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Why filing a BP claim is virtuous
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Why filing a BP claim is virtuous

American virtues can only be accomplished by laying down - and following - laws to achieve our heights together. That is why Thomas Jefferson thought that the highest virtues were often civic virtues; taking turns to contribute to your society by participating in government - in other words, ruling and being ruled in turn.

It is in civic virtue that we recognize that part of what we do by law is set aside our unbridled individual, or corporate, interest. It is the sacrifice we gladly bare when we support taxes for our public schools and playgrounds though we have no children and when we give of our time for jury duty.

We collectively guard our capacities by recognizing that one cannot flourish as fully if random disease, or oil accident, can strike you down or leave you destitute. And it is the civic virtue that we most celebrate on the Fourth of July when we recognized those who risk and sacrifice so much for our common liberty. It is the basic realization that rolling up your sleeves and being a part of your community, rather than grasping at a fuzzy picture of a cowboy alone on a plain, is the true display of virtue.

For the last three years, BP has repeated over and over that it would be virtuous or "make it right," by fully paying for all damage done by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. BP's recent actions make it clear that this was a hollow promise. In fact, BP has recently taken out full-page ads in newspapers trying to intimidate people into not filing claims for their losses. One newspaper headline described this public relations stunt appropriately: "BP takes fight to claimants."

Is being virtuous trying to back out of the deal BP made after 15 months of settlement talks, including 145 days of direct negotiations and a sign off by a federal judge in New Orleans?

BP set up the eligibility requirements that determine who can receive funds from the settlement program. Most importantly, BP decided that the settlement would be uncapped - meaning that BP would have to pay for all losses.

Even though it had the best lawyers and accountants in the world - on two continents - BP now has buyer's remorse and wants out. Thankfully, BP's arguments to the court have been rejected, and BP will be held to its word. BP will be forced to "make it right."

Simply put, BP will be forced to act virtuously and pay for all the economic harm.

The overall damage to the entire economy in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and western Florida from the oil spill is still being felt. The best public relations action BP could take now would be to stop paying for ads in The New York Times and spend that money to help people and businesses fully recover.

Since direct and indirect damages are covered by the economic settlement: most businesses or nonprofits can act virtuous by filing a responsible claim for economic injury.

Article by Gabriel Selig 

Gabriel M. Selig works for, a Web site devoted to assisting businesses in filing BP oil spill claims.

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