Thursday, May 06, 2010

HOW 'BOUT THEM FREE MARKETS: Mr Cole, on the news that the government's response to the BP spill is to raise the cap on damages they'll have to pay:

Here’s a revolutionary idea- why don’t we get rid of the limit altogether! If BP or Exxon cuts corners and makes a hash of things, and they cause 60 billion dollars worth of damage, they are on the hook for the whole 60 billion dollars! And if they can’t pay for the whole bill, the company is liquidated, the shareholders get wiped out, and the company ceases to exist.

How bout a little responsibility from our corporate persons? in other words. I am at pains to think of what's wrong with this line of thinking. The worst part will be actual not-hateful people with the misfortune of having the bulk of their savings in BP stock (and yes, you should not put all your investment eggs in one basket, and people should know that, but not everybody does.) Kind of like the people who lost all their money to Madoff--yes, they invested dumbly, but they are also in a sense innocent. Perhaps some sort of means-test to see which wiped-out shareholders will get paid out of the BP dissolution fund first? Maybe...

(Not that the US government could fairly dissolve a foreign corporation like BP. Could they just grab whatever the US corporate person's assets are? Would there be anything left, since they'll certainly get away with transferring lots of things to the British corporate parent?)

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