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A sympathetic lot, as spectators we casually figure big numbers like $50 million or $100 million in damage are fair compensation for whatever turmoil they’re meant to cure. Still we never stop to think exactly where this money comes from — how the expense of putting a family on easy street is exacted not just from the defendant and their insurance company, but the rest of us.br> America’s trial lawyers recognize this, which may be why they’ve been busy polishing their image. Recently, for example, the American Trial Lawyers Association voted to change its name to the American Association for Justice (the Washington Post sarcastically noted that the runner-up choice was “Association for Apple Pie, Motherhood, and the American Way”).
Higher prices, lost jobs, fewer life-saving drugs, and in this case, a disappearing hospital — these aren’t hidden costs. They’re as real as the impact they have on our lives — and on our pocketbooks. Killing Putnam General won’t make the world more just or medical care more consistent. But it will make life in Putnam County less safe and a handful of people — of lawyers — fabulously wealthy.
The Shakespeare question notwithstanding, what’s in a name does matter. Across America, trial lawyers have wreaked havoc on state and local economies. Take California, for example. Trial lawyers there have launched securities class-action lawsuits against Silicon Valley, have discouraged job-growth by threatening employment lawsuits, and have suppressed the state’s housing sector with frivolous construction-defect lawsuits. Perhaps California, with its world-class economy, can afford the hassle. Try telling that to West Virginia, which was just ranked 49th by Forbes.com among “best states for business.”
America’s legal system, used properly, can produce marvelous results. But when used improperly by those more interested in cash equities than social inequities, it becomes an impediment to real progress. Look no further than Putnam County, who may one day be looking at a life without local doctors or local emergency care.
Such is the future of America if, left unchecked, “jackpot”-driven trial lawyers are free to treat hospitals as their latest slot machine.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?