Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oil Rigs, Technology and Accountability

What we have here is a situation perpetrated by a leadership that would immediately fire subordinates who did the same kind of mistake in the function of their jobs. And yet, no one is arrested for negligence, the owners are not stripped of their property, the managers/directors are not fired from their positions.

If you lived in an apartment and caused such a disaster, you would be arrested immediately. If you owned a house and caused such a disaster, your property would be seized immediately. If you were a superintendent of an apartment complex and your decision caused this kind of disaster, you would be fired immediately. I guess if you are rich, you can get away with murder.

Problem 1
Oil rigs in North America do not have to have a specific safety valve unless they are being built in the Arctic. This is nonsensical, if the technology exists for extra safety, why do we make it an optional device? Imagine, cars sold to rich people will have airbags and safety belts while cars sold to poor people will only have a basic plastic frame with no airbags and no safety belts. Houses sold to rich people will have locks on their doors and windows, apartments rented by poor people will have the option of doors and windows if they pay extra..... even more so if you want to have locks on them. The Arctic will have safety valves because the environment is more precious over there than elsewhere.

Pour some salt on the injury and insult the the wounded: Before the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, oil companies were trying to convince the government to allow them to build oil rigs without safety valves in the Arctic because no one had ever had an accident in the other oil rigs in the other areas of North America. Why are they even allowed to propose this in a rational setting? Imagine a group of engineers asking permission to build bridges which can fall apart during a windstorm because the wind "rarely" blows above 50 miles per hour and they want to save on material costs.

Problem 2
We build a technological wonder because we can and because it can bring us some material benefits but we don't have any way of correcting any disaster if something dangerous happens. Imagine building a 20 floor building with 3 outstanding elevators but no stairs. Oh dear, a fire has struck the building, how will the people get out with the electricity cut? Or imagine that you buy the most technologically advanced car that no one can repair if it ever breaks down..... and your engine has just spurt its last spurt....

The oil companies that have built this oil rig did not have included in its design plans ways to circumvent problems that could arise. So when the widget, that did not have its safety valve, finally exploded and caused all this oil to come gushing out... no one had a clue how to stop it because nothing was designed into the system for such an accident. And yet somehow, we continued to build oil rigs without A)safety valves and B)without corrective devices to limit accidental damages. These people who allow this have a higher salary than most of us? Why?

Problem 3
Twenty odd days later and accumulating, we still haven't found a way to stop this oil spill. The main oil company who is responsible for this is enthusiastically informing us that they will cover the expenses of the cleanup and pay damages incurred. Are you telling me that they are insinuating that they actually have a choice to refuse to pay the cleanup cost and the damages? Imagine the drunk driver proudly proclaiming that he will submit himself to a criminal trial for having hit a passerby with his vehicle while drunk and that he will pay for any medical expenses that the victim suffered. And the experts who love to criticize politicians for any wrongdoings turn and agree with each other that the oil company should be applauded for taking responsibility.

The engineers still have no idea how to solve this situation..... Before implementing a technology into our world, should we not have spent time in determining how to correct potential problems like this one? Imagine sending humans to the Moon and forgetting that we have to find a way to bring them back to Earth and we try to solve that problem after the humans have landed on the Moon and want to come back.

Problem 4
"We did not fail to stop the leak, we just did not succeed in our attempt to correct the problem." and only John Stewart or Stephen Colbert can mock the individuals who said those statements at the latest attempts to stop the gushing oil leak which is currently destroying our environment? Why are the journalists and the politicians so polite with these individuals who make obviously self-contradictory statements and who admit that they have no immediate solutions to the problems that they created?

Would a boss tolerate an employee that says "I did not arrive late, I just did not arrive in the time scheduled."? Note that this fictional employee is transforming the language of responsibility from himself to the boss. If the employee admits being late, then he is responsible for this action. If the employee can convince the boss that his arrival did not fit the scheduled time then it is the schedule which is at fault and not the employee.... hence it is the boss who invented the schedule who should be responsible in accommodating the employee's arrival. Well if we don't tolerate this from the majority of the population, why are we tolerating it from its supposed leaders?

This entire situation is yet another example of rushing in somewhere without thinking of the consequences. Capitalism wants you to move without thinking so that you can get the profit before the slow guy next to you. Capitalism works if you are a small owner and the extent of your ownership is a family farm. Capitalism can not work with technology that can manipulate our genetic structure, technology that can transform an environment as easily as a volcano and with ownership structures that surpass political nations.

We have allowed money to dictate to us our moral standards. If we can save money to make more profit then we are successful. Explosion in an oil rig? oops, just a temporary "financial" setback..... we will just throw money at some engineer to fix the problem and throw money to clean up the spill and then we will continue to make profit tomorrow.

Our current capitalism will cost us more in the long term for a short term benefit. Consumers can not solve this problem, Citizens can solve this problem. Put Capitalism under the complete control of Democracy before Capitalism buys out our Democracy from under us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If we could get competent people to fix the problem and prevent these ones for ever getting a job related to something nocive as oil... just like pedophiles can't go near chilsdren... I'd force them to make environment research for the rest of their life, preventing others to do such stupid mistakes.