If you want to see a rank example of the unhealthy symbiosis between Big Government and Big Business, consider this morning’s announcement by BP that “it will set up a $100 million charitable fund to support unemployed oil rig workers experiencing economic hardship due to the deepwater drilling moratorium imposed by the Obama administration.”
At first glance, you might say, this is a good thing: a penitent corporation doing charity to help people harmed, at least indirectly, by its actions. But let’s count the things wrong with this picture.
First, there is little doubt that BP is doing this, at least to some extent, due to explicit or implicit pressure from, or desire to buy off trouble from, the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats. It’s the invisible foot of a government with a known propensity to monkey in the marketplace – companies learn to act defensively to cater to political favor rather than focusing on being profitable businesses by serving their customers.
Second, if BP was solely bowing to political pressure by assisting people it’s harmed, that would be one thing. But what it’s doing here is assisting people the Democrats have harmed, by a moratorium on offshore drilling by companies other than BP. In other words, the Democrats have used the leverage of fear of government to get BP to pay to cover up the damage caused by their own policies.
Third, consider this dynamic in the context of the vastness of BP (the company’s size is the only reason it hasn’t been run out of business by the spill). Other oil companies are big, too, but not everyone in the industry is on the same scale as BP, and equally able to buy off an angry government or weather the storm of the moratorium. This entire process of shaking down companies for political favor is designed with large corporations in mind – if you’re a smaller business, you’re not worth shaking down (or can’t afford the extra burdens of unionized workforces and heavy regulatory obligations on top of paying off politicians) and can be left to whither on the vine as collateral damage of insane economic policy.
Fourth, OK, BP has helped the oil workers. What about other innocent parties? What about the retirees across Britain whose pensions are heavily funded by BP stock? What about consumers who are denied access to the oil? And even as to the workers – is it really a fair substitute to give working men charity instead of the opportunity and dignity of earning a living with their own hands?
Fifth, are we 100% certain that BP has adequate resources to pay everyone directly injured by the spill? Maybe we are, but one of the reasons to be skeptical of greenlighting a run-on-the-bank attitude towards wrongdoing corporations is that sometimes, in the stampede, there ends up not being enough money left for the people with the most legitimate claims (the long, sad story of asbestos litigation at times illustrated this).
We have seen this, over and over and over again under this Administration, in industry after industry: a combination of coercion and collusion that amounts to a protection racket run by Democratic politicians to grant favor on large, pliable corporations and their executives in exchange for money going where the Democrats want it – to Big Labor and other favored constituencies, to support for Democratic legislative priorities, to campaign cash and personal enrichment. It’s fundamentally corrupt, and it needs to end.