BP and Other Robber Barons: We Reject Your Apology; We Demand Change

"As a consequence of this agreement, the BP Board has reviewed its dividend policy. Notwithstanding BP's strong financial and asset position, the current circumstances require the Board to be prudent and it has therefore decided to cancel the previously declared first quarter dividend scheduled for payment on 21st June, and that no interim dividends will be declared in respect of the second and third quarters of 2010.

The Board remains strongly committed to the payment of future dividends and delivering long term value to shareholders."

BP, along with apologizing to our nation, also notified its stockholders to stop expecting dividend payouts for many quarters to come. It's a sign of our times and corporate priorities that at the moment of the televised apology, the company's statement on its website seemed more concerned with shareholders than it did with the tragic circumstances at hand. See the full statement here.

Simple apologies -- even billion dollar ones to television viewers by the BP executives -- are not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to stop off-shore US drilling and send our pollution to other fragile areas of our precious planet.

We simply must put an end to the wanton depletion of oil and other resources for bottom-line gain.

And let's not forget just a few of many other examples:

  • Chevron reported that its first quarter profits this year had soared to record highs, up by 148%, and that it is headed toward an annual profit of nearly20 billion. Chevron is the company that has consistently refused to clean up the mess its subsidiary, Texaco, made in the Ecuadorian Amazon where it knowingly and intentionally dumped more than 18 times the Exxon Valdez oil spill (and at this writing more than 300 times the BP spill) into the rainforests, killing untold numbers of animals, plants, and people. A27 billion lawsuit has been filed against Chevron on behalf of 30,000 indigenous people.

  • Exxon earned over45 billion in profits in 2009 and has recorded paying no US income taxes -- and continues to refuse to pay for the true costs incurred by the Valdez disaster.
  • General Electric generated10 billion in pretax income, but claimed it owed nothing in taxes. In fact, it recorded earning a tax benefit of1.1 billion.
  • In May 2010, The New York Times reported that the nation's largest banks managed to make money from trading every single day during the first three months of this year when the rest of us suffered through a crippling recession. Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase all finished with what is known as a perfect quarter -- they went without losing money on a single day -- as rare as perfect games in Major League Baseball.
  • We must put an end to a predatory form of capitalism that has spread across the globe in the past half century. We must not be blinded by its greed and false promises of a shopping mall nirvana.

    This predatory form of capitalism is a disease. It threatens to consume us. When we see pictures of the BP oil spill spreading across the waters, let us all know that this oil spill is also a symbol for the mutant virus contaminating the entire planet. It is a disgustingly slick, real-life horror film that we must choose to no longer view only as audience members. We need to fully comprehend the fact that if you and I do not stop this disease it will kill our children and grandchildren.

    In the current global economic crisis, we see how so many resources are wasted casually and depleted unnecessarily. Our corporations continue to drill, mine, extract, and manufacture with reckless abandon. The mantra that the only responsibility of business is to maximize short-term profits has created an unrealistic and devastating effect on the entire world.

    The time has arrived for change, for each of us to insist that President Obama and all the other politicians commit to creating a sustainable and just economic system. Stopping our addiction to oil is a crucial step; yet we must take many steps beyond that.

    Let this oil spill be the villain who shakes us awake. As we wake up, let's "Just say No" to BP -- "No, your apology is not good enough." Let's say "No" to Chevron, Exxon, GE, Goldman Sachs and all the other robber barons who promote an economic system that is destroying us.

    Let's say "Yes" to establishing a new priority: a sustainable and just economy. Let's commit to standing firm, walking hand-in-hand together along a path that leads to a world we will want to pass on to future generations.