Various Republicans have characterized the recently announced 20 billion dollar deal between the government and BP as a “shakedown” for a slush fund, one that Obama doesn’t have constitutional authority to set up. From what I’ve read, it strikes me as a pretty straightforward deal, not wildly different than the way I used an escrow company as an independent party when selling testing.com. Or that unpleasant incident with my neighbor’s grill a few years back…
Me: You careless oaf! You burned up my lawn!
Him: I admit it. I take full responsibility. Sorry.
Me: You’re going to pay for this damage, you know. All of it.
Him: I will do that.
Me: I bet that big old maple that overhangs the house is going to have to come out. That’s going to cost you a bundle.
Him: Oh now, it doesn’t look that bad.
Me: I had a tree hit by lightning once. Didn’t look much worse than that, but carpenter ants got into it and the tree had to come out. The guys who took it out told me I should have done it right away, that the tree was worse off than it looked. I’m not waiting this time.
Him: Uh… Don’t know all that much about trees.
Me: Neither do I. Look. Let’s simplify this, keep at least some of it out of court. Let’s get someone with experience at judging these kinds of damages and have him decide, shrub by shrub, tree by tree, what you owe.
Him: Like the independent mediator written into lots of contracts.
Some time passes as we dicker over who we both trust.
Me: Now, I’m pretty sure this is going to cost you over $2000…
Him: Aw, that seems high…
Me: That maple is four stories tall!
Him: Hey, I still think it’ll be alright. But OK—so long as we get that mediator guy, the one I trust.
Me: And I want you to put the money in escrow.
Him: Aw, c’mon. You know I’m good for it.
Me: Yeah, well, my trust in you is not super-high right now.
Me: Look. Back out of the deal if you want. You’re going to pay one way or the other. You can do it quickly or drag it out. Your choice.
Him: OK, OK: it’s a deal.