The Instigator
tvellalott
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
brian_eggleston
Con (against)
Winning
45 Points

That BP and its entire board should have all its/their wealth seized to pay for this disaster.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
brian_eggleston
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/16/2010 Category: News
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,751 times Debate No: 12354
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (14)
Votes (10)

 

tvellalott

Pro

Direct quote from http://en.wikipedia.org...
"Since the 20 April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and subsequent oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, in which 11 people died, BP's public standing and stock value have dropped substantially, losing nearly half of its market capitalization. The disaster, involving a leaking deep water oil well, has devastated a vast area of the United States marine environment, killed sealife and has a serious impact on the local fishing industry. Efforts at containing the spill were at first inconsequential but some progress has been made since the fitting of a cap to stem the leak."

I propose that EVERY member of the BP board should have all their assets liquidated and all wealth seized to pay for this catastrophic natural disaster.
The company's assets should also be liquidated.

It is time these wealthy CEOs take responsibility for the actions of the company they profit from. Anyone making a fortune as these men are, should have to face the billion dollar consequences of such things.

I don't want to argue the semantics of this debate either. Perhaps a small pension would be acceptable for some of the people who weren't directly involved in the decisions that lead to this disaster. All employees should be paid out their entitlements.

I look forward to my opponents arguments.
brian_eggleston

Con

I thank tvellalott for posting this very interesting argument, which can be summed up in the following passage:

"I propose that EVERY member of the BP board should have all their assets liquidated and all wealth seized to pay for this catastrophic natural disaster. The company's assets should also be liquidated."

I disagree. Indeed, I believe BP, its directors and shareholders have already been punished too much. Furthermore, I will argue that in a free-market, capitalist country such as the United States, BP has the commercial obligation to use every legal means to minimise any losses the company incurs as a result of the spill.

Let's examine the facts.

BP is now recovering around 15,000 barrels of crude per day from the Deepwater Horizon site in the Gulf of Mexico but tens of thousands of barrels continue to gush into the sea and all that wasted oil has already cost BP tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

But that's not the end of it, of course. While the management of BP have sympathised with Americans whose livelihoods are threatened by the spill, the general public should realise that BP is not a charity, it's a business and its primary responsibility is not to fishermen in Alabama or hoteliers in Florida, it is to its shareholders. Nevertheless, BP has already generously donated in excess of $1 billion to the people of Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

This is far in excess of the $75 million limit of liability for economic damages set under the 1990 Oil Pollution Act but it's still not enough according to the US Government. Senators are demanding the company cough up yet more cash and yesterday President Obama insisted BP set aside a whopping $20 billion in an escrow fund to cover future costs.

However, even that vast sum of money might just be the thin edge of the wedge. As Alistair Heath, Editor of City AM observed:

"Trial lawyers will do their best to make sure BP is responsible not only for the clean-up but also for all sorts of loosely defined economic damage. The kind of punishment that many in the US are now planning…would be closer to theft than to justice."

In addition, President Obama has asked BP suspend its quarterly dividend payment to its shareholders - investors who have already seen the value of their shares plummet as the result of bellicose threats from the US Government.

Now, because the directors of BP are remunerated largely in share options in order to minimise their exposure to income tax, they have personally suffered massive financial losses as a result of the incident.

For example, last year BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward was awarded �4,010,000.00 ($5,835,352.00). Assuming the first �10,000 was paid as salary (which is just over the UK income tax Personal Allowance and therefore enough to keep on him on the right side of the law) and the remainder was paid in tax-efficient share options, the value of his remuneration package will have dropped 64% since December 2009.

That means this spill has personally cost the BP Chief Executive �2,560,000.00 ($3,725,000.00).

I very much doubt there are many fishermen in Alabama or hoteliers in Florida who have personally lost that much money as a result of the spill, although some will probably put in speculative compensation claims for that sort of amount.

Moving on to the future of BP in the United States, the company must protect its investors' interests and divest itself of its US-based assets as soon as possible.

They may not achieve top dollar in such a fire sale and they will lose useful production facilities and a valuable market for their fuel. However, with oil extraction operations in 29 other countries and with global operating revenues of $239 billion per year, BP can afford to take the hit.

Most importantly, by ceasing trading in the US, BP will avoid being held financially liable for any further clean-up costs and compensation claims, and thus the money that shareholders in Britain and elsewhere have invested in the company will be protected.

Thank you.

Sources:
----------

City AM - Leader Column. "Time is fast running out for ailing BP"
http://www.cityam.com......

BP - Gulf of Mexico Response
http://www.bp.com......

BP – Investor Tools
http://www.bp.com...

The Daily Telegraph - Q&A. "BP oil spill: how are my finances affected?"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk......

HR Magazine – "How does BP justify a 41% remuneration increase for its chief executive?"
http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk...

CNN - GOP fights Democrats on Gulf moratorium, liability
http://www.cnn.com...
Debate Round No. 1
tvellalott

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

FACTS:
-At the time of this debate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has grown to around 337,000 tons of crude old, making it the forth largest to date. However, the next highest, the Ixtoc I (1) oil spill (around 460,000 tons) went on for around 12 months, where the Deepwater Horizon spill only began around 2 months ago.

-Unlike the Ixtoc I, which was an accident, this Deepwater Horizon spill is the result of negligence and cost cutting. In the months leading up to the April 20 disaster BP repeatedly cut corners to save money. (2)

REBUTTAL:
I understand that this disaster has already cost BP directors and shareholders a lot of money. I just don't care. It is time that an example is made. The damage done here cannot be completely reversed, even if a trillion dollars is spent. It would certainly do a lot of good though. Perhaps if the BP directors are completely crucified, other companies will think twice before making the same mistake. The Earth is getting more and more polluted. All the politics and all the money will mean nothing when all the air and all the water is toxic.

How many more ecological catastrophes will it take before one of these trillion dollar corporations is made accountable?

RESOURCES:
(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org...
brian_eggleston

Con

With many thanks to tvellaolott for his response, I do acknowledge that this disaster is one of the worst of its kind.

However, accidents can and do happen and there's no point in crying over spilt milk (or, indeed, oil). The important thing is to learn from the mistakes made and move on. Certainly, in this case, BP will be now be aware that cutting corners on safety in order to save a few quid here and there represents a false economy.

Moving on, the voters should be aware that not all BP shareholders are the high-rolling fat cats they are perceived to be.

For example, a BP shareholder might easily be a little old lady called Mrs. Slapper who lives in a deprived area of inner-London. She may have invested in the company to provide an income in her dotage because she is not entitled to a full state pension.

This lack of entitlement is due to the fact that she never paid any National Insurance contributions when she was younger, by the way, and not because she didn't work, which she did.

It is just that her now deceased husband was a hopeless, drug addicted gambler and she had to go out on the game in order to feed his habits and pay off his gambling debts.

Now, because earnings from prostitution cannot be taxed at source and the necessary National Insurance deductions made, the old lady had always put some of the money she earned turning tricks into her share portfolio, the performance of which is heavily dependent on the share value of FTSE 100 companies such as BP.

Sadly, since my last post, BP has caved into President Obama's demands and suspended the quarterly dividend. In effect BP have been forced to steal money from the likes of poor Mrs. Slapper in her council flat in Peckham and give it to wealthy businessmen on the Gulf coast of America instead.

That's a shame. It's a crying shame, it really is, but incredibly, my opponent's attitude is:

"I understand that this disaster has already cost BP...shareholders a lot of money. I just don't care."

Now that's just plain callous, isn't it?

Please, I urge you, dear voters - examine your consciences.

Shouldn't BP's right to keep its legally earned and already taxed profits be respected?

And shouldn't BP also be allowed to pass these profits on to blameless shareholders such as poverty-stricken pensioners like dear old Mrs. Slapper?

I think they should and that's why I am asking you to vote Con.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
tvellalott

Pro

I would like to begin by thanking my opponent for his hilarious response and look forward to the final round of this debate.

My opponent began by saying that ACCIDENTS can and do happen. Sure they do. Accidents happen all the time. However, there is a huge difference between an ACCIDENT and an INCIDENT.
You see, when I put my hand under the tap to wash my hands and scold myself with hot water, that is an accident.
When it's wet on the road and Mrs. Slapper's dog runs out and you swerve, slide and crash, that is an accident.
When you cut corners over and over to save a little bit of money on the oil rig you're leasing and you cause a catastrophic disaster which causes widespread damage and kills people, that's is an incident.

My opponent then stated that BP will now be aware that cutting corners to save money is bad. Yeah right, and Elvis and Michael Jackson just flew a Unicorn with purple polka dots past my window. You must be tripping balls my friend.
BP has a history of causing massive environmental damage. There have been incidents of illegal dumping, death through negligence and price manipulation in the last 20 years. Yeah, they paid, but bearing mind that a few hundred million dollars is not even a great loss to the company, they didn't pay enough.

My opponent used the example of Mrs. Slapper and her shares in BP as an example of an innocent person who will be hurt by my proposal. He says I am callous for not caring about her.
As far as I'm concerned the share market is just another way of gambling. You gamble on BP because they are a robust, multi-national powerhouse of a company. You gamble knowing that your profit may come from the destruction of the environment, you'd have to have your head stuck under a rock on Mars not to know that. So I still don't care.

The Ocean will probably be alright after this oil spill is stopped. Maybe some of the damage can be reversed. I'm asking, what about next time? How can we help prevent this sort of INCIDENT from happening? People go to jail for their entire lives for murder. Isn't BP murdering the Earth, the only Earth we've got, one oil spill at a time?

I think BP and its CEOs being stripped of all wealth would REALLY shake up a system that is in serious need of one.
brian_eggleston

Con

Many thanks to tvellalott for continuing to argue that the US Government should squeeze BP until its pips squeak.

As it happens, regardless of what the legislators do, it seems as though US lawyers acting for plaintiffs on the Gulf coast are about to take BP to the cleaners anyway. That's because BP's disaster planning was so seriously flawed.

Here are just two of the many bizarre oversights:

1 - BP's contingency plan for dealing with possible oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico includes provision to protect walruses – even though walruses are sub-Arctic animals, which aren't actually found in the Gulf of Mexico.

2 - The plan also mistakenly lists a Japanese home shopping website as one of its "primary equipment providers for BP in the Gulf of Mexico Region [for] rapid deployment of spill response resources on a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week basis".

http://www.private-eye.co.uk...

Did you know that at the weekend, while President Obama was on the Gulf coast, BP chief Tony Hayward was out at sea? Unfortunately, he wasn't on board a vessel taking part in the clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, rather he was on board a luxury yacht taking part in a regatta in the English Channel.

http://www.guardian.co.uk...

Naturally, Hayward's numerous gaffes have not endeared him or BP to the American public and any legal action against is, therefore, very likely to be successful - no matter how unjustified or out of proportion they may be.

For that reason, I would strongly urge BP to cut its losses and do a runner as soon as possible. They should sell all their US assets – it doesn't matter if they don't achieve full market value, if they don't gid rid of them the Americans will grab the lot anyway.

But, of course, it is quite wrong that BP should be forced to do this and it also sends the following message to other potential investors in the United States:

"Welcome to America. We hope your new business here will be successful. But here's a word of warning - if you mess up, the penalties are likely to be wildly disproportionate to your crime and may result in you being prosecuted and having all your assets seized without compensation - just because you are a foreigner. Got that, buddy? Okay, have a nice day."

If America see their plans to stick the boot into BP through, it will serve as a serious disincentive to future inward investment in the United States and, therefore, all American members of this site, together with all those with shares in BP, should vote against my opponent's proposal.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by unlikely 7 years ago
unlikely
BP should clean up...theyve put 20 billion aside...thats good ( sadly a few lives lost)..But what is shocking is OBamas failure to extradite the head of Union carbide...this firms negligence killed 3500 indians directly and many many more indirectly. Theve only paid 3 billion ( for 3500 lives!!!!!)....and the US refuse to extradite the ceo.
This new age of corporate responsibility is important but MUST be consistent....Esso has killed workers in nigeria and polluted an entire province ( billions in damage)....Obama act....but act consistently...
Posted by magpie 7 years ago
magpie
Curiously, no one mentioned Obama's culpability. 1. He lied when he said that a 'burn' was considered, but the wind was on-shore (smoke would have blown inland). The fact is that there was no preparation for a 'burn'. 2. He ignored 13 offers of assistance, from other countries. 3. It took him 60+ days to address suspension of the Jones Act, which would have allowed foreign ships to assist in the clean-up. 4. He appointed a commission to study corrections to the problems. Not a single member had any hands-on experience with oil spills. 5. He did not over-ride OSHA's interference with a most capable skimmer ship. The stated grounds was that there were insufficient life jackets. 6. It took the Coast Guard several weeks to clear several capable ships. 7. Booms and other equipment were not expedited to the scene in a timely manner. 8. No high-level meetings with top BP executives were conducted.
Perhaps, the debate should have been about confiscating the presidents wealth.
Posted by tvellalott 7 years ago
tvellalott
Thanks for that Roy. :D
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Pro had the burden of proof and made no case. The case would have to involve the amount of harm done, the benefit of overthrowing the laws in such a way as to effectively outlaw private enterprise, the supposed advantages of ex post facto laws now unconstitutional, and so forth. Con argued weakly, but well enough to dispose of Pro's non-case.
Posted by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
Alright, I can set up the challenge, however I might want to ammend the resolution just a bit as I don't completely agree with Pro's position here. I see no reason to liquidate the entire boards assests.
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
brian_eggleston
No problem, spatzoid, challenge me. Otherwise I can challenge you. You choose!
Posted by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
@brian

Would you mind debating this same topic? You made some very good points, one's in which I would love to debate.
Posted by ravenwaen 7 years ago
ravenwaen
You played the part exceptionally well, brian.
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
brian_eggleston
I don't believe it. The only time I win is when I pretend to be a capitalist bastard!
Posted by tvellalott 7 years ago
tvellalott
I'm getting smashed. Blah. :O
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