Sitting on the beach in Destin, Florida. I’m held hostage by the white sand, blue water, orange juice and sparkling wine.
I did a phone interview for a story my first day here. Since then the beautiful weather and steamed shrimp has stifled any motivation to do more than dig my toes deeper into the refined grains of rock and minerals of the Gulf of Mexico.
I intend to finish three stories while I’m here, but you know what they say about good intentions.
This time last year there was a black hole bleeding approximately 798,000 gallons of toxic Texas tea into the gulf daily. One year later many victims are still waiting for compensation.
Their lawyers say BP has failed to comply with “the letter and spirit” of the U.S. Oil Pollution Act by using “coercive tactics” to force people to accept inadequate payments. They convince the victims that they are only eligible for a small amount of money and they have to sign a full release to receive it. Many have accepted the terms because they can’t afford to wait anymore.
BP set up a $20 billion account to pay victims and damages last year. To date, the company has paid more than 20,000 claimants for a total of $250 million, fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg said. Altogether BP has paid about $4.3 billion in damages.
But the company is doing extremely well financially. They reported a $5.3 billion profit for the second quarter of 2011. It’s a shame the property owners, businesses, and people that live in the Gulf aren’t doing as well as BP is one year after the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Like the hole that spewed 205 million gallons of oil into the gulf, there is a hole in our system that allows the elite to abuse it. They have the financial means to jockey the courts, destroy environments and ruin lives while making ridiculous profits.
We should slash the red tape of our legal system and use it to bind the hands of giant corporations that use it to exploit the country’s middle and working-classes. Some of these bloated companies would inevitably get tangled and asphyxiate trying to get free. Like animals in an oil spill. But capitalism is survival of the fittest.
This 90 degree heat and cool ocean breeze must be getting to me. I’ll just listen to the waves crash, go back to burying my toes in the sand and consider doing the same with my head. After this mimosa.