Friday, June 11, 2010

Why should BP pay for an Obama decision?

I had read about this in the WSJ and wanted to comment on it but Taranto beat me to it:

Obama: You'll Pay for My Decision! "The Obama administration's latest anti-BP volley is a call on the oil giant to pay up big time--not just for economic damages from the Gulf spill but also for lost wages of workers idled by the president's drilling moratorium," Politico reports. This column has no brief for BP, but for the president to demand that the company pick up the tab for his political reaction to the accident takes chutzpah to new heights

I would still like to expand on this for the kind of people that have trouble with easy concepts like Supply and Demand for instance.

1. Let's say that the 6-month moratorium on deep water drilling is justified: There is some flaw in regulations which made the current blow-out nigh inevitable. This flaw is not the fault of BP. In fact, it would be just the misfortune of BP that they happened to find the flaw first, they kind of helped the rest of the industry to avoid this mistake. As an aside: Just to gauge how reasonable a 6-month moratorium is. How would you feel about a similar ban on building jetliners as a reaction to a plane crash?

2. After a 6-month investigation it is determined that the current regulations were fine and should remain unchanged. We would then conclude that the half-year ban on drilling was a mistake--one made by Obama, not BP.

Either way, there is no rational basis for charging BP with lost wages due to the ban. In addition, why just lost wages? Are there not many other expenses to be considered? What about the capital costs of idle equipment, money already paid for leases on drilling areas and so forth? The current administration is sometimes accused of being Socialist, this has been debated far and wide elsewhere. It is interesting that when they look at the consequences of the drilling ban they only consider lost wages and not the (almost certainly higher) corporate losses. It is like they think labor is the only factor in production

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