A Gulf Coast disaster has again shocked an entire nation. The callous corporate disregard for safety, workers' lives and environmental devastation is infuriating and mind-boggling.
In March 2005, 15 workers lost their lives in an unnecessary explosion at the BP refinery in Texas City. Eleven workers are presumed dead from this latest explosion.
Investigations into the 2005 explosion indicated that BP decided it was cheaper to pay the possible fines than to follow OSHA safety guidelines.
The oil rig continues to leak oil into the Gulf and threatens to destroy the coastal environment of Louisiana, just as the area is beginning to recover from the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina.
It is clear that the damages inflicted on the Gulf Coast by these two incidents are inestimable and the people of the area will suffer for many years to come. Some say the economic impact of the disaster on Louisiana will be catastrophic.
The government is in another position of having to "bailout" these mega-corporations. This time it's BP.
Just like with the banks, if the refineries and energy corporations were publicly owned, adequate safety standards could be maintained so that workers' lives and the environment could be saved and economic disaster avoided.
Instead of the profits being gobbled up for private gain, they could be reinvested in the communities and the larger social-environmental fabric of the country, plus investment for research into green energy sources.
Plus such profits could go to the current clean-up and previous environmental disasters that have left many Gulf Coast communities in ruin.
It's a positive step that President Obama has said unequivocally that BP is going to pay for the clean-up and damage. But a 1990 law capped the damage an oil company would be responsible for to a mere $75 million. That's a Big Oil bailout!
Why should we, the people, continue to have to shell out for these private-profit-driven corporations? It's disaster capitalism! It's time for the people to run things.
Photo: Tony Phan, left, and his father, Lanh, wait outside of a BP claims center for Tony's mother, Lai Nguyen, not pictured, the captain of their commercial fishing fleet, in Boothville, La., May 9. Nguyen was making a claim with BP representatives for work lost due to the growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Patrick Semansky/AP)