It affronts our sense of fair play when we consider someone having an accident having to pay for the accident and its consequences and repair. But it attacks our notion of fair play and common sense when we consider the victim of the accident paying for the accident, its consequences and its repair. In other words, we don’t think BP should have to pay for its “accident” and the consequences of the accident on the Gulf Coast until we consider the residents of the area having to pay for it. At which time it becomes 100% obvious that the perpetrator of the accident, not its victims, must pay for their “accident.”
What then should be the difference between an accident and a non-accident where there is damage to someone or some things? Simple. If there was intent, there ought not to be merely civil damages; there ought also to be criminal charges and criminal penalties. And if you cannot charge a corporation with criminal intent, you surely can charge its leadership with criminal intent.
Why, you may say, this an attack on the corporate privilege of limited liability. Yes it sure is. “Limited liability” is an important capitalist privilege that allows a man who would commit a crime to incorporate and then not have to suffer the penalty for committing the crime. Limited liability is an attack on justice. We as a society really should revisit the institution of limited liability when it protects guilty men from their guilt.
BP and its own insurers must pay for the clean-up and the damage done to people’s livelihoods and the environmental damage. With no “cap”, no limit on what it must pay. And, should a proper investigation reveal that actions were taken that may have contributed to the “accident” happening, then criminal charges against BP management must be made. When the sacred privilege of limited liability defies justice and common sense, limited liability be damned.