"Ah mercy, mercy me Ah things ain't what they used to be”
Marvin Gaye, Mercy Mercy Me, 1971
In the aftermath of BP's oil spill, the oil giant promised the financially damaged residents of the Gulf Coast, that BP would make the victims "whole." BP has made extraordinary promises related to restitution in which they have repeatedly stated that they would not leave the Gulf “until the job is done” . As we saw in the first part of this series, The Great Gulf Coast Holocaust , BP is excellent at compensating a miniscule number of victims and then BP parades these same people out in the eye of the public while pretending as if this microscopic number of fully compensated victims are the norm when it comes to BP restitution (3, 4, 5). Nothing could be further from the truth.
Restitution or Destitution?
For those who are not lucky enough to have won the BP propaganda lottery by having been selected to be the face of BP fairness while receiving financial restitution in exchange for assisting BP in their shameless self-promotion tactics, there are untold numbers of Gulf workers who have been underpaid or not paid at all, despite BP’s legal obligation to make the victims whole. Fisherman, Nga Da, is one of the unlucky ones and he has grown weary of BP and its stonewalling tactics with regard to paying him. Da states “For 20 years, "I earned $1,500 for 2 months from BP. Then I got $800 for a month afterwards. Then I received nothing for the past five months." Broke and destitute, as a result of BP’s broken promises coupled with BP’s failure to live up to their legal obligations, Da borrowed money from his younger sister to pay rent. Meanwhile, the BP's claims facility offered a lump sum $5,000 for not suing, "but I don't know the future because there is no prospect for employment because most of the processing companies have closed ."
More Voices from the Gulf
Meet Kindra Arnesen (7), she is the Gulf Coast’s modern day version of Erin Brockovich. Kindra has risen from a position of obscurity to become her region’s most prolific and tireless advocate for the Gulf Coast victims and she tells a far different story than the tale that BP is trying spin. Arnesen states that “I am in touch with all the fisheries along the coast and I cannot find one who has been compensated (8)”. She further states, ”BP is lying through their teeth as I can personally name scores of people who have been bankrupted by BP and others who have not been paid a dime [8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14].” Arnesen adds that “My husband, David, a shrimp fisherman, made over $150,000 the year before the oil spill. His business has been destroyed by BP who offered him a one-time payment of $5,000 for the loss of his business. Kindra expressed fear about the consequences of speaking out against BP because David Arnesen is now working in BP’s clean-up efforts in order to make ends meet. Kindra notes that everyone is afraid to speak out against the injustices of BP because “BP is the King and they are running the Gulf [7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14].” Amazingly, what David Arnesen makes in the BP cleanup, like the other vessels of opportunity, has his earnings reduced by BP, in the amount that they have been paid by the compensation monies [9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]. This illegal action by BP has relegated these victims into the dubious role of serving as an indentured servant to BP interests. This kind of BP tap dancing prompted Michigan Congressman, John Conyer, to state “Many have been forced to accept the only available jobs -- working for BP to clean up the contaminated waters and beachfront. Now, these Gulf residents have learned that their clean-up income will be deducted from any lost-wages settlements from BP. If that happens, they will have risked their health to help BP meet its legal obligations, without any net financial benefit for them or their families. Despite federal law requiring BP to pay both lost wages of workers and the clean-up costs, BP is essentially cleaning up the spill at the hands of free labor (15).” This is abuse of an already victimized population of the highest order.
BP has even gone so far as to employ circular logic in denying claims and they hope that nobody will notice. Brett Broussard, who worked as an offshore oil service boat pilot, is outraged that BP continues to lie to about the fact that BP is not denying claims. Broussard said BP told him he was ineligible because the moratorium against drilling for oil in the Gulf. "They're parsing words. I am not eligible because of the moratorium, but their spill caused the moratorium," Broussard said . Plato and Socrates are rolling over in their graves.
The significant loss of revenue from jobs that have disappeared as a result of the oil spill, is not the only financial disaster faced by Gulf Coast residents. As many unpaid victims see their homes go into foreclosure, they are not only losing their most valuable investment, the dramatic increase in foreclosures as documented by a recent MIT study, found that foreclosure drops the price of a home by 27%, they are also affecting the neighboring houses by 3-7% . Subsequently, Gulf Coast homes are in midst of at least a 30% plunge in value. Therein lays the principal reason why many residents do not feel they can relocate to other parts of the country in search of more permanent employment .
With Friends Like Feinberg, Who Needs Enemies?
Kenneth Feinberg, the point man in charge of BP's $20 billion compensation fund, is commencing to wind down BP’s compensation operations in the Gulf Coast with only 20% of the total fund having been paid out . Do you remember Part One’s memorable Feinberg exchange with Elmer Rogers, et al ? This should cause all who want justice to be carried out, to have extreme reservations about who is in charge of carrying out the compensation efforts. Ken Feinberg is the same man who denied 911 First Responder’s claims of impaired lung functioning leading to an inability to work (see Michael Moore’s portrayal in the movie Sicko). This is the same Ken Feinberg who “sentenced “ several homeless Katrina survivors to be forcibly evacuated by Blackwater and forced to live in Formaldehyde infested FEMA trailers resulting in severe lung impairments.
Feinberg has stated “I'm not prepared to commit to or predict how much of that $20 billion will be used ." What about the BP-caused declining real estate values? What about the catastrophic pandemic of chemical agent induced illnesses which are beginning to emerge in horrific numbers in the Gulf? Why not do the right thing, Mr. Feinberg, and use the entire $20 billion dollar compensation fund? And when the money runs out, the Gulf Coast residents should go back to President Obama and press BP for even more money. It should be noted that Feinberg is paid by BP. Where is the government oversight and who is protecting the interest of the people? Does the phrase, “The Fox is watching the hen house” come to mind? Feinberg adds "But I continue to believe that BP's financial commitment is sufficient to pay the claims." With the BP paid Ken Feinberg at the helm of the compensation fund, his last statement is no doubt his most accurate in this whole compensation debacle.
Rules for Thee but Not for Me
Seems like everyone in the Gulf is losing money except for BP and its corporate Gulf Coast partners consisting of Goldman Sachs , former BP CEO Tony Hayward , TransOcean  and of course the infamous Halliburton  have all experienced major gains in corporate profits as a result of the spill in this unconscionable act of profiteering off of the misery of millions of people.Perhaps BP’s mindset can best be captured from a comment made by BP’s Community Outreach Coordinator from Terrebonne Parrish, LA., in which the director, identified only as Aymee M., amazingly stated that “…….people don’t really want a claim….”
Not only is BP getting away with not paying for their epic crime against humanity, many in the Gulf will tell you that they are also getting away with murder. One of Kindra Arnesen’s initial goals was to convince BP to give its workers masks because all of the clean-up workers are becoming ill, very seriously ill. The, fear no evil Kindra Arnesen, who I first met in November of 2010, is a changed woman. Kindra is still fearlessly fighting the good fight, but she is decidedly worn down and frightened for the future of her family. Her fears are justified because now it is now being discovered that many of the Gulf’s people are losing much more than their wealth, they are losing their collective health . And if history is indeed a good teacher, it should be expected that many of the Gulf’s adult population will not live to see age fifty  and for many children living in the Gulf Coast region today, many will not likely live to see their own children reach high school provided they can even bear children. The slow burn genocide being perpetrated upon the people in the Gulf is the focus of Part three of The Great Gulf Coast Holocaust.
(Annie DeRiso contributed to this article)
(1) BP’s Official Youtube Channel. BP's Bob Dudley on Earning Back Trust and Building a Sustainable BP for the Future http://www.youtube.com/user/BPplc#p/u/16/ZKEkL9oHFbg
(2) (BP) Voices from the Gulf: Louisiana Restaurant Owners http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbqjOiCJEGM&feature=channel_video_title
(3) (BP) Voices from the Gulf: Louisiana Shrimper (Mike Blanchard, a shrimper from Chauvin, Louisiana).
(4) (BP) Voices from the Gulf: Florida Business Owners (Rick Scali and wife manage vacation rental homes in Destin, FL.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL6ooGCMlSs&feature=relmfu
(5) Dave Hodges interviews Kindra Arnesen on The Common Sense Show, June 19, 2011. http://126.96.36.199/archives32/Hodges/2011/06/Hodges_1_061911_210000.mp3
(6) NAACP Special Investigation “My Name is 6508799” State of the Gulf, One Year After the Oil Drilling Disaster April 20, 2011 http://naacp.3cdn.net/201f13fed7009f7191_z8m6bkkhv.pdf(7) Kindra Arnesen at the NOLA Gulf Emergency Summit. June 25, 2010. http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/kindra-arnesen-at-the-nola-gulf-emergency-summit/
(8) CNN. Elizabeth Cohen. Fisherman's wife breaks the silence. June 3, 2010 http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/06/03/gulf.fishermans.wife/index.html
(9) Dave Hodges interviews Kindra Arnesen and Vickie Perrin about the ongoing Gulf crisis. The Common Sense Show with Dave Hodges (Part One). Republic Broadcasting Network. January 30, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=co3cNUgrL8k
(10) Dave Hodges interviews Kindra Arnesen and Vickie Perrin about the ongoing Gulf crisis. The Common Sense Show with Dave Hodges (Part Two). Republic Broadcasting Network. January 30, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoOGuO1eOT4
(11) Dave Hodges interviews Kindra Arne about the ongoing Gulf crisis sen and Vickie Perrin about the ongoing Gulf crisis. The Common Sense Show with Dave Hodges (Part Three). Republic Broadcasting Network. January 30, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hujs0kq9n-0
(12) Dave Hodges interviews Kindra Arnesen and Vickie Perrin about the ongoing Gulf crisis. The Common Sense Show with Dave Hodges (Part Four). Republic Broadcasting Network. January 30, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AOLD5Mo3_M
(13) Dave Hodges interviews Kindra Arnesen and Vickie Perrin about the ongoing Gulf crisis. The Common Sense Show with Dave Hodges (Part Five). Republic Broadcasting Network. January 30, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_dN08dsST4
(14) Dave Hodges interviews Kindra Arnesen and Vickie Perrin about the ongoing Gulf crisis. The Common Sense Show with Dave Hodges (Part Six). Republic Broadcasting Network. January 30, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mDpgzXM7rc
(15) John Conyers (D-Mich.). Feinberg let BP renege on compensation promise. The Hill’s Congress Blog. 09/02/10 http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-a-environment/116923-feinberg-let-bp-renege-on-compensation-promise
(16) Brian Skoloff & Holbrook Mohr. Huffington Post. BP Not Denying, Just Not Paying Nearly 40,000 Oil Spill Claims. August 9, 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/09/bp-delaying-payment-claims-oil-spill_n_676493.html
(17) Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office. Nobody’s Home: MIT economist measures how much foreclosures lower housing prices. August, 2010. http://www.housingpredictor.com/gulf-coast-homes.html
(18) Kevin Chiu, The Housing Predictor: Real Estate News and Forecasts in the Public Interests. Gulf Coast Homes to Fall 30% from BP Oil Leak. June 25, 2011. http://www.housingpredictor.com/gulf-coast-homes.html
(19) The Telegraph. BP's Gulf of Mexico oil victim fund closes some offices as it pays out just a fifth of its $20bn total. Richard Blackden & Rowena Mason. May 29, 2011. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/8543957/BPs-Gulf-of-Mexico-oil-victim-fund-closes-some-offices-as-it-pays-out-just-a-fifth-of-its-20bn-total.html
(20) Man on Knees Begs Feinberg for Help. WWLTV News, New Orleans, LA. http://www.wwltv.com/news/Man-On-Knees-Begs-Ken-Feinberg-For-Help-113304209.html
(21) John Byrne, Raw Story, June 2, 2010. Goldman Sachs sold $250 million of BP stock before spill, http://www.infowars.com/raw-story-goldman-sachs-sold-250-million-of-bp-stock-before-spill/
(22) Jon Swaine & Robert Winnett, The Telegraph, June 5, 2010. BP chief Tony Hayward sold shares weeks before oil spill, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/7804922/BP-chief-Tony-Hayward-sold-shares-weeks-before-oil-spill.html
(23) Danny Fortson. The SundayTimes. May 9, 2010. Rig firm’s $270m profit from deadly spill. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/natural_resources/article7120655.ece
(24) BBC News. Halliburton profits up despite oil spill, July 19, 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10688301(25) BP’s Youtube Channel. BP’s Community Outreach Coordinator-Terrbonne Parish, LA, Octoboer 18, 2010. http://www.youtube.com/bp#p/u/40/G7X_YBbC1s0 (26) Michael Snyder. Business Insider. Warning To Gulf Volunteers: Almost Every Cleanup Worker From The 1989 Exxon Valdez Disaster Is Now Dead. June 30, 2010.