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Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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The Money Gusher / Oil Spill Resources

June 8th, 2010 by Dave · 1 Comment

The Money Gusher, George Monbiot’s latest column, draws interesting parallels between the financial crisis and the ongoing Gulf oil spill.

Pollution has been defined as a resource in the wrong place. That’s also a pretty good description of the company’s profits. The great plumes of money that have been bursting out of the company’s accounts every year are not BP’s to give away. They consist, in part or in whole, of the externalised costs the company has failed to pay, and which the rest of society must carry.

Does this sound familiar? In the ten years preceding the crash, the banks posted and disposed of stupendous profits. When their risky ventures failed, they discovered that they hadn’t made sufficient provision against future costs, and had to go begging from the state. They had classified their annual surplus as profit and given it to their investors and staff long before it was safe to do so.

I also like this line, about the fact that (while clearly not being a Marshallese company) the rig is registered in the Marshall Islands.

Flags of convenience signify more than the place of registration: they’re an unmistakable sign that responsibilities are being offloaded.

A lot of students aren’t aware of the underlying assumptions in traditional economics, how corporations are allowed to externalize costs and avoid liability. Business is always a popular topic, and an introduction to alternative economic points-of-view (like these) can be really engaging for students.

And for more on the Gulf oil spill, be sure to check out this list of resources by Larry Ferlazzo. As usual, it’s quite comprehensive and includes a lot of good stuff.

Tags: blog · climate change · environmental justice · finance · financial crisis (2008) · global issues activities · health · infographics · maps · poverty & wealth · reading · slideshow · statistics · the environment

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Karenne Sylvester // Jun 8, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Hi Dave,

    Haven’t been here in ages and my trip back didn’t fail! Thanks so much for these resources and Larry’s links – I will be able to use them in a discussion forum with my students online!


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