Making people ‘whole’

Several times, President Obama has said that BP must make people “whole” for the damages caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident. So whom does that include? For the families of the 11 men who lost their lives on the exploding rig, no amount of money will ever make them whole.

The commercial fishermen of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi who can no longer earn a living thanks to BP would certainly be legitimate recipients of compensation.

But what about the other Gulf commercial mariners? It looks like the disaster will end up putting them and many of the companies they work for out of business until federal regulators take their finger off the pause button. Does BP have a responsibility to make them whole, too? I would say they sure do.

Remember, last quarter BP posted a $6.1 billion profit, so it has big, deep pockets. But deep enough to pay everybody affected? And where do you draw the line? The ripples from this accident reach far beyond the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

Almost no one will emerge from this mess “whole.” But this is BP’s fault, and it will have to pony up some serious coin in an attempt to compensate as many people as possible. 

About the author

Bruce Buls

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).

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