Leave it to The Wall Street Journal to expose bosses' lies... 'Performance Counts' didn't work at BP, and it won't work in Illinois

While a small group of America's ruling class is trying to subordinate every working person to the gospel of a socially perverted version of 'Race to the Top,' some of the cooler heads in the ruling class are realizing that complete dominance by The Boss and The Bottom Line can lead to disasters as small as an oil leak and as large as the murderous management decisions that led to the deaths of workers at BP's Texas City refinery and, finally, the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

While most of the country was poised for the latest blizzard (including those of us in Chicago), The Wall Street Journal, in one of those exhaustive Page One stories for which they are famous, reminded everyone that an obsession with The Bottom Line at BP and how it overrides every other consideration, including environmental hazards and the safety to BP's own workers.

The Page One story "BP's Safety Drive Faces Rough Road" appeared in the print editions of The Wall Street Journal on February 1, 2011. Substance editors subscribe to the print edition and area always professionally impressed by how much work the reporters at the Journal put into major stories (like the one on the CASE fight that appeared on Page One of the Journal on May 21, 2001 featuring reporter -- then editor -- George Schmidt). The February 1 story was another example. Once again, the Journal reports, BP is claiming that it is going to change its "corporate culture" to make it safer. The last time BP executives made that claim was after the March 2005 Texas City disaster that left 15 workers dead and 170 injured, many so seriously they never worked again.

"On March 23, 2005, a fire and explosion occurred at BP's Texas City Refinery in Texas City, Texas, killing 15 workers and injuring more than 170 others," Wikipedia writes. "BP was charged with criminal violations of federal environmental laws, and has been subject to lawsuits from the victim's families. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration slapped BP with a then-record fine for hundreds of safety violations, and subsequently imposed an even larger fine after claiming that BP had failed to implement safety improvements following the disaster.

The Texas City Refinery is the second-largest oil refinery in the state, and the third-largest in the United States. BP acquired the Texas City refinery as part of its merger with Amoco in 1998. It had an input capacity of 437,000 barrels per day (18,354,000 gallons or 69,477,448 litres) as of January 1, 2005..."

The murderous 2005 Texas City BP disaster was dwarfed by an earlier disaster in the same town, shortly after World War II: "The Texas City Disaster is the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history," we learn from Wikipedia. "The incident took place on April 16, 1947, and began with a mid-morning fire on board the French-registered vessel SS Grandcamp in the Port of Texas City. The fire detonated approximately 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate[1] and the resulting chain reaction of fires and explosions killed at least 581 people.[2] These events also triggered the first ever class action lawsuit against the United States government, under the then-recently enacted Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), on behalf of 8,485 victims."

So is Texas City cursed by the gods, or have the corporations who run things in Texas and other anti-union states cursed the people and environment in places like Texas City with a plague of death?

BP, according to the latest Wall Street Journal coverage, hasn't changed much since Texas City or the Deepwater Horizon.

In fact, they just fired the guy in Alaska who was trying to improve their health and safety record there. "The day after the Gulf well [Deepwater Horizon] blew out last April, killing 11 rig workers, Phil Dzubinski was suspended from his job and escorted out of his office in Alaska. The company said he was let go as part of a management overhaul. In a five-month skirmish, two government agencies rejected Mr. Dziubinski's claims that he was fired as retributiojn for warning of safety risks. His back-and-forth with the British oil giant, though, shed light on what Mr. Dudley [the new BP CEO, who says he is going to install a culture of safety] is up against."

The story that follows, worth reading in its entirety, shows how a company (or any other institution) that measures everything by a simplistic "Bottom Line" can become a danger to itself, its workers, and the environment of large parts of the planet. In the story, where The Wall Street Journal seems more in tune with the truth behind the story than government agencies of the Obama administration, the Journal related how the safety problems that were exposed by BP workers in Alaska and Mr. Dzuibinski resulted in growing problems that BP tried to cover up, even while it was under an international microscope (and supposed increased government scrutiny) because its well was polluting the Gulf of Mexico and ruining the coastal economies of at large parts of four states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama) and a smaller part of a fifth (Florida).

Rupert Murdoch may also operates Fox News, which is the propaganda network dedicated to providing bread and circuses to the proles of the current empire, but he is also a great newspaperman who knows that his class — the megacapitalists of the world — needs accurate information. So while Fox and its avatars in Talk Radio are spewing a form of toxic sludge into peoples' minds, the Journal is making sure that its million daily readers can learn accurately the price of stupid ways of measuring "Performance" at the expense of all other considerations.


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

1 + 5 =