Letter to the Editor

Protecting the powerless

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My friend, Jack Rickard, seemed a bit overheated in his op-ed accusing the president of piracy, organized crime and high treason. All this over causing BP to create a fund to pay for the harm BP caused.

I am a BP shareholder, and I have a few questions. Did the president threaten to jail BP executives without due process? Did he threaten to send the Navy to seize BP ships and property? Did he threaten to end the right of BP to do business in the United States?

Or did he threaten to fine BP under existing law for each barrel of oil spilled into the Gulf? Did BP agree to $20 billion because it is likely to be cheaper than a true accounting under existing law? Does BP avoid litigation from claimants who settle under the fund? And does BP get back any money not used to pay claims out of that fund? In short, was this a business decision which was in BP's best interest as the chairman of the board told shareholders?

The answer to each question in the second paragraph is "no," and the answer to each question in the third paragraph is "yes."

This president evidently is willing to use the law to achieve justice for the victims of corporate errors. He is evidently willing to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to protect the powerless from the powerful.

Some call this tyranny. Some call it justice.

JOHN L. COOK, Cape Girardeau