719 Speaking Clumsily
Carl Henric Svanberg must somehow be related to Leona Helmsley, the Queen of Mean, hotel maven and known for the quote "Only the little people pay taxes." Svanberg is chairman of British Petroleum and told America the other day that he likes, respects and wants to safeguard the "Small People." Later, he apologized for "speaking clumsily" in his general mea culpa to all of us affected by the oil geyser in the Gulf of Mexico, which is all of us.
Maybe we should cut him some slack because he's not a native speaker of American English. On second thought, nah. He has enough flunkies to read his comments before he delivers them, and surely some of them know the language.
His apology had an insincere ring reminiscent of Leona's rantings. People speak clumsily all the time. But we Small People resent it when we're all lumped together with everyone with less money than Leona and Gates and Buffett and Carlos Slim and Mike Bloomberg and the Walton family. After all, we're the guys who keep BP and its rivals (or co-conspirators) in business.
Some have called for the federal government to take control of BP. That same government has done such a fine job taking over General Motors and some banks, that maybe they should nationalize the thing. Then combine it with GM and AIG. Form a new mega-conglomerate. Call it G-Paig. It'll confuse all the former lobbyists on the boards of the so-called regulatory agencies, it'll confuse Wall St. It'll confuse the lobbyists who haven't yet made the transition from bag men to federal agents. And it will confuse the Small People.
No. Wait. The Small People already are confused. Mystified, maybe. The latest nonsense comes from BP's CEO, Tony Hayward, who says it's too early to tell what caused the initial explosion. No it ain't. It was caused by cheapness. It was caused by watching the bottom line more carefully than watching the hardware. And the people. It was caused by slapdash construction on the run. And it was caused by conducting an experiment in deep sea drilling before knowing how it worked.
Hayward is British. So no slack for him on destroying the language, either.
--Here's to representative Joe Barton (R-TX,) top House recipient of oil industry campaign contributions and who apologized to the chairman of BP for what he called the government "shakedown" of the oil company. The Republicans were so incensed that they threatened to strip him of his seniority on the energy and commerce committee. But then, congenial old Joe apologized for the apology, so everything's just fine now.
--The minerals agency that should have had a handle on this whole BP situation was founded by Reagan's interior secretary James Watt. A perfect example of how Republicans can "regulate" by putting industry officials and lobbyists in charge of watching the chicken coop. But that's not the worst of Watt's wackiness. This is the guy who wanted all but almost unrestricted wood cutting and ranching on federal lands, something even Reagan didn't like.
--Drill, baby, drill! From now on, unrestricted oil drilling. But the drillers need to be oil executives and the drills need to be electric and the drilling needs to be done while both driller and drill are submerged.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®