Thinking About Protesting At Your Local BP?

You’re not alone. There are–literally–tens of hundreds of you out there right now, plotting ways in which to make your voice heard in regards to the oil spill. You’re mad, and you’re not going to take it anymore. In your mind, the corporate greed of BP was enough to create the massive environmental disaster in the gulf. Their desire to earn, earn, and earn some more took precedence over everything else, including the safety and well‐being of the region. Somebody has to pay! That’s why you’re going down to the local station.

Step 1 There will be cameras. Photographers for sure, but perhaps a local news channel on a slow news day will show up. Find an appropriate outfit for the occasion. Something tasteful perhaps, not too colorful, as the occasion is indeed quite somber. If the weather is warm, a pair of short pants may be the ticket.

Step 2 Come up with a really great slogan to put on your sign. You need to let others know that you’re witty and socially aware when you protest. Something like “BP = Selfish Greed” is the shit…tiest one you could use, mostly because it doesn’t really jive with the whole two letters equals two words beginning with those letters motif. Why not “BP = Barn Poop.” At least that makes a little bit of sense.

Step 3 So, is it time to head on down? Should you really protest?

First off: don’t do it. Your message may be the right one for your cause, but you’re inflicting economic harm on the wrong people in most instances. Owners of gas stations, whether they are BP or Citgo, are not tied to those corporations. They’re more like fast food franchises in that they purchase their fuel from the parent corporation. Essentially, by the time you’re out there protesting, you’re really harming the owner of the station, as well as its employees, more than the parent corporation, which I would hope is not your goal. Hurting local business is really a very negative thing if you’re concerned about the welfare of your community.

Second, if your cause is to make the government move towards asset seizure, then your cause is wrong. Where in the hell do we live? When in history class did you learn that one of our founding principles was the asset seizure of entities that inflicted economic harm from a situation that can only be described as an accident? Just because contingency plans are inadequate does not make the corporation criminally negligent. They may be liable for clean up, which is likely to lead to bankruptcy, but government seizure seems antithetical to our notions of what ‘property rights’ mean. Another topic perhaps?

However, if BP is guilty of skirting the law, we must absolutely prosecute them and all of those involved in said activity, and make decisions on the future of the company in the United States based on the findings of the case rather than a knee jerk reaction to what we might feel in response to the massive disaster we’re experiencing.

Lastly, keep on protesting abusive and illegitimate corporate practices, but learn to recognize what those practices are and what they aren’t. Our government is often in bed with corporate interests that are harmful, simply because of the campaign money that is involved, and so it is difficult to rely on government for proper regulation. Voting with dollars is your best bet. I recognize the hypocrisy of this statement in light of what I’ve written above, but in terms of economic effect, this will have a greater impact if you’re not spending money on the right things.

I also want to address this rather interesting situation we’re experiencing with the six month moratorium on drilling: the current administration is making the claim that BP should be held responsible for the wages that workers affected by the government ordered moratorium have lost. They say BP is at fault for the wages lost during the government imposed work stoppage. I’m not sure that I really understand the logic here.

Blame a corrupt government, a corrupt regulatory process, and a corporation that did not have a proper contingency plan in place, but do not think BP evil for this disaster.