Feinberg ain’t no Santa Claus…
Ken Feinberg, British Petroleum employee and steward of the BP claims fund wrote himself a little editorial the other day in Bloomberg Businessweek titled: How to Give Away $5 Billion. The article came complete with an illustration of a man, presumably Ken, holding a money bag while outstretched, demanding hands come in from outside the border of the drawing and there, in a nutshell, is everything that’s wrong with the GCCF and Ken’s dismissive attitudes.
The people of the Gulf Coast are not looking for a hand out.
They are looking to be compensated for damages from the worst environmental disaster to ever hit this country.
In his rather self-congratulatory editorial, Ken writes the best way to give out $5 billion dollars is with “speed and fairness and consistency,” which not coincidentally are three of the biggest complaints about the claims process: questions about its fairness and consistency concealed behind an utter lack of transparency and the slow allocation of payments while people suffer untold financial hardships.
Really Ken…people aren’t clamoring for the GCCF to be audited because they are satisfied with the process, at ease with what you’ve done and are doing, many in fact are rather angry, which is why it’s no wonder you’ve learned to live with “the potshots and the criticism.” You’d have to be used to it by now. They’re coming and have come from the US Justice Department, politicians both local and federal, various attorneys general and claimants across four states.
Ken writes, “You try to err on the side of being generous without being Santa Claus. Anyone can give money away,” and that would be quite correct, anybody can. Anyone can also claim to be the second coming of Christ when they came down to the Gulf in June of last year making all kinds of promises about speed and fairness and generosity only to see these promises disintegrate into the reality that you were getting more than you bargained for. It was and is a big job, Ken and a difficult one, but when you set people up to fail with causality in health claims, when you make people wait for interim claims while completing the easier, less lucrative quick claims, when you force people to gamble with their future by signing legal waiver forms and when people become so fed up with your claims process they just want to take the money and run, not from a sense of satisfaction and being made whole, but from a sense of disgust with another corporation and their henchmen who screwed an entire region…Ken, you’re not Santa Claus, you’re not even a lowly elf, you’re a wealthy, self-satisfied Boston attorney whose making quite a tidy profit for himself in the claims business.
Finally, Ken adds:
“These programs should be the exception rather than the rule. Bad things happen to good people every day, but I didn’t see a program after Katrina or Joplin. Policymakers need to be wary about doing an end run around the traditional way of resolving disputes in this country.”
What the hell does that even mean?
Here’s a thought, maybe the reason you didn’t see a claims process after Joplin and Katrina is 1. its pretty fucking hard to take a tornado to court and 2. Taking the Army Corps of Engineers to court for the failure of the levees has been near impossible and if going after Katrina itself, well, see #1 again, only replace tornado with hurricane. British Petroleum’s poor management and the resulting explosion of the Deepwater Horizon was not a natural disaster, it was man-made, and came as a result of time-saving and profit-seeking by an oil company that was already making money hand over fist.
Greed, Ken…simple greed…that’s why there is a claims process.
Rather than trying to publish your bullshit at Bloomberg where maybe you hoped people wouldn’t see it, why don’t you hold another town hall in the Gulf so you can tell the people to their face what a great job you’ve done.
Hell, you can even bring your security team, again.
Have a nice day.