Friday, June 11, 2010

Britain haz a sad.


The British people -- especially its leaders and press -- would like their American cousins to know that they have had quite enough of this "anti-British rhetoric", thank you very much.  They are exceedingly aware that the whole business in the Gulf is beastly, but would like to inform us that all this "BP Bashing" is causing BP's stock to crash in a way that rather hurts their pocketbooks.

Hmmm.

Well, I suppose there is that angle to the story, but it hardly seems to be the most pressing issue at the moment.  And, whereas most reasonably-minded Americans would place varying degrees of blame on our lax regulatory system, there is still the small issue of BP's safety violations overwhelmingly dwarfing those of American companies.  The Conservatives seem to be doing to most chest-thumping, but at least one Labour MP suggested that:

yes, it was a British company that made this mistake, but if they were subject to a regulatory regime in the UK they wouldn't have been able to do that and the world's insatiable appetite for oil was the cause of this, not British pensioners.

If I'm reading this correctly, this no doubt well-informed person seems to be arguing that BP, fully cognizant of what is expected of it in its home country, is apparently incapable of self-policing in less-stringent regulatory situations...and, well, capitalists will be capitalists [wink, wink, nudge, nudge].  Are we talking about an oil company, here, are a band of soccer fans roughing up some stadium on the Continent!?

And can we please leave Gran out of it?  Presumably, non-Britons of all ages own BP stock.

The truth is: there is plenty of blame to go around with this mess on both sides of the ocean, but the rising tide of umbrage in the corridors of power in London is silly.  Can you imagine what the reaction would be if an American company were responsible for befouling [insert place-name here]?  I know the company's name actually has the word "British" in it, but it's been a completely privately-held concern since the Thatcher days.  Perhaps the British have gotten too used to the Americans being the "bad guys"...they've been lulled into that pleasant feeling of not being hated all the time, like the Danes or the Portuguese.  Whatever the reason, I hope David Cameron doesn't let himself get brow-beaten by his Party's pride of lions or the rabble-rousers on Fleet Street into getting on Barack's bad side so soon after taking office. That would surely be counter-productive.