The corporate art of getting the sympathy vote

No, I haven’t been at the wacky baccy. Hypocrisy is like a bus, because it doesn’t matter if you miss one…there’ll be another one along in a minute.

The problem is not, however, one of catching the bus, but rather that the folks at the bus-stop don’t often spot it is a bus. “Do you know,” says the bloke at the front of the queue, “I’ve been waiting here over an hour now, and nothing but stretched limos have come past.”

So there is a never-ending stream of hypocrisy, but your hypocrisy cove is a master of disguise. Here’s a classic example from this afternoon:

‘Royal Dutch Shell fears draft EU financial trading rules could force it to divert nearly $1B of additional capital through clearing, its CFO says. New EU regulations would require companies breaching set trading thresholds to clear their transactions, which Shell says would tie up significant capital that could otherwise be used for investment.’

Now this story is going to go down in the annals as ‘f**kwitted EU gets business tangled up in costly regulation again’, and much as most of us know that’s what the European Bunion spends most of its time doing (after embezzlement) this CFO knows better than most that he is lying his autistic accountant’s head off.

A major reason why oil is very expensive these days – historically speaking – is that for a good twenty years before, roughly, 2004, the industry ‘invested’ primarily in shareholder dividends and personal bonuses. The dividends put the share price up, and the lack of any new exploration-style investment (or deep-find technology-style investment) meant relative scarcity and higher prices and more profits without much in the way of new raw material costs. Yo! Bigger dividends and higher share prices and profitable stock disposals and even bigger bonuses. Just not much oil being discovered and opened up.

So for RDS’s Chief Financial Orifice to cry foul and shame about this EU policy is hypocrisy on a grand scale. But then, one of the profound weaknesses in the entire system of remote shareholders buying and selling through bourses is that the system is a 24/7 temptatation to do the short term wrong thing, rather than the longer-term right thing for businesses in need of affordable energy.

All of this would, of course, be obvious to an underachieving three year old terrapin. But in the lexicon of neocon ‘defences’, it evokes, “There is no alternative”. Now there are dozens of alternatives in all the sizes and most of the colours, but here too the so-called ‘framing’ technique comes into play: that is, taking a descriptor you’ve used out of context and using it to pigeon-hole one as a deluded fanatic. For example:

communitarian = hairy open-toed sandal sucker

mutualist = soviet communist

self-sufficiency = agrarian siege economy.

Pretty soon, you’re the recipient of more smears than a gynaecologist. Now there are few more worthy recipients of the smear than the EU and all things Brussels, but smearing somebody or some new law on the basis of it disallowing you from doing something admirable that you never did in your entire life, well…at that point you have arrived  in the black, drizzling antimatter world in which Lord Mandelson is queen, sorry, king. Cheap shot, but this is a free site, and good marksmanship training is expensive.