Re: Dept. of WTF?

So here is a peculiar disconnect. The multinational corporation Transocean is awarding safety bonuses to its executives for the previous year. You may recall Transocean. They were in charge of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico last year that resulted in the deaths of eleven rig workers and not coincidentally in the the worst oceanic oil spill ever in the history of humankind. Transocean continues to run many of the drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. They are headquartered in Zug, Switzerland because of the tax breaks afforded to multi-national corporations, even though the bulk of their operations are located in Texas (the Swiss HQ consists of a shared board room in an office building).

Safety bonuses…really? Here is their decision:

According to calculations by The Associated Press, the total value the company assigned to (CEO Steve) Newman’s compensation package was $5.8 million.

That figure includes an $850,000 base salary—a 34 percent increase from the prior year; perquisites of $622,057, which includes housing and vacation allowances, among other things; and the $374,062 bonus. Also included in the figure are stock options valued at $1.9 million and deferred shares valued at $2 million when those awards were granted in March 2010.

Transocean uses two safety criteria to calculate executive bonuses: the rate of incidents per 200,000 hours that employees work, and the potential severity of those incidents. In 2010, the rate of incidents dropped by 4% from 2009. A number that measures potential severity of those incidents fell nearly 15% from last year.

Eleven dead. The ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico forever compromised.

If this was a ‘safe’ year for Transocean, I’d hate to work for them in other years.


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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21 Responses to Re: Dept. of WTF?

  1. Monotreme says:

    You gotta call those massive bonuses something.

    Ignorance is strength.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

  2. Mainer says:

    Mono. Just sent the article to my entire bang list. Mostly cops, firemen and ex or present military….. I’m thinking at this moment that maybe 1/3 had already received it based on my inbox lighting up.

    So if all normal avenues of redress are bought then the answer is? Not a pretty answer is it? The answer will not involve my custom built, Maine made, choice hardwood modular gallows will it? This one article going viral could rock the masses. If it starts itis going to be very unAmerican in keeping with what is going on. A very sadmess I leave to my sons and grandsons.

  3. Mule Rider says:

    This is ‘crony capitalism’ at its worst.

    That money should be confiscated and given both to the survivors of the people killed on the rig and to ongoing cleaning and maintenance efforts related to the spill.

    But instead, the government here (as well as ones abroad) sit and….do….nothing.

    Shameful.

  4. Mule,
    How would you propose confiscating the funds? Legally speaking, that is.

  5. Mainer says:

    Mule man well said……..better than I can do because I work with the field grunts for the same company at times. In truth some of the ones getting this bonus money may well need it because it appears they are not imune to law suits for willfull negligance or some thing like that. I’m thinking that they got the award for ducking proper due dilligance and saving the company many more dollars than they just got.

    Lets see now alarm systems that didn’t work, drills and exercises that were not conducted with all concerned, a rather obscure management structure that froze people in place waiting for answers, icomplete process for evacuation, undocumented alts to systems that prevented timely response…….hell the list just goes on and on. Yup sounds like they earned several attaboys……….or a bullet.Let the oil patch sort this one out…..I have faith in those lads, a hard lot but a fair one out in the field, one can only hide behind a desk just so long before they have to go out in the field and experience just how damned dangerous one of those rigs can be. ooooooh slip trip and fall. O S H A needs to look at that.

  6. Brian says:

    Why would they call them that? Even if you wanted to give your top guys bonuses, which I don’t understand, why not call the bonuses something that doesn’t make you want to kick them in the teeth?

  7. I agree that it’s really bad to give bonuses…especially “safety” bonuses. Just not sure what our government can do about it after the fact.

  8. 10kzebra says:

    This is so unsurprising. It’s shocking, sure, but nothing new. You know how in ‘regular’ business, rising costs means falling profits? Not in energy. Rising costs mean rising profits. Good thing the retired are so wealthy from their social security checks that the cost of energy just doesn’t matter… oh wait, not that, the opposite of that.

  9. In energy, rising prices mean rising profits. Which means that energy extraction that has higher costs becomes profitable. You’ve got the cart before the horse on that one.

  10. GROG says:

    In regards to income inequality, I see two factors playing a major role.

    1) The incredible performance of the stock market during poor economic times. The wealthy tend to own more stock and many corporate execs are paid with stock options. Couple that with high unemployment, raising food and energy prices, and stagnant wages, it’s not hard to see why the rich are getting richer.

    2) The loss of middle class, blue collar manufacturing jobs. Why pay $20 or $30 dollars an hour to make a widget when you can have it made in China for $1 an hour. Have cheap crap made in China and sell it at Wal Mart. And the irony of the situation is that the people who just lost their job down at the plant are the same people flocking to Wal Mart to buy the cheap crap.

    Future and present manufacturing jobs in the U.S. require highly skilled and often times highly educated workers.

  11. Mainer says:

    Mike, not much our goverment can do about it. A very large amount the P R I VA TE citizen probably will. Hey don’t get me wrong I abhore violence as the answer to almost any thing………the reality is we are about to see a bunch of it to relevel the playing field. I see the teabaggers wanting to parade around with their guns. Don’t really sweat it. They just want the woody it gives them……….sweat me and mine. Now I am too sort of comfortable in semi retirement to sweat me. You want to worry about the ex spec forces type that became a cop and got laid off, the me that does not have a secure retirement because some 1%er got it all, the ___________insert worker that is yet again being asked to swallow wage and benefit consessions as a shared sacrifice that the 1 % are not sharing…….not much sharing and too damned much sacrifice from some. So targets get more defined. Hey sorry to be such a downer but you push just so far and some one will push back. I never thought it would be in my life time but here we are. Moderators……I’m not advocating any thing. I am as best I can relating feelings. I don’t need any federal visitors but should you wish to come call ahead and the good wife will make sure the coffee is on.

  12. Mainer says:

    Grog dude right freaking on. So what is the answer? Sam Walton must be turning over in his grave. He gave a shit…….his heirs not so much.

    I’m thinking of an up coming CW song that will some how go…..I bought it cheap but I lost my job……kind of ditty. Or I’m an unemployed Republican, or Boehner is no saner than my last 4 ex-wives. Hey just a thougt.

  13. Pingback: Transocean Hails 2010 as ‘Best Year’ in Safety–execs get ‘safety’ bonuses, despite Gulf spill disaster « Dregs of the Future

  14. Mule Rider says:

    “How would you propose confiscating the funds? Legally speaking, that is.”

    Hell, just freeze the assets of the company and “take” what’s necessary. As dc so often likes to put it, this isn’t the big, bad government just reaching into someone’s pocket and taking something that isn’t theirs, this is ‘we the people’ righting a freaking wrong, and the ‘government’ is simply an intermediary.

  15. Mule Rider says:

    The government puts orders all the time to freeze the accounts of people on the wrong side of the law, and this should be no different.

  16. Mule, that presumes that the bonuses were illegal. What statute did they violate?

  17. Mule Rider says:

    “What statute did they violate?”

    Conduct antithetical to human decency 🙂

    No, seriously, I’m sure the government, via the Attorney General, can find them in breach of something, an environmental or safety regulation, or something….they can take that and run with it and make those bastards pay.

  18. dcpetterson says:

    I think if some kind of criminal conduct can be discovered, then Transocean should be fined accordingly.

    On an emotional level, I’m right there with Grog and Mule. The idea of Transocean giving obscenely large bonuses to its execs — for safety! — is offensive to the core. But of course, this is nothing new.

    Banks and investment firms are giving enormous perks to the people who tanked the world economy three years ago. Oil company execs are getting rich by blackmailing the rest of the world. Big American companies lavish billions on CEOs who lay off the most employees. American corporations, in aggregate, are now more profitable than they were before the crash — but they’re not hiring, because they’re sqeezing more productivity out of employees too frightened of layoffs to compain about it. (Corporate-wise, America has recovered better than any G7 nation except Canada; but our unemployment numbers are worse than any other G7 country.)

    The arrogance of these enormous corporations and their fetish with giving huge bonuses to the most unethical people in their ranks is hardly newsworthy any more.

    But if this morally repugnant behavior is finally also ticking off American’s conservative voters, maybe we can get unanimously behind doing something about it. The problem all along has been that being arrogant and tone-deaf and greedy is not illegal. And now, for the first time in this new century, we’ve got an administration that actually respects the rule of law. Irony abounds.

    But maybe, just maybe, awareness of the need for substantive regulation — and effective enforcement — will overcome the propaganda megaphone that’s been opposing it. One can only hope.

  19. mclever says:

    I think this just proves how little choice consumers really have in our globally integrated marketplace. Some economists like to suggest that companies must behave in the consumers’ best interest in order to thrive, but that simply isn’t so in the real world. The consumers’ opinions are almost incidental.

    If companies were worried about consumers fleeing to a competitor, then they would obsess about not creating bad impressions like this. They’d want to cultivate good-feelings with customers to foster loyalty and repeat business. But even if some number of consumers get ticked off and try to avoid all product from one of these companies, it’s frankly impossible. The companies are too integrated and the product too fungible, so the consumers couldn’t readily identify all of the corporate fingers in the pot even if they wanted to. Some companies can’t be avoided no matter how much the consumer might want to go someplace else.

    Yay for the hidden monopolies of mega-corporations.

  20. mclever,
    It’s more than that. People may say that they will go to a competitor, but if the competition is appreciably more expensive, few act on it.

    But you’re right when it comes to petroleum. The Exxon gas station on the corner may get its tanks filled by gasoline that came from wells owned by BP. You can’t tell. Even the owner of the station can’t tell. Most likely the supplier to the station can’t tell, either.

  21. mclever says:

    @Michael

    In oil-n-gas, it’s especially convoluted and intertwined. The guy at the well head can’t tell who owns the oil either, because a dozen or more different producers might all be taking marketing allocations from a given well, so it’s impossible to say whether a particular drop of oil really belongs to Chevron, Exxon, BP, or one of the others. Depending on the well contract, each of those producers owns a fraction of whatever the well produces, so going to a “competitor” doesn’t necessarily change the source of the oil…

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