Saturday, June 05, 2010

It's called the law, Slick.

So, as I understand it, we have laws and rules in our society for a reason. Regardless of where you fall in the Government meddling spectrum, there are rules I think we all agree are there because they need to be. All of us, as individuals have the choice whether or not we want to follow those laws, but in the end, we are saying we are willing to deal with the consequences of violating them. Let's take for instance traffic laws. To me, that is likely the category of law we as citizens are most likely to break.

We may not all agree that a particular stretch of road should have a 30 MPH speed limit as opposed to a higher or lower one, but we usually adhere fairly well. I know on the open road, I like to cruise about ten miles or so higher than the speed limit, but in residential areas, I keep it low. (Please keep in mind I get passed in both situations ALL THE TIME, but that's a blog for another time). There are some places we have all agreed to allow our Governments to enforce more strictly. School zones for instance. Though I often speed, and see fellow speeders, we seem as individuals to understand that doing 50 on a small road next to a school letting kids out is a bad thing. Sure, you may get a ticket for your victimless crime of speeding elsewhere, but as an individual, you may loose your license speeding through a school zone. It's a hazardous area, and there are known safety issues.

We don't increase fines and punishments in school zones to protect the driver. We do it to protect the potential child victims. We know the results of recklessness in a school zone would be catastrophic, and we punish people, individuals, for taking the risk. In Arizona, it's a minimum $300 ticket for speeding in a school zone, and double if there are kids present. What happens when you run over someone?

If circumstances warrant, you go to prison. It's not murder, you didn't intend it. However, if you ignoring safety laws on the streets results in someone dying, you are punished for manslaughter, depending on your assessed amount of culpability. I don't consider this government meddling, I consider it the enforcement of common sense, which unfortunately seems to be necessary in a society supposedly made up of adults. If a person ignores all the warnings, if a person acts in an unsafe manner, and someone else gets hurt, it is only common sense that the violator gets punished. Additionally, the responsible party should pay for property damages. Should the victim die, the violator is guilty of taking human life, and will likely get that manslaughter charge and go to prison. When one individual through their irresponsible actions take another human life, we rely on the Government system to take care of it. We rely on the Government to come up with laws in regard to hazards, we rely on the Government to enforce them, we rely on the Government to punish an individual, a person, when they violate those laws. Especially an egregious violation of safe actions.

What if an individual killed eleven people through willful disregard for the law? What if further, that willful disregard resulted in untold damage to the area around them? Perhaps they ignored an ordnance on fires in city limits. The house next door caught on fire, and eleven people died inside. How would we punish that individual? What if they admitted to their own culpability? Would we say, “That's ok, it's not a big thing of you just sweep up the ashes.” No, that person would go to prison.

I don't care what side of Government regulation you're on. The safety rules for off-shore drilling exist because it is a hazardous situation. It's dangerous to the people on the platform, it's dangerous to the environment, it's hard work done by good people every day. British Petroleum willfully ignored safety again and again, in Washington; in Texas City where another 15 people died; in Alaska. If any individual person repeatedly broke laws protecting the people around them and were responsible for at least 26 deaths, they would be locked up. In particular of a person did those things for the purpose of making more money, they would be reviled, and not just criminal. I am not even going to talk about the oil spill; BP KNEW this rig was dangerous, and they didn't shut it down, and they killed eleven people. I'm not going to argue Government regulation; BP wasn't even following their OWN safety regulations. If BP were a person, they would be locked up, they SHOULD be locked up. This exact situation is why we have laws in the abstract sense, much less the specific OSHA regulations. If only, BP was a person!

Oh wait. They are. In the early 1800s, the United States Supreme Court ruled Corporations were legal persons. The Court upheld this in 1854 with Marshall v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. This Corporation has killed 26 people in the last five years. This person has killed 26 other people. I don't care what anyone's opinion is on Government intervention. Mr. BP has acted in a criminal sense, and in our society we lock up criminals. No, I am not saying we take each member of BP and put them in jail (though some are certainly tempting...), but why do we lock up criminals? To remove them from societal interaction. Then while they are in prison, we employ them for society's benefit; make some license plates or lightbulbs, etc. BP as a corporation should be kept from doing business, from interacting in a normal fashion. Then, when all the money stops coming in, the billions they are worth should be taken and put toward fixing what they have destroyed, not unlike how we take drug dealer money and put it into law enforcement.

Sure, chalk me up as a liberal blogger pissed off about oily birds. Feel free to use your own confirmation bias to feel good about dismissing what I say as just like the green freaks out there. Then notice, I am not talking about the environment. Then think about your kid being the one run down in the school zone. Then think about your kid being the one in the explosions at Texas City or on the Deepwater Horizon. This is about the deaths of human beings for the profit margin of another. This is about a lawful and orderly society, and punishing those who act against it. Government regulation? Don't care, not part of my argument. What I want to know BP, is where, where is your fucking morality? You, BP have acted like a sociopath incapable of empathy, a threat to others around you. You should be punished and your own employees should be protected from you. That's not nosing into business interest, that's not abrogating capitalism, that's what a Government is there to do; protect the interest of citizens. It's too late for 26 of them. Face up to it BP, be a man... you know, like the law says you are.