You want to talk outrage? How about this one: My brother Jack showed me a letter he received from Halliburton via his lawyer. Yes- that Halliburton. It appears that Halliburton has declared bankruptcy. And because they have declared bankruptcy, they will only be required to pay out pennies on the dollar in the settlement of my brother’s suit.
Two years ago my brother was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and deadly kind of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. By the 1940’s the asbestos industry was well aware of the health hazards but the use of asbestos was not discontinued until the mid-70’s. My brother worked in maintenance in power plants and was exposed to asbestos for close to two decades. It is common that mesothelioma isn’t diagnosed until twenty or thirty years after the exposure.
The industry had to set aside a pool of compensation money for those workers diagnosed with asbestos related diseases. In the 1980’s, Halliburton bought one of those companies which was required to provide compensation. According to the letter I saw, Halliburton has declared bankruptcy- in that particular division.
We the citizens continue to shovel money at Halliburton- they are involved in the Gulf clean up- and a day doesn’t dawn in Iraq without the flow of our tax dollars into Halliburton’s coffers. I can’t quite wrap my head around the words “bankruptcy” and “Halliburton” in the same sentence.
Halliburton appears to be well compensated for its efforts, my brother not so much for his. Jack is probably looking at another three to nine months on the planet. It is unlikely that he will live long enough to see the individual compensation checks that represent the settlements from each of the companies involved.
I feel certain that Halliburton is looking well into the future, already aware of the possibilities, poised to act. When Jack, or perhaps my sister-in-law, receives the few thousand dollars from Halliburton, I wonder what they will be thinking about the future, the possibilities.