*Sigh* When Is His Term Over?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:56 am

Caught this article on Fark today. Seems the government is preventing US soldiers tortured by Saddam Hussein’s forces in the previous Gulf War from collecting a $1 billion judgement handed to them by US District Court in 2003. Scott McClellan told reporters that the money (to be taken from $1.7 billion in Iraqi assets frozen in US banks) is needed to help rebuild Iraq….should have thought of that before you blew it apart, dude.

Keep this in mind when you consider letting these bozos draft tort reform legislation.

4 Responses to “*Sigh* When Is His Term Over?”

  1. gavin Says:

    Your note does make me wonder, when did americans start thinking that money cures past injustice? Or that somehow being mistreated entitles one to payment. I don’t see Germany ponying up any money for the Holocaust. But we’ve seen cries for payoffs for slavery, the obliteration of the native americans, the nuking of Japan, and even molestation ala priests and Michael Jackson. How does money make any of these things better? Or is this just what happens to a country with a guilty conscience, too much money, and too many lawyers?

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Funny you should mention that, because I’ve given this question some thought.

    I assume that you are not talking about compensation for actual loss, such as loss of mobility, medical expenses, unemployability, etc. That leaves punitive damages and awards for pain and suffering.

    Money is, to my mind, the only neutral unit of exchange by which these matters can be settled in our society. The other main avenue of recompense is largely closed to us, namely, an eye for an eye. It might be better in some cases for those who have been wronged to be able to wrong the wrongers: inject formaldehyde into the spines of errant anesthesiologists, arrange for rapists to be brutalized against their will, crush the children of faulty tire manufacturers in rolling metal coffins, or to be left alone in a windowless concrete room with the henchmen who tortured them, hog-tied and awaiting their pleasure. I’m not being facetious here; these judgements might actually help more than large sums of cash. But since we as a society have decided to turn away from this sort of extreme justice, some form of compensation needs to take its place. So, money it is. It may not be the same as being made whole again, but it’s as close as a secular society is likely to get.

    For the record, an international fund was set up in 1997 to compensate Holocaust survivors. Contributions will come from nearly 40 countries, supplied by governments (including $25 million from the United States, based on estimates of hoarded funds secreted in US banks), banks, insurance companies (for unpaid or criminally-managed policies) and anyone else who directly profited from the vicitms of the Nazis. The German government and state-owned companies have contributed over 400 million dollars to this fund. This fund isn’t apology money, but a careful assessment of the current net value of valuable property stolen from the victims of the Holocaust. The estimated worth is in the billions.

  3. gavin Says:

    Here’s a fine example. How does having an arrogant bastard for a neighbor entitle you to $38 million? Because your lawyer says he can get it for you, (and needs to put his kids through college).

  4. Uncle Andrew Says:

    I have my blog set to mod comments with even a single hyperlink in them, so I had to approve your comment. I’ll go take a look at your link….

    Okay, having taken a look at it: yes, that guy’s an asshole. Please note, however, that he has not won a lawsuit for $38 million, he has filed one. I could go file a $38 million lawsuit against my neighbor for leaving trash in her yard, doesn’t mean I’m going to win. There are always going to be specious lawsuits, just as long as there are jerks to file them. But most tort reform legislation makes no distinction between me and my garbage-slinging neighbor and, oh, say, a migrant worker at a ConAgra plant losing all motor function in one arm in a boning knife accident because the company’s average throughput on carcasses is 450 per hour—over three times the average in the EU—and the worker was encouraged in the strongest possible terms to avoid expensive medical care. Just for instance. 😉

    There is probably no practical way to accurately and dispassionately distinguish between the frivolous lawsuits and the genuine ones before the case goes to trial, or at least is introduced before a judge. Until someone comes up with such a system, I am tempted to side with more freedom to sue rather than less.

    One of the better potential options I have seen out there is a sliding-scale cap on attourney’s fees, rather than on judgements. I still don’t like Bush’s version, but the idea of tying the fee to the amount of work put into the case rather than the amount of the settlement makes sense to me, so long as the hourly compensation for the lawyer is still commensurate to the normal wages of same.

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