Friday, October 15, 2010

Thriving in time of uncertainties: lessons for my children!

When considering what the future holds, one must believe in the capability of now. It is important to appreciate one's ability to adapt and the conviction in human spirit to triumph in the face of unbelievable trials. Charles Darwin once said, it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is the most adaptable to change. Our ability to adapt to ever-changing events of now and the near future prepares us to survive in the tough journey and terrain of life.

Our investments in the now, prepares us to face the uncertainties of the future. The hardest thing to deal with in life is not knowing what the future holds. However, not knowing occasionally makes us try harder to be prepared for the unknowns of the future. As frightening as not knowing what the future holds, one must always remain upbeat and optimistic. That is why investments in the now, is just as important as facing the uncertainties of the future. For the past two years, the trials of now have been unmaking, but our current ability to remain strong, has been the barometer for measuring our strength to manage the uncertainties of the future, no matter what anyone else may say or have told you. You must not allow little disagreements over minor issues of life to derail you from enjoying the challenges of now and the uncertainties of the future.

The downturn in America’s economy has broken many families, sent some to the mental homes, others to the streets, a few to their graves and many into an unusual state of anxiety. Many Americans who have ridden in the most beautiful cars, owned luxurious yachts, played golf on the best greens and dined at the  most expensive restaurants are finding that life is much like seasons: there is a time to sow and a time to reap; a time to cry and a time to laugh… A few poor Americans have done well for themselves, they have adapted and turned misery to triumph; they have held tight to their conviction in the ability of man to triumph in the face of unbelievable trials. Never allow the anticipation of the future to bug you down. Contrary to what the naysayers around you may want you to believe, you must believe in yourself and in your conviction that you can make it, even in time of strife, famine or war.

Given the belt tightening times we are in, it is time for you to examine yourselves. It is time to determine what stuff you are made of. It is time for you to value yourselves and develop your ability to manage the now; and, believing that you can survive the endless challenges that the future holds. Increasingly, you are finding that a few of our neighbor’s homes have been foreclosed. One or two family heads committed suicide. I want you to learn from these events, not as a cause to doubt your strength or faith but as examples of shifting tides in the affairs of men. Never allow a failure in life’s challenges to doom your future; after all, it is but just a journey, you must expect bumps on the road. Never succumb to the temptation of quitting, because you are not a quitter. Those people, who have chosen suicide as the way out, are a little bit more like quitters. That choice in life is not worth the trouble and must never be an option for you.

Self reassurance is often necessary in time of turbulence. As traveler on life’s journey, there are going to be times that you may loose your job or fail to measure up for promotion into a higher office, never let that becloud your efforts. Continue to strive hard for in human spirit is the core of a substance that only you can explore to reach higher heights. You must learn that there is cost in surviving, sacrifices to be made and failure to try is not an option. Fail you must occasionally, but never let that get in your way of winning at the next trial. Always remember that those who fail to try hardly experience the joy of trying, the agony of defeat or the human triumph of wining in the face of all odds.

Births and deaths are part of life. Never deny yourself the joy of bringing a life to this journey and refrain from criticizing those in the journey who could careless if they had an offspring. In the arduous journey of life, try and smell the roses, they just make the journey less stressful. Only a life lived for others, is worth the effort. There would be times to bury a friend, your neighbor, even your loved ones, never allow the experience to smoke the life out of you. Like joy, misery is part of living. I have often wondered why people die but I have chosen to identify with the words of Shakespeare: life is but a stage and we all are actors, there are entries and exits, either with great applause and not one can pre-determine both! If you have to deal with death of a loved one, do it with grace; after all, they would never want you to feel the pains and pangs of grief to the extent that you would not like to continue to battle life’s challenges. Like births, deaths are but also beautiful experiences.

Always remember the goal is to continually adapt to change. Set milestones for yourself and take actions to actualize your dreams. Never fail to dream for those who fail to dream find themselves challenged and overwhelmed by trivial things of life. When fortunes come your way, create time to enjoy them with humility. However, never acquire too much stuff than you need, for most of them will go to waste. Be frugal, giving often to people of lesser fortunes than yourself. Always encourage the weak, the frail and the heavily laden to do more, to challenge themselves more, for no one knows when fortune knocks at the door. I have heard it said somewhere, the difference between a millionaire and a pauper, is but a second. Know when the opportunities are calling and never fail to seize on them. If for any reason, an opportunity flies by you, it was never meant for you, so do not drool over it.

To the extent possible, pray often. I have found strength in prayers in the most troubling and turbulent of times in my journey. If possible, invite your household members to pray with you and if they choose not to, refrain from criticizing them, everyone in life later finds that there must be one messiah, call him Christ, Mohamed, Jehovah, Allah, Krishna, or what have you, that is greater than what anyone being can conceive or fathom. Most men go though the voyage of life as if it’s a parcel never to be opened until they are in a turbulent sea. Never get distressed when the winds of life is strong and hold strongly to your faith, for it is probably all you’ll have to fall on, when tempest or turbulence blows. Return Good for Evil and never wish anyone evil, it is just not worth your energy.

Finally, do unto others, as you wish them to do unto you. It is the golden rule. Now, to him that is ever able to do abundantly beyond anything you can imagine, be glory honor and majesty, Amen.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Is the Limitation Liability Act still Applicable in the year 2010?

The Limitation Liability Act was introduced in congress on March 3, 1851. There has been three amendments since then: 1) 1935 Amendment fixed the total liability of owner of a sea going vessel for loss of life and injuries at less than sixty dollars per ton of vessel operated by the owner, when in an accident; 2) 1936 Amendment generally provided that when owner’s limited liability insurance is insufficient to pay losses in full and the portion of applicable payment for loss of life or injury is less than sixty dollars per ton, such portion would be bumped up to sixty dollars, if either the master, superintendent, managing agent or the owner of the seagoing vessel has a privy knowledge of the cause of the accident or issues leading to the accident; 3) 1984 Amendment increased the monetary penalty to $420 per tons of the vessel operated by a managing agent, superintendent, master or owner. The outdated Act and amendments would not have been mentioned, except for the huge disaster at the Deepwater Horizon rig. The magnitude of the accident and the potential limitation of liability against British Petroleum make this subject an issue of concern.

British Petroleum is the owner of the rig that exploded and Transocean operated the rig. Based on the provisions of the Limited Liability Act, none of the dead eleven or the injured two, or any other persons that may have been directly or indirectly injured from the Deepwater Horizon rig accident can claim more than $420 per ton of the vessel. This realization must be shared with the public and the congress. The lesson that either of these group would learn, is that: Implementing the applicable limited liability provisions of this act is inadequate to meet current day inflation.

Further, we are at a cross road of having to revert to an act and over quarter century amendments that are hardly reasonable or applicable to the environment that we have now. When the Limited Liability Act was introduced, the growth and competition in the US commerce were not as huge and expansive. To administer the provisions of the act and its amendments to current day commerce and accidents, will only lead to a misunderstanding. To restrict the liability due to the affected parties from the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster would only lead to misconceptions and bad blood.

We all know that the Deepwater Horizon disaster affected many residents of the Gulf Coast. The provisions of the Limited Liability Act call that affected parties prove beyond reasonable doubt that damages they suffer, come from negligence of the owner of the vessel, rig or platform. That means, the dead employees, the injured workers, the hotels, tourists managers, the local governments and any other parties in that area have to pass the litmus test that they have suffered tremendously and their suffering can only be adduced to the fault of British Petroleum, Transocean and probably, Halliburton. Common sense however indicate that restricting compensation to the limitations of the provisions of the Limited Liability Act, would only mean rubbing salt into the wounds of those people.

To maintain critical relationship between residents of the Gulf Coast and the owner or operator of the vessel, rig or platform at the Deepwater Horizon, it is better to look for other formulas for assessing fault or for making restitution to those affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Astute operators and vessel owners know that when actions are based on criteria that are hardly applicable to modern day events or environment, or when affected parties are ignored for any reasons, we end up weakening the relationships between organizations and the public.

Further, when affected parties believe that they are being given a rough shoulder or treated with impunity, they are more likely to resort to other behaviors that may further disconnect the people from the organization. In order words, if BP had relied solely on the provisions of the Limitation of Shipowner’s Liability Act to address the concerns of those in the Gulf Coast with respect to what happened at the Deepwater Horizon zone, it would have had to deal with more irate people. For those who questioned Obama’s wisdom to negotiate with British Petroleum regarding compensation due the affected parties from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it may be better for them to think again. Do they believe that the provisions of the Limitation of Shipowners’ Liability Act are adequate for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico?

Evidence garnered by congressional investigative panel, the National Incident Center and hopefully, by lawyers who will be bringing up class action suits against British Petroleum and its cohorts would provide enough information to blow out the cap. The feelings, emotions and attitude of the people who feel they have been greatly impacted by the accident look unquantifiable; however, when it comes to settlements, the attorneys or arbitrators would have to find a way to quantify these variables. While most civil attorneys would be looking for a way to get a pound of blood for a pound of flesh from this accident, they may have to resort to facilitating the cases with what the law says or provides for. Unlike the provisions of the Shipowners’ Liability Act, the attorneys would be looking to the provisions of other civil laws to gain maximum compensation for their clients.

The primary role of the civil attorneys would be to make the most significant difference in the litigation. However, the limitations of the Shipowner’s Liability Act are like an albatross to the civil attorneys. The attorneys would be seeking ways to rope BP and its contractors to attain maximum compensations for their clients. Whether this will work or not, is better left for time to tell. It is the position of this blog that for us to have a fair and equitable compensation for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, there is going to be a need to revisit the Limited Liability Act. What happens during the adjudication of the cases against BP would justify this argument. The experience with the adjudication of the cases against BP may have the added advantage of serving as a pointer to how to better bring the provisions of the Act to the year 2010.