BP is telling everyone that will listen that they are taking responsibility for the disaster they have caused. They will waste no expense getting that message across. But what is the reality?
It has become clear that there is a $75 million cap on the damages that BP can be ordered to pay. BP has stated they will pay all “legitimate” claims. Let‘s see how their lawyers, their public relations specialists, lobbyist and allies in the conservative media begin to warp the definition of legitimate in the coming weeks, months and years as the full impact of this disaster becomes known.
BP immediately hit the pavement trying to settle claims at $5000 a pop. It is hard to know where to start to describe all the problems of that little move. Fortunately, they were shut down and prohibited from continuing these efforts. Let‘s see where they go from here.
BP admits that the oil spill could reach 60,000 barrels a day. In the early days of the spill, it was estimated at 150 barrels per day. It is now feared that the oil will make its way up the east coast due to the currents in the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, nobody has even begun to address what the spill will do to Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean… I guess they are on their own. I do not imagine BP will be offering up compensation for these damages as they are already seeking cover under the cap and beginning to throw around the term “legitimate.” I trust we will all be just as understanding when an offshore rig blows up off the coast of Venezuela.
BP is now holding town meetings across the affected region. As part of this effort, the New York times reported that the company is trying to enlist and organize volunteers. That‘s right, they are asking the folks in the region who are now out of work to work for free to clean up the very mess that put them out of work. It‘s hard not to admire them for their chutzpa. Corporate responsibility and morality is of course another matter entirely.
Then there are the workers who were killed or injured. Can we expect BP to at least take care of their workers and their families. I do not think so. If they are seeking protection under the $75 million cap on damages to the people of the Gulf Coast, it seems a safe bet that they will now take shelter under the protections of worker‘s compensation to pay their workers pennies on the dollar for their injuries and damages.
So when BP says “We take full responsibility”, they don‘t really mean that. What they mean is that they will pay only those damages that they absolutely cannot wiggle out of. Perhaps, they, their lawyers, their lobbyists, and their media allies bathe in the same oil that is pouring into the Gulf. They are certainly every bit as slippery.