Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's all about them

Dambala has been writing about the BP claims process forever now. In the introductory text to this interview with attorney Lionel Sutton, he describes one crucial lesson he's learned that many others seem to have missed.
The problem is, this story isn't a dichotomy. There is a third party, the most important party, the people of the Gulf Coast who have been devastated by the BP oil spill and will continue to suffer for decades. The reality is both BP and the "good ol' boys" running the show aren't nearly as divided with each other as the two entities are against the people to whom they are supposed be providing relief. That complexity seems to be too difficult for MSM outlets like 60 Minutes, The New York Times, The LA Times, WWL-TV and a host of others to wrap their heads around.
BP vs. the claims attorneys seems like an obvious way to frame this story. So it isn't surprising to see most reporters set out to tell it that way. On the other hand, maybe the assumption that this process will result in justice for the actual victims of the disaster which set in motion is a little naive.  

Matt Taibbi's new book is called, The Divide. It's about the emergence of a bifurcated system of American justice where the poor are held starkly accountable for most meager offenses and the wealthy are treated more softly and in many cases are even above the law. This is from a recent interview with Taibbi in Salon.
Morally, it doesn’t work anymore. You just cannot have a society where people instinctively know that certain people are above the law, because it will create total disrespect for authority among everybody else. And that’s completely corrosive. You need to have people believing in the system to some degree — even if it’s just an illusion, you need to have them believing. And that was … another thing I was trying to get to in this book, the difference between what happened in the Bush years, with the scandals with Adelphi and Enron and Tyco, and what happened now, [when] they just stopped seeing the necessity of keeping up appearances. They didn’t even make a few symbolic prosecutions, and so it leaves the entire public with this glaring statistic that there were no prosecutions and there was massive crime. How does that make anybody else feel? How does it make you feel when you pay a speeding ticket, you can’t write that off, but HSBC can write off its $1.9 billion fine for drug trafficking? People start to think about these things, and they start losing their faith in the system and it doesn’t work anymore.
Is this process a farce entirely?  Well, no, it's more complicated than that.  But should someone be asking whether its more about protecting BP and enriching the attorneys who play ball with BP than it is about remunerating victims and exacting justice?  Yeah someone should be asking that.  Probably more than just one person, though. 

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