Thursday, June 3, 2010

Whose Day Was it to Watch the Boss?

Thinking about the BP oil spill in the Gulf and the incredibly stupid statement by CEO Tony Hayward, who told NBC Sunday, "There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I'd like my life back."

In addition to the fact that the statement is undoubtedly untrue - anyone whose living depends upon the formerly crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico surely "wants this thing over" more than Hayward, who, between salary and bonus reportedly makes nearly 2.5 million Euros per year. That's, what, somewhere in the neighborhood of three million dollars annually?

Contrast that with charter captains and fishermen and hotel and restaurant employees who depend upon tourism and who, if there's no fishing or tourism to be had, will all be making considerably less than three million dollars a year. Like, say, nothing.

The bloated ego on display by a man who, at various times since the Deepwater Horizon blew up has said the environmental impact of the disaster would be "very modest," and that the spill was "relatively tiny" in comparison to the size of the ocean, is unbelievable. To then go on national television and declare it's about time to end this thing because it's becoming a distraction at the country club is outrageous.

To be fair, Hayward has since apologized. Duh.

It must have taken, oh, I don't know, maybe three seconds for BP's overworked public relations specialists to see the quote and go into overdrive working on the retraction. Make that five minutes: Three seconds to see the quote and pass out from the shock of seeing their boss's idiocy on public display, ninety seconds to regain consciousness and stagger to the computer, and three-and-a-half minutes to formulate some sort of half-assed excuse and patently insincere apology.

People have been calling for Hayward's resignation; that seems to be a fait accompli - he's a dead man walking, the only question is when the BP Board of Directors will decide the time is right to pull the trigger. The real question is, why isn't anyone going to jail?

Think about it - if eleven people had died because of your negligence, don't you think you would be cooling your heels in a jail cell by the time six weeks had passed? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Hayward should be held criminally responsible, only that someone should be.

And perhaps in time, someone will be. The focus thus far has been on the efforts to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf, all of which have failed as miserably as Tony Hayward's attempts at damage control. But if it can be proven the people at the highest levels of the BP food chain were aware of the lack of quality control that resulted in this disaster, then corner offices and the insulation provided by wealth and influence should not be allowed to prevent justice from being done.

Time will tell. In the meantime, Tony Hayward shouldn't worry too much. He'll have plenty of time to "get his life back" after BP cuts him loose. And he won't be CEO-ing again any time soon - he's going to be as toxic in the corporate world as the water getting flooded with oil out in the Gulf.

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