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Should American Officials Be Able To Sieze The Assets Of Foreign Companies Like BP When They Do Harm To Americans?: Left of Center View

The easiest way to explore any moral dilemma is to simply reverse the participants. Instead of asking: ďShould American Officials Be Able To Seize The Assets Of Foreign Companies Like BP When They Do Harm To Americans?Ē Think about the question in the reverse, should we ask Americans be ok with foreign countries seizing the assets of American corporations when they do harm to other nations? Obviously not; there would hardly be any American corporations left. Heck, American officials donít often seize domestic companies assets when they do harm right here in America.

Setting such a precedent would be devastating to American corporations as well as to her economy. What if Iraq were to decide the Halliburton, Chevron and Bechtel were to blame for their current crimes against the Iraqi people and should be held responsible. OK, what if they didnít just accuse but actually had the power to do something about it. This is a extremely sticky slope once you start down it. Americanís may have freedom of religion, but this is not the case in many parts of the world. Islamic fundamentalists cry out that our allowing women to appear on the streets baring their check bones is harming their traditional values and undermining their control over their youth. Could they not also hold us responsible? Wait, they already do.

But the problem isnít just in the judging. It is almost impossible to agree who is at fault for everything that happens. Sure BP is largely to blame for this particular mess, but there were plenty of others, including government agencies, who dropped the ball on this one. The problem in cases like this is that in addition to who is really at fault, we also have to identify who had the funds to get us out of this mess. Lawsuits are often levied against those with the deepest pockets, not just those with the most responsibility for the injustice. Granted they are often one and same, but not always. It should never be possible to profit from natural disaster, famine or war.

So while we shouldnít be allowed to seize the assets of foreign corporations, they also shouldnít be allowed to get away with ruining the environment and livelihood of millions of Americans. There are things we can do short of seizing their assets to ensure that they assist in the cleanup and shoulder much of the burden. While we do not have the right to take away their toys, we can stop them from playing with them in our house until they have cleaned up the mess they made during their last visit. Want BP to clean up their oil spill? Donít allow them to drill until the current well is capped. Donít allow them to sell anymore product on our shores until they have cleaned them up. You might not make a huge profit, but you also might just accomplish what you had set out to do.


Kyle Pesonen - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this column. | Click icon to Digg this article

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Should American Officials Be Able To Sieze The Assets Of Foreign Companies Like BP When They Do Harm To Americans?: Right of Center View

Big government loves to assert its power over citizens. This question is really about whether America should be a free country or not. If you love government poking its nose into every part of your life then you should support government growing as much as it wants with no limits to what it can do. If you like living in a free country you should probably question the wisdom of giving politicians the power to hold the nation hostage to further their agendas. Make no mistake, if we allow government to start grabbing peopleís money whenever they feel like it we will not be free for long.

The question as posed seems fairly straightforward but itís really not so much so. First you have to ask yourself how one defines harm. Then you have to ask what amount of money should be used to right the wrong of the harm that was done. Itís kind of arbitrary when you stop and think about it. Who can put a dollar amount on a lost livelihood or pain and suffering? Whatís to say that even if the thing that the company did that caused someone harm hadnít happened something else worse wouldnít have happened? How do you know that the bus that takes away a manís legs might not actually save his life because it prevents him from going on a trip where the plane crashes in a freak storm killing all aboard? The truth is you donít know because nobody can know what the future holds.

On the surface the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may seem like a complete disaster at the moment. Whatís to say it doesnít change the entire corporate philosophy and focus of BP and if left to their own devices they might not develop a new fuel that eliminates the need for gasoline and saves the environment by putting out zero emissions? We donít know what will happen. We do know that if all of their money is tied up in government hands and they are prevented from getting back to work they wonít have anything to pay anyone who might have actually been harmed by the spill. They will go bankrupt and the people in the Gulf States will lose even more than they have already.

The founding fathers formed a government with limited power for a reason. They knew that none of them had the knowledge or the wisdom to micro-manage the lives of the people in the country. They knew that if left mostly to their own devices the people would tend to their own needs and work, for the most part, in the best interests of everyone. Defend the nation, promote commerce and pass laws that protect the rights and freedoms of our citizens. That is the job of Congress and the White House. Whenever politicians seek to move beyond the basic purpose for which they serve it should be cause for alarm.

The Realist - Patriot at Large | E-mail Comments on this column. | Click icon to Digg this article

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