Halliburton has decided to plead guilty to destroying records connected to the BP gulf oil spill in 2010.

Apparently Halliburton recommended a different design of the rig that exploded to BP before they built it. They did tests that they say showed the two designs did not perform that differently, but when the rig disaster occurred "Halliburton's programme manager 'was directed to, and did, destroy these results'".

The fine they have to pay after the guilty plea is $200,000.

This story brought my blood to a boil. First of all, a $200,000 fine is nothing to a corporation of this size. Halliburton will find it in the couch cushions. It's not a fine that can act as a deterrent, because they'll just budget for it as a cost of doing business.

The article I read quotes a statement that someone "was directed" to destroy the results. there's no mention of who did the directing, which I'm sure is intentional On the part of Halliburton. Does this person still work for Halliburton? Is this person facing away career consequences for his or her acts? Will he or she be be held personally liable for giving that illegal instruction? Was anyone else involved? How many people knew and approved? Once this settles, we'll never learn any of this.

I think there will be no way to deter corporations from breaking laws, again and again, until there are real consequences. Not bigger fines, but real investigations where individuals making unlawful decisions go to jail. They don't care about fines, the corporation pays them and moves on. Why are we giving people working at these places what amounts to a license to ignore our laws? If corporations are people, they should share the burdens as well as the benefits of personhood in our society.