Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the Libertarian Party, in a statement concerning government reaction to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:
When President Obama gave his Oval Office speech on Tuesday, there was one important word missing: the word ‘liability.’ The president never mentioned that, thanks to liability caps provided by the federal government, BP was able to engage in riskier activities than it would have otherwise. If BP had known in advance that it would be fully liable for all damages related to an oil spill, it probably would have taken greater safeguards. When you know that your liability will be strictly limited, cutting corners becomes a lot more attractive.
The spill will cause a lot of damage to the property and livelihood of people living along the Gulf. We have a well-developed system of civil courts to help people obtain compensation. Unfortunately, the legislative and executive branches have inappropriately trampled on this territory, and they seem to be trying to take the place of the courts.
The president has apparently convinced BP to put $20 billion in some kind of compensation account. He said in his speech that it will be ‘administered by an independent third party.’ Will this third party be able to decide what ‘legitimate claims’ are, and how much they should receive? Assessing damages should be done by courts, not by political bureaucrats appointed in backroom deals between the president and a large corporation.
And yet again: when we get government out of the business of limiting liability, companies will start to act as if they have something to lose and conduct their businesses accordingly.
2010-06-18 » madlibertarianguy