News & Politics

Free Enterprise Gone Wild: How We're Getting Screwed in 4 Easy Steps

Halliburton's failed cementing job likely led to oil blowout in the Gulf -- but there's no mess big enough to take the shine off these tumor-like companies.

Good morning suckers. How are we doing today? Okay, enough pleasantries. Take the position. Go ahead, you should be getting good at it by now; lean over, grab your ankles and get ready for another dose of Free Enterprisers Gone Wild!

The pattern is now set, clear and undeniable. Here’s how it works:

    Step 1: Get your own people into useful positions in government.
    Step 2: Get your people in government to allow you to create a giant-ass problem or mess.
    Step 3: Get your people in government to hire you to fix, clean up and manage the mess they let you create.
    Step 4: Collect zillions of “bonus” (taxpayer) dollars cleaning up your own messes.

- Halliburton’s Dick Cheney started two wars and then hires Halliburton, with our money, as a kind of privatized Headquarters & Supply Company to feed, house and supply our soldiers while they fight, get wounded and die in the wars started by our $32 Million Man, Halliburton Dick.

- Wall Street and Big Bankers like Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and a few hundred others lobby against regulations, loot the economy into near-depression, get themselves hired to clean up the mess and promptly bail out their old companies -- with taxpayer money -- and hire their old friends to manage their own bailout -- with taxpayer money. (Bonnie and Clyde missed a huge opportunity by being too early.)

- Big Oil lobbies against regulations and then writes those they can’t stop, get their own people in government to run interference for them, create the biggest ecological disaster since Chernobyl and then convince their friends in government to hire them to clean up the mess, even allowing them to sell their own cleanup product Corexit -- which is banned in Europe --  for the process.

Shop ▾

 "So why is BP sticking with Corexit? The answer may be Nalco's close relationship with major oil firms—including BP, as Greenwire reported last week. The company was founded in 1994 as a joint venture with ExxonMobil's chemical division. Nalco bought out Exxon's share in 2001, but retained its strong oil industry ties. One Nalco board member, Daniel Sanders, and a vice president, Steve Taylor, both served as senior executives at Exxon. Another Nalco board member, Rodney Chase, worked for BP for 38 years.“ (Full Story)

Oh, quick, look! Here’s Halliburton again. My, my, my, but that company gets around. It was Halliburton’s deep-well cementing job that failed and led to the BP blowout in the Gulf. But apparently there’s no mess big enough to take the shine off these tumor-like companies:

    Halliburton to Present at the 2010 UBS Global Oil and Gas Conference
    MarketWatch (press release) - ‎May 17, 2010‎
    Interested parties may listen to the presentation live over the Internet by accessing the link to the web cast at

I get it. Just lean over and grab those taxpayer ankles. Because it would appear that electing a Democrat president who promised “change we can believe in," hasn’t changed a goddamn thing.

More below from ProPublica on this most recent screwing. Until then, just grin and bear it and try to learn to like it -- I guess.

From Propublica's blog:

In Gulf Spill, BP Using Dispersants Banned in U.K

byMarian Wang, ProPublica - May 18, 2010 2:24 pm EDT

The two types of dispersants BP is spraying in the Gulf of Mexico are banned for use[1] on oil spills in the U.K. As EPA-approved products[2], BP has been using them in greater quantities than dispersants have ever been used[3] in the history of U.S. oil spills.

BP is using two products from a line of dispersants called Corexit[4], which EPA data[2] appear to show is more toxic and less effective[5] on South Louisiana crude than other available dispersants, according to Greenwire.

We learned about the U.K. ban from a mention on The New York Times’ website. (The reference was cut from later versions of the article, so we can’t link to the Times, but we found the piece[6] elsewhere.) The Times flagged a letter[7] that Rep. Edward Markey, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, sent to the EPA on Monday. The letter pointed out that both the Corexit products currently being used in the Gulf were removed from a list of approved treatments for oil spills in the U.K. more than a decade ago. (Here’s the letter[7].) 

As we’ve reported, Corexit was also used after the Exxon Valdez disaster[8] and was later linked with human health problems including respiratory, nervous system, liver, kidney and blood disorders. One of the two Corexit products also contains a compound that, in high doses, is associated with headaches, vomiting and reproductive problems[9].

Given that the dispersants are EPA-approved, the choice of which ones to use was left to BP, which had stockpiled large amounts of Corexit and is now ordering more. 

BP has defended its choice to use Corexit. A BP spokesman called the product[5] “pretty effective,” and said it had been “rigorously tested.” It is not testing other dispersants, he said,[5] because it’s focusing on stopping the spill. Mani Ramesh, the chief technology officer for Nalco, which makes Corexit, disputed claims that the product is harmful to the environment[10], telling Reuters that Corexit’s active ingredient is “an emulsifier also found in ice cream.”

Dispersants like Corexit break up oil into droplets that linger longer in the water instead of collecting at the surface. The choice to use them is inherently an environmental tradeoff. Their use in the Gulf spill has limited the instances—and images—of oil-covered seabirds, but has kept the effects of the spill mostly underwater. Scientists have discovered giant plumes of dispersed oil[11] in the deep waters of the Gulf, though the EPA has said “there is no information currently available[12]” to link the dispersants to those deep-sea plumes. The plumes are now fast approaching the Gulf loop current[13], which could spread the oil into the Atlantic Ocean.

In a hearing this afternoon, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that the EPA is working with BP to get less toxic dispersants[14] to the site as quickly as possible, according to Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones.

The EPA, while recognizing that long-term effects on the environment are unknown[15], has said that the federal government will regularly analyze[16] the effect of dispersants, and that it will discontinue the application of dispersants underwater[17] “if any negative impacts on the environment outweigh the benefits.”

Stephen Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, which was nominated for a Pulitzer.