Fessing Up

Earlier today, my grandpa was telling me about an incident that his company had once encountered with another company, with whom his company had genial relations. It was clear that one of the companies had made a pretty significant error and money had been lost by the other company. “It’s not about whether or not a company makes mistakes,” my grandpa said to me, “It’s about how they recognize and fix those mistakes to avoid them in the future.”

Yes, there’s been a media outcry for Obama to get “mad”. Yes, offshore drilling has become a more controversial issue than ever. Yes, leaders of both parties have fiercely reprimanded BP. But all those things happened rather quickly and have hardly affected the situation in the gulf in any practical way.

At the first congressional hearing after the explosion, BP America’s President blamed Transocean for the explosion because BP had contracted them. Transocean was at fault, the BP president said, because they were the “owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig,” and they had “responsibility for the safety of the drilling operation.” The CEO of Transocean said that it was Halliburton’s fault, because Halliburton had provided the cement casing for the safeties on the rig. Then, the representative of Halliburton said that no, it wasn’t Halliburton’s fault, because the cement casing would have worked perfectly, had blow-out protector on the rig been intact.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we’re nowhere.

My grandpa was right. When no one takes responsibility or fesses up to their mistakes (which, by the way, all three of these companies made), the process cannot be improved and it becomes impossible for congress or the president to make laws that will prevent the problem in the future. BP, Transocean, and Halliburton have barely expressed publicly what they’ll do in the future to prevent further problems. Does that mean that they won’t do anything to prevent this in the future? Are they only worried about restoring their public image? All three companies have spent their time making sure that it looks like the explosion was not their fault.

In the same way that Obama waited much too long to get to the South, it’s BP has waited much too long to acknowledge its mistakes. (Keep in mind– to emphasize this point– that BP’s first move after the explosion was to force every one of the exhausted, disheveled, confused workers on the rig to sign a contract which exonerated BP of any responsibility. Then, BP scurried through small southern coastal towns and got residents to sign pre-written agreements that capped the amount of money that BP would have to pay for any damage done to the citizens’ environment.)

“It’s not about whether or not a company makes mistakes, it’s about how they recognize and fix those mistakes to avoid them in the future.”


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