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Another Layoff — Why Now?
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Another Layoff

If you can control your gag reflex, the BBC tells us what happens when a CEO gets laid off:

BP is set to announce a record loss, having set aside an estimated £16bn-£19bn ($25bn-$30bn) to cover the costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The loss is expected to be one of the biggest in British corporate history.

The BBC has learnt BP chief executive Tony Hayward will get an immediate annual pension worth about £600,000 ($930,000) when he leaves in October.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said that Mr Hayward’s pension entitlement was “bound to be hugely controversial”.

Our business editor said that because he was leaving by mutual agreement rather than being sacked, the BP board felt it had “to honour the terms of its contract with him”.

Mr Hayward will receive a year’s salary plus benefits worth more than £1m.

His pension pot is valued at about £11m and he will keep his rights to shares under a long-term performance scheme which could – depending on BP’s stock market recovery – eventually be worth several million pounds.

The corporation tanks under his watch and he gets more than $1.5 million in severance, and almost a million dollars per year in his pension, rather than any unpaid wages and an application for unemployment for 26 weeks.

Isn’t it touching how executive pensions are sacred, while the pensions of workers are for looting and elimination.


1 Steve Bates { 07.27.10 at 10:18 am }

Ah, such faith in science, David… I wonder why you don’t display the same on issues like global climate change. In this case, faith is required, because Prof. Overton has a background with an angle, as we all do. It is always important to note the slant.

Overton’s entire education, undergrad through PhD, was at U. Alabama… not to criticize UA, but in the US, people don’t generally pursue their entire education at one institution.

Of his research interests, the LSU site says, “Environmental analytical chemistry; technology transfer and commercialization; chemical hazard response and assessment.” Then it links the institute he works for at LSU: “Chemical Hazard Response and Assessment.”

Of Overton himself, the site notes, “The Department of Environmental Sciences (DES) at Louisiana State University developed a Response and Chemical Assessment Team (RCAT) to respond to chemical and oil spills, principally in marine environments. DES/RCAT, under the direction of Dr. Edward Overton, has provided reliable and timely chemical support to NOAA-HAZMAT for over twenty years…”

In other words, this man’s entire livelihood, for his entire professional life, has been in oil & gas HAZMAT cleanup. An honorable profession? no doubt. A profession that would vanish if there were no oil spills? Heh. Decide for yourself.

I’m not saying Overton is either incompetent or dishonest; he may well be neither. I just can’t help remembering Upton Sinclair’s famous line: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” [Bang original.]

David, IIRC, you have one or more kids living in this world; oil spills are bad for them in several ways. Perhaps you’d better modify Bobby McFerrin’s charming song: Don’t worry; be happy Be worried, not happy!

2 Bryan { 07.27.10 at 11:50 am }

1. You can’t find what you aren’t looking for – BP has canceled funding for the water sampling that tracks the underwater oil, but Florida universities and research institutes are still tracking it. NOAA has been a reluctant participant in the sampling because of budget constraints.

2. Just as the oil in salad dressing seems to disappear when you shake the bottle, it is well known that a storm like Bonnie churns the surface of the water and breaks up the obvious oil slicks. If you want to see the oil dig down a foot on any of the beaches of the Gulf Coast, or stick a probe into the wetland marshes.

3. They don’t track all of the oil contained in the dead sea life that continues to wash up on our beaches. It is in their gills and stomachs.

4. The blue fin tuna which spawns in the area of the well is probably wiped out, as it was already under stress. Several other species that are the mainstays of the Gulf seafood industry may also be gone, as the dispersant laden plumes that constitute half of the output of the well are settling on the bottom and destroying the plants that represent the bottom of the food chain.

5. You can clean up the oil on surface with a number of known technologies, but there are no technologies to clean up the plumes. They will continue to kill all of the sea life that encounters them and the blooms of oil-eating microbes to deplete the oxygen in the Gulf creating ever larger dead zones in the water.

You can’t see, smell, or taste oxygen, but if it isn’t there you are dead. You can’t see, smell, or taste methane, but it blew up a multimillion dollar drilling rig and killed 11 people. Just because you can’t see it easily, doesn’t mean the oil is gone.

3 paintedjaguar { 07.27.10 at 1:25 pm }

This rotten ABC story is so typical of the corporate media, too disingenuous for words. Out of sight, out of mind — that’s the right-wing/corporate worldview in a nutshell, isn’t it? By the way, has everyone already forgotten the leaked oil from other sites that was found while they were looking for the Deepwater stuff?

Here’s a fact: fisheries all around the world have been seriously depleted, in some cases destroyed for all practical purposes. Anyone who’s opened a can of the sorry mush that passes for tuna nowadays ought to understand that what used to be an abundant and relatively cheap food source is increasingly more rare and expensive. How much of the damage was caused by simple overfishing and how much by pollution such as oil spills? No one really knows. Does that mean no one should worry about it?

4 Bryan { 07.27.10 at 2:36 pm }

It would be crass of me to mention that ABC is a subsidiary of Disney which benefited initially when people who would go to the beach went to Disney World instead, and then decided it should stop talking about the spill because it was depressing vacations to Florida, so it minimized the effects of the spill. Good little corporate tools who perform as their masters require.

I don’t read or reference the ABC news site as they have been the farm team for Fox News for some time.

I feed mackerel to the feral cats and the price has jumped from $1/can to $1.68 in about a year. Given that was a year when there was supposedly 0% inflation, it reflects the scarcity of the fish. Pretty soon all that will be left is the poisonous, diseased farm fish from Asia.

5 Steve Bates { 07.27.10 at 4:33 pm }

Wretched answer, David, and I suspect you know it. Try again: would Overton have work in HAZMAT, if there were no spills of hazardous material? Right. The answer is simple, and the answer is NO.

Not having any oil? That’s been an inevitability since Day One. The only question is when. The sooner we’re out of the oil business, the better chance we have of being able to eat, drink and breathe.

Yes, I think BP handled it badly. It’s in the corporate DNA to handle such things badly, and they’ll use anyone… private sector or government… who can help them do so. Overton did just that. If “shit happens,” as you so colorfully put it, maybe there should be working toilets in place before it does.

And…. David… we are drowning in oil; you’re not. You are not here to experience it, so why don’t you just shut the fuck up? Ruined beaches, ruined livelihoods and ruined food supplies for probably decades are beyond politics (BP). Or would you prefer to trade places with Gulf Coast fishermen for a while? Yeah, right… suuuuure you would.

6 Bryan { 07.27.10 at 8:57 pm }

If wildfires occur and have been caused by people, those people are charged with crimes, including murder when someone dies in the fire.

The declining oil supplies are only a problem for those who refuse to adapt. My grandfather grew up with no dependence on oil, and societies survived during World War II with a notable scarcity of fuel for all but the military. Adapt or die, it’s the way things have always worked.

My area was protected by a plan developed by the military, and utilizing local government resources. All BP provided was delay and interference. At some point they are supposed to supply money to pay for what had to be done, but we haven’t seen it yet. BP has been more intrusive and less competent than even FEMA under Bush II which puts the bar so low that the average person can walk over it without noticing anything. The cap that worked was designed by a plumber, not BP. BP hasn’t done anything that the government couldn’t have done, because the work was carried out by contractors, and the government definitely knows how to hire contractors.

This was not “an act of nature”. Nature is not in the habit of drilling holes through miles of rock, and the existence of the miles of rock makes the case that Nature thought the oil should have been buried.

In addition to the oil, the well has been venting methane which is a greenhouse gas 20 times worse than carbon dioxide. It also dissolves in water, displacing oxygen and killing sealife. To make a profit, BP has murdered an ecosystem. No matter what BP pays, the weregild won’t be high enough to cover the loss.

Between this screw up and what is happening to them in Russia with TNK-BP, BP is probably finished as a viable corporation. The rumor is that Hayward is being transferred to TNK-BP which sets him up to the scapegoat for both disasters.

7 cookie jill { 07.27.10 at 11:19 pm }
8 Bryan { 07.28.10 at 1:58 pm }

I saw that, and a wellhead has been struck on a lake in Louisiana by a barge two boat, and BP as a couple of spills in Alaska on the pipeline from the North Slope.