Wake up sleepy head!!
Day before yesterday we heard news that BP's fourth quarter net income was $5.6 billion, over $4.3 billion, same quarter, previous year, because of recent high prices for oil.
Big surprise here is that we are surprised at high oil prices as we approach the presidential election cycle again and a busy, soft recovery holiday season. (They are all gouging us to get their money back)
Thus, BP are making more money this year over last year, during the same time frame.
That news didn't sit well out there in opinion land.
So today we learn via gigantic splash "boo hoo" big bad BP had a net loss over the entire year of some $5 billion. Essentially the same number, different context. The unwary observer might not know what in hell to think. Which is rather the point of modern media, anyway, to generate a confusing shell game. Mission accomplished.
The net loss comes, according to CNN, after booking $41 billion in damages and reparations, expenses along the Gulf Coast due to their oil spill.
Boo hoo. Poor dears.
But CNN again fails to mention that the $20 billion escrow, part of the write down, is fungible just as their commodity is.
That means it is a set-aside in theory, on the books. But, it isn't an account that is filled, sitting there waiting for sums to be withdrawn from it. No. It is a "pledge" administrated by a paid employee Ken Feinberg who states that only half of this $20 billion - that being $10! - should suffice for total reparations to oil spill victims.
So, do these numbers really mean anything? Is BP, boo hoo, actually losing money?
Not likely. In fact, the loss on paper surely enables the oil giant to ask for an ungodly reduction in taxes all round.
And is BP hurting from all this?
Not nearly enough, apparently.
Witness the fact (and funny ole world, innit?) that BP has quietly begun paying dividends again. It made huge news months back that BP shareholders were still getting paid dividends - essentially bribed with gifts to stick around, or profiting from doom, depending on your point of view - for owning shares of the oil giant.
This didn't sit well with public opinion either and so, those payments stopped until the mess was sorted out. Well, with the release of the Boo Hoo news, there was the simultaneous, ever so quiet announcement that dividends would resume, albeit at only half the margin experienced by lucky shareholders before the oil spill.
Note that the $5 billion net loss isn't so great on paper as to disrupt BPs recent stock value appreciably. Just enough so some of us who are watching should feel some sense of relief that at the very least BP felt their own egregious negligence in the pocket book.
In my view, not nearly enough.
This company needs to be made an example of. A reduction of stock value of 0.3 percent on the news of a year to year loss, and a $41 billion write down, is little more than a speed bump.
This is a company that takes in $240 billion annually. It operates at a net operating profit year to year of $33 billion. It lists $0 spent in research and development in this report. Research and development into safer operations? Can this be right?
What can we do? Urge everyone you know to STOP using BP gas stations. Shame them using whatever techniques you have at your disposal.
The rinky dink commission is apparently, all we the people are going to get in the form of justice for this oil spill. People have experienced massive health issues, their businesses have been wiped out, the environment has suffered and incalculable calamity.
The government officials who sold their positions haven't even been fired.
To date not one criminal charge has been filed, not even for negligence.
When Bob Graham says it's okay to open up drilling again in the Gulf of Mexico as long as the little chillins are good and the government "gosh golly" looks into ways of making things safe again, meanwhile people with legitimate claims are being ground down with innumerable hassle and paperwork, these are roadsigns that NOTHING IS BEING DONE.
The only legal weapon that remains is a boycott deterrence for other companies to learn from.