Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

(Updated) Ron Paul calls BP victim compensation a ‘PR stunt’

Posted in BP, corporations, deregulation, environment, offshore drilling, politics, regulation, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 24, 2010

* Updated the headline: I originally wrote that Rand Paul said the following statement. It was actually his equally oblivious father, Ron. The rest of the article is really about Rand’s previous statements that illustrated how disengaged he is from average Americans, and his sense of entitlement that probably comes from his awful dad, whose terribleness is demonstrated in the quote.

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rand Paul turned out to be a DNC plant.

BP’s $20 billion escrow fund is a “PR stunt” that came about through a “suspicious” process, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said Tuesday night.

Though Paul didn’t go as far as fellow Texan Rep. Joe Barton (R), who called the fund a “shakedown,” he nevertheless said the “process is sort of suspicious.”

“They have agreed to this and this is sort of a PR stunt as far as I’m concerned,” Paul told Fox News. “BP had already been making a lot of payments to people who had been injured.”

He said this… on television…while the crisis is still happening.

This follows Rand’s comments about unemployed people being a bunch of lazy shit sacks, who are too “picky” and insist on passing up all kinds of sweet, sweet employment opportunities (like the jobs that don’t offer benefits or a living wage).

Rand casually drops these ignorance bombs in a way only a legacy appointment can. He is the son of millionaire Ron Paul, who has been a Texas Congressman for over three decades. The reason Rand thinks poor people “just don’t work hard enough,” and compensating victims of gross corporate negligence is a “PR stunt” is because he’s a rich selfish asshole, who has been handed everything in his life.

I wish someone would ask him about William Kruse, the despondent boat captain, later hired by BP for the Gulf cleanup, who recently committed suicide. Kruse was reportedly upset about the oil leak, the cleanup efforts, and his lost income. He was wondering how he would be paid for taking part in the Vessel of Opportunity program.

Maybe Rand would dismiss Kruse blowing his head off as a “PR stunt,” too. What a drama queen! Rand would probably say there are hundreds of thousands of other victims who haven’t checked out early over a little “environmental calamity.” It’s  a shame old Willy couldn’t handle his share of hard knocks, but two tears in a bucket, let’s move on, Free Market, blah blah blah my dad is Ron Paul.

As for other issues (doctors pleading with Obama that respirators be issued to cleanup workers and numerous health complaints,) I’m sure Rand’s solution will be the only solution he seems capable of yelping: “deregulation!” Because — and this can’t be repeated enough — the Libertarian solution to this crisis is to let private business regulate itself. Yet, because of the woeful ineptitude of the MMS, that’s essentially what BP got to do for all these years — “regulate” their own industry.

And here we are. The self-regulation stuff doesn’t work. For years, the US government has strayed to the right as part of a quest to be pro-business, and to secure corporate dollars. Part of that journey entailed adopting Randian principles (the Rand and Ayn kind) of deregulation, which is why the MMS behaved more as extension of the oil industry than an aggressive check on its power.

We have no idea what the ultimate cost of the BP disaster will ultimately be. However, we do know that the effects of environmental disaster linger, extend for decades, and create generational ruin. Take, for example the Exxon catastrophe:

After more than 20 years, the fishermen affected by the Exxon Valdez spill settled for less than 10% of the damages sought. Divided among them, assuming all of them survived to finally be compensated, it amounts to about $192,307 and some change to compensate for all that was lost to the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Three years after the 11 million-gallon spill in Prince William Sound blackened 1,500 miles of Alaska coastline, the herring on which he and other Cordova fishermen heavily relied disappeared from the area. Platt and some others stuck around, fishing for salmon and hoping things would improve.

The herring never returned to Cordova. Platt’s income plummeted, severely straining his marriage and psyche. He dipped into his sons’ college funds to support his family.

“People’s lives were ruined,” Platt said. “There were damn good fishermen here in the Sound, and they just said, ‘Screw it’ and left, and tried to make a living elsewhere.”

As for Platt, who stayed: “I wasted 20 years of my life,” he said.

Platt and other people in the Alaskan village of about 2,500 people say they still are suffering economically and emotionally 21 years after the oil disaster. About 3,400 miles away, an oil leak that started last month in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening the Gulf Coast.

“Here we go again,” Platt said of the oil leak in the Gulf. “I feel real bad for the people who are going to potentially go through what we did here.”

The CNN article quoted above says that the herring loss alone cost the region $400 million in the last 21 years. The average fisherman lost 30% of his income, while those who specialized in herring lost everything. A fifth of the fishermen suffer from anxiety and 40% from severe depression.

Man, those PR stunts are everywhere. You’d think ruined Alaskan fisherman would be too cold/clinically depressed to become master media manipulators, but I guess I’m just more naive than the astute Mr. Paul.

Luckily, the gubment didn’t buy into the whole “wah wah, we’re ruined” story, and left communities that were ruined — forever — by Exxon, with around $190,000 each. That’s less than $200K for their obliterated industry, the former lifelines of many communities, their permanently poisoned environment (18 years later, Exxon oil was still showing up in ocean samples,) and medical bills.

The toll of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is a sadly familiar one: 250,000 dead birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals–all victims of the oil tanker that ran over a reef late one April night and drained 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound.

There are others whom almost no one talks about, although unlike the birds, most of them are still alive. They are the people who scraped oil off the beaches, skimmed it off the top of the water, hosed it off rocks. Workers who stood in the brown foam 18 hours a day, who came back to their sleeping barges with oil matted in their hair, ate sandwiches speckled with oil, steered boats through a brown hydrocarbon haze that looked like the smog from hell.

After that summer, some found oil traces in their lungs, in their blood cells, in the fatty tissue of their buttocks. They got treated for headaches, nausea, chemical burns and breathing problems, and went home. But some never got well. Steve Cruikshank of Wasilla, Alaska, has headaches that go on for days. Two years ago, he was hospitalized when his lungs nearly stopped working. “The doctor said, ‘I’m going to give you the strongest antibiotic known to man, and you’re either going to survive or not survive. I don’t know what’s wrong with you.’ What’s wrong is, I haven’t felt right since that oil spill.”

Predicting the reach of the “worst case scenario” is impossible for Gulf residents. Even with the knowledge of the Exxon legacy firmly imbedded in our collective memories, there’s no way to understand the BP oil volcano’s detriment. This is the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history. Ballparking a compensation figure is plain stupid, but saying attempting to try and form some kind of estimate damages is a “PR stunt” is simply evil.

None of this should surprise anyone, though. This is the Randian solution to everything: You’re on your own. That’s a fine belief to have, but not if you’re a politician in a democracy. We elect officials to serve the people – not to abandon them in their hour of need.

8 Responses

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  1. History Punk said, on June 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    It would be nice if the allegedly liberal media would run a story or two about how Rand Pauls’ rich daddy facilitated his life. See if Junior Paul is the self made man or the beneficiary of nepotism.

  2. Ignatius Crumwald said, on June 24, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Rand Paul aside, I disagree with your read of the Ron Paul comment. I don’t see him as siding with BP on this, although he could be long term. The interviews I’ve seen him in he is quite clear that their should be no ceiling on BP’s liability in this spill.
    It seems to me in this comment that he’s pointing out the fact that BP has already been handing out shut-up money all over the gulf, as reported, and this escrow of 20bil, a drop in bucket IMO, is a political calculation based on no real damage numbers, estimates, or current cost needs.
    A large number pulled out of thin air for the purpose of calming the public while not addressing the problem can be called nothing less than a stunt.
    I suppose they could have just dragged the empty suit that runs the company out onto the WH lawn and shot him in the head, too. That would make us all feel better but the problem is bigger than money and deeper than a CEO strawman making promises he couldn’t keep to a nation bent on keeping gas prices low so economic realities don’t harm its future war efforts, particularly in Iran.

  3. Bob said, on June 24, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Helluva piece. I’m in Kentucky, doing my damndest to stem the tide of Rand insanity. I’m linking your post.

  4. Marvin said, on June 24, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    It’s insane to me the way the Republicans are coming out in defense of BP instead of the American people… when will folks wake up and say “ENOUGH!” … We must beat the Republicans this fall.

    Consider this: If the Republicans take control of the House Joe Barton will be in control of regulating the oil industry. We can’t let that happen.

  5. Public Frenemy said, on June 25, 2010 at 12:33 am

    I doubt Rand Paul would be so generous with BP if his daddy was one of the workers that was killed on Deepwater Horizon. Just like the Massey mine explosion, this was only an “accident” if you consider reckless disregard for basic safety procedures an “accident.” Unfortunately, the BP execs who made the fatal decision not to re-seal the cap when the engineers begged them to will never be tried on criminal charges (neither will Massey’s Don Blankenship), as long as they keep the blood money flowing to politicians.

    On a totally different sidenote, in the photo above, doesn’t it kind of look like Rand Paul is about to grab somebody’s ass or at least do something really creepy?

  6. […] Although the quote attribution was revised, for a great summation of the sense of millionaire entitlement that Rand Paul has, click here. […]

  7. Matlo said, on June 25, 2010 at 7:51 am

    lol, liberatarianism

  8. Trefor said, on June 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Meh I actually agree with his comments but probably for different reasons than he does. It IS a publicity stunt, I don`t think it should be, I certainly think they should be compensated and probably far more than what is going to actually trickle down and come to the individuals and small business owners and the like who are legitimately suffering. But the political motivations behind this is all about a big publicity stunt where they try to act like the hero’s of the american public and don’t loose too badly in november.

    In particular, the creation of the 20 billion dollar fund is all fine and good but the question as to the extent to which this is going to filter down to the people who need it is not at all guaranteed but it sure paints obama in a good light that he gets to waste his inaugural oval office address to act like the anti-BP tough guy while totally ignoring the kind of historic issues that COULD be talked about like say the lack of regulations throughout the oil/gas industry (I think you plugged the marceluas shale in a citizens radio episode for instance) or more importantly our utter dependence on oil which is the reason we are resorting to drilling at such depths in the first place or any other number of important issues. So ya, being pro-victim and anti-BP is obviously the right direction but it isn’t enough and I suspect far too much this stance is taken for political publicity reasons.


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