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Trickle-down Gulf Wreck-onomics

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On Wednesday, BP announced a settlement compensating 100,000 plaintiffs, alleged by the BP shill to resolve "the substantial majority of legitimate claims of cleanup workers and residents of specified Gulf Coast beachfront and wetlands areas." That leaves thousands uncompensated. And this settlement deals with respiratory, eye and skin conditions reported soon-after exposure, with telling exclusions for mental health, potential cancers and birth defects. On future claims, moreover, the burden will be on plaintiffs to prove direct cause and effect. Oh, that's easy.


To cap the miserable legacy, a presidential commission has chastised not the slavishly passive White House (bigtime Obama shortfall for me), nor the myopic, max-this-quarter-profit industry (with BP only the worst). Instead, the commission assailed Congress as the big-time, post-spill culprit, criticizing its defiant refusal to enact new guidelines. No doubt, but they don't stand alone. On the docket are punitive legal ripples that could knock BP for a loop. Collapse of a major resource the size of the Gulf takes a long time, but, like climate change, appears do-able by human blunders. I wonder what it would take to make BP collapse -- $100 billion fine for criminal negligence?


Finally, sociology professor Steve Picou (Univ. So. Alabama) observes that while natural disasters bring people together, man-made or technological disasters (compounded by woeful state responses) breed "distrust in government and other institutions," reinforcing "an "every man or himself' mentality."  That will reinforce more "frothy gunk" in unthinking rightwing and libertarian brains, more poison to our political atmosphere. A collapse thus of a major natural resource inevitably expands, well beyond billions of defenseless fish, crab, dolphins and turtles unequipped by evolution against toxic bombs of "frothy gunk." So, what's our evolutionary excuse, then or now, and how do we explain a wasteland the size of the Gulf to grandchildren?


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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)

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