Trust, but Verify

Reading about the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico this morning, I was struck by TIME magazine’s “Dirty Dozen” to get the blame. Number one on the list is John Browne, BP’s former CEO. The note by his photo indicates “…his cost-cutting may have contributed to the company’s checkered safety record.”

Really? The article notes BP’s “…string of toxic safety problems in recent years,” including the explosion at the BP Texas City refinery in 2005 that killed 15 and wounded more than 170, and investigators’ reports of “…generally sloppy practices, including the use of old equipment, overworked and unsupervised employees and contractors, and management’s inattention to safety.”

Gee. I’m no oil exploration expert, but it sure is apparent that it would have been a great idea to do something about what the investigators reported about BP.

Brings to mind President Reagan’s famous quote about nuclear disarmament and how to make sure the USSR lived up to its end of the bargain. Reagan’s response was: “Trust, but verify.” I propose when it comes to big business, especially the oil drilling business, the drill should be: “Trust, but regulate – and verify that the regulation is working.”


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