Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Never-Ending Story

Sometimes I forget - and perhaps you do as well - that history has a present as well as a past. I should not I suppose. Any time I hear an advertisement on television for a weight-loss system that is both foolproof and exercise-free or for an investment company (like the one that Sam Waterston has been shilling for on TV for years) or for one of my ambulance-chasing brethren touting their successes, the smoke-blowing always includes a note of foreboding, "Past performance is no indicator of future results."

Now - of course - in the case of those firms and their commercials, in order to get you in the door to become their client they hope like hell that you disregard that disclaimer. I do not pretend to know the percentage of folks who do so and sign on as a client or a customer regardless of the "out clause" but I presume it must be pretty high. A presumption admittedly based upon nothing other than the fact that it is the same type of advertising that has been used for years. Presumably it is used because it is successful.

This past week, the world's favorite corporate bad boys finally appeared to have gotten something right. BP has behaved atrociously since the April 20th oil-rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed eleven workers and sent enough oil to rock all of our casbahs cascading into the Gulf. On Thursday afternoon they confirmed that that they have been able to stop the leak. The cynic in me expected that announcement to be followed by one admitting that the oil stopped pouring out of the leak simply because there was no more left to spew. The cynic in me also wondered - given the apparent early success of the cap they have now installed - why it took until we were almost ninety days post-explosion before we pulled this index card out of the corporate suggestion box.

Whether the cap continues to work remains to be seen (and that is not me being unfair to BP, it is the opinion of the scientists and engineers who the company employs) but for the first time since April 20, the good people who earn their livings and who live their lives on and in the Gulf of Mexico experienced a 24-hour period that did not include oil pouring into the Gulf. A baby step? Absolutely. But its size does not and should not serve to undercut its significance.


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