Questions of bribery must arise when assessment contractor gets it preposterously wrong
“Return your sword to its place, for all who will take up the sword will die by the sword.”
— Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 26:52
We live in the United States of America, don’t we, my neighbors? At some point, in this great land, buying and selling became sacred. In other words, all that is bought and all that is sold honors capitalism. That has come to include legal and illegal transactions, hasn’t it? A narcotics seller could be CEO of a multinational conglomerate, selling oxycodone, or s/he can be the local “drug dealer” selling the same or similar (heroin). At the most basic level, we approve of the entrepreneurial spirit of both these businesspersons. We love their capitalism, if nothing else.
Bribery, too. It circulates that good old green stuff and that’s capitalism and that’s okay—bottom line. We might say we completely abhor it all! But we allow it, and that means it’s okay by us, the people of the United States of America. Our admiration for unchecked capitalism has allowed U.S. congresspersons and senators to be bought like so many loaves of bread at any grocery store. It’s corruption on the grandest scale, and we tolerate it in part because, after all, it’s a free country, isn’t it? And freedom today means mostly the liberty to buy or sell what or whom you choose.
For instance, take the forebear of the massively controversial and troublesome Keystone XL pipeline, the TransCanada Keystone. Faced with a mountain of regulatory requirements and public opposition, TransCanada had to present risk assessments for spills and every other possible type of disaster before it could start operating in 2010. In that effort, the conglomerate hired a Norwegian company called DNV GL, which specializes in “global quality assurance and risk management.”
The DNV GL assessment of TransCanada Keystone was beyond rosy. Spills of more than 50 barrels? “Not more than once every seven to 11 years over the entire length of the pipeline in the United States.” Over 1,000 barrels? No more than once every 100 years. What government agency wouldn’t approve of such a pristine operation? Only trouble is that in the eight years the pipeline has been in operation, Keystone has spilled 5,800 barrels of toxic crude in the United States.
What happened at DNV GL to cause it to miss the mark so wildly? Do global risk assessment companies make mistakes that big? If so, of what good are they? Of course, there may have been no mistake at all. Perhaps only an international envelope containing a check for DNV GL from TransCanada for, say, $1 billion. That’s maybe one day’s work for the oil giant.
So the double-edged sword of capitalism has left the average citizen with little to no say in their government. Short of armed combat in a second civil war, that’s about as serious as it gets, folks. Remember “Taxation Without Representation.” It was the cauldron in which our nation was forged. We have slipped and slipped and slipped that far back. If we’re not careful, my friends, we won’t even recognize our own country before long.
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, is about petroleum problems that put humankind on the brink of extinction.