This is beginning to look a lot like the Wall Street bailout all over again: the privatization of profit and the socialization of risk.
BP has been making a big sanctimonious stink about how it’s going to pay for the entire cleanup, as well it should.
But after that, the company is only liable for $75 million in compensation to mitigate the damage done to everyone from shrimp fishermen to mom-and-pop motels along the coast.
Considering all the tort lawyers who have swarmed the Gulf Coast to sign up clients, that $75 mil isn’t going to stretch very far. “Here’s your hundred bucks minus my commission, Ma’am. Have a good life.”
The U.S. Senate is talking about raising the cap for damages to $10 billion, but you know how that’s going to go. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska will put a personal hold on it and it won’t go anywhere. She doesn’t even have to make it one of those infamous “secret holds,” since there will be no downside for her back in her home state.
I love her reasoning: A cap that high will squeeze all the little people out of the offshore drilling business. Only the huge mega-corporations will be able to afford it. Right. “Hey, Duane! Let’s take that money you got for sellin’ the Fairlane and go sink us a billion-dollar rig out there in the gulf. We’ll get rich quick.”
So, absent making BP and related villains pony up, who will that leave to make us all whole again?
Us, of course.