Having it Both Ways

New York State is planning to sue BP. Not because it's concerned about worker deaths or environmental degradation. Nope, New York is suing because it's lost a lot of money on BP's stock.

Fair enough, I suppose. I actually contribute to one of the pensions in question, and I'm generally in favor of being able to retire one day.

This is where my non-understanding of capitalism shows. Or perhaps, my understanding begins to look depressing.

I pay a few thousand dollars a year into this pension plan. New York also puts some thousands of dollars into said plan. In 2060, I shall retire, and the State of New York will pay me $950,000 per year, hopefully for many decades. I know this sounds impressive, but do recall that in 2060, this amount will barely suffice to keep me in Rax (it'll be big again in the future-- just you wait) and subsidized housing. Anyhow, we'll have to find a way to make up the difference between several thousands and nearly a million, and presumably interest isn't going to cut it, so yeah, BP ahoy!

Therein lies the rub.

I think New York's got something of a case here. BP is clearly mismanaging the Deepwater Horizon spill, which is clearly hurting the value of its stock (although the CNNMoney article also suggests that I might consider cutting short my next Aldi run to buy BP stock). Perhaps if someone (BP?) gave investors a true sense of the risks involved, New York would have invested in funds that contained more stock from Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Wal-Mart, and other responsible corporations.

This is where having it both ways comes into play. Some folks (e.g., me!) maintain that not destroying the Gulf of Mexico is a social good (or at the very least, a social not-bad). Some folks (e.g., me!) are interested in enjoying grape pineapple milkshakes from Rax in the coming decades. It turns out that one road to Rax Riches (TM) involves allowing casual acquaintances to intimidate farmers in Columbia, harassing folks in the Caucasus, allowing employees to die on your watch, and generally making a mess of the planet, none of which seemed to be a problem a few months ago, incidentially.

Honestly, I don't know what the solution is. However, I'm more than a little uncomfortable with the notion that BP owes it to me to be more profitable. As I see it, that's kinda how we find ourselves here to begin with.

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