidiaries loose to form new companies is not unusual these days, so that scenario is not far-fetched. A few years ago Westinghouse Electric got control of CBS broadcasting. The new larger company quickly decided that between the two brands, CBS was the better known and more marketable, so it changed the parent company name to CBS instead of Westinghouse. Then it sold its electric businesses to other companies so that Westinghouse now is a much smaller company operating within much larger Japanese (or "multinational") conglomerates. The same scenario played out again with CBS and Viacom only a matter of months later.

But with BP-Amoco-Arco, it is more complicated. BP acquired Arco primarily, I gather, to get control of the biggest producing oil fields in Alaska. And if Arco was cut loose, BP's ownership of the Alaskan fields would not be likely to go with it. Pushing the issue would be likely to become an international crisis between the United States and England. So, having been stripped of its major supply of crude, where would Arco get its product? At best it would have to buy from the same suppliers companies like Sheetz depend on (and it's quite possible that BP is one of those), but if there would be enough to supply Arco's demand, it would surely come at higher fuel costs at the pumps. (Arco is the largest seller of gasoline in California, because it has been, for at least a generation, the lower-price retailer compared with Chevron, Shell, Union Oil, Mobil, and Valero.)

I read in today's news that many consumers, especially in Florida, are boycotting BP stations as their way of protesting the disaster the company has visited in their part of the country. This is understandable, but unfortunately, almost all of the people hurt because of such boycots will be Americans who probably cannot afford to own stock in BP. These are the employees of the gas stations that sell BP but are owned by American business entrepreneurs and staffed by people desperately in need of work in a very hard economy.

Jon Stewart on his "fake news" Comedy Central Daily Show on Wednesday ran clips of every one of the past eight Presidents of the United States showing that every one of them said almost exactly the same words about freeing our country from its dependence on "foreign oil" that President Obama repeated on his Tuesday address. And among them, Stewart must have had to bite his tongue to say it, Richard Nixon was the only one who actually accomplished some major government responses to the problem (but to codgers like me, "accomplishment" here is debatable...Nixon's major innovation was the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency).

— Webmaster Jon Kennedy



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Jon Kennedy's latest book is The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia, now in stores, from Adams Media, F&W Publications. From May 9, 2007 through July 2, 2008 his blog entries or "Jonals" were articles inspired by readings in Lewis's work that didn't fit into the book. Click here for a list of all articles in the C.S. Lewis Overflow series. The book is available for purchase in support of the Liberty Museum in Nanty Glo and is also available on Amazon.



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