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February 6, 2005 - Personal Injury as an Investment Strategy

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In the column this week on Social Security: February 6, 2005 - The Debate About Other Things, Really you will find this attempt to sum up current conservative thinking – what seem to be the core philosophy of government from that point of view -


It’s a matter of personal responsibility.  The role of the government is to encourage you to assume personal responsibility – and to assure your do.  Thus welfare programs and minimum wage laws - and your opportunity to sue for malpractice, or for damages from a faulty product or for fraud and so on, are all wrong – as they encourage people to either feel “entitled” or to feel they are victims. 


My friend the Wall Street Attorney commented –


… or for damages from a faulty product or for fraud?

Query:  Isn't buying a particular product an investment decision? Those buying faulty products then have standing to bring suit in tort with possible jury verdicts in the millions.  This would make the purchase of such products good investments as the return on said investments could be worth millions. Perhaps it is just a different sort of "market" in which the consumer invests.


Let me get this straight.  One buys a faulty product as an investment – and if injured by it, one sues, and perhaps wins, and thus realizes a fantastic return on one’s investment.  You have enhanced standing as an investor, with other rights.




But the idea is to remove this or any other such "standing" – an effort that the administration calls tort reform, and they want tort reform so bad they're peeing their pants.  In my friend’s formulation this is to say they also wish to outlaw this particular method of investing.  


Some forms of investing then, in their view, do much harm to the common good.  They harm the economy.  Thus capping, or even eliminating, awards for medical malpractice or product liability – and narrowing what can fall under class action suits – is a proper function of government, or so I understand the argument.  


They wish to protect us from the greedy few who want to wreck the general economy for their own, selfish personal gain.  The business of America is business?


The reply from Wall Street?


They wish to protect us from the greedy few who want to wreck the general economy for their own, selfish personal gain?

But doesn't this define those who wish to protect us?  Aren't they the greedy few who want to wreck the general economy for their own, selfish personal gain?  


He doesn’t believe that General Motors, Microsoft and Archers-Daniels-Midland, or Monsanto, are forces for the general good, selflessly helping us all lead better, fuller lives?  Perhaps he doesn’t see the advertisements – GM Hummers will help us get back in touch with nature at its wildest out in the middle of nowhere, and Microsoft software will help our children realize their wildest dreams of success – and of course, Archers-Daniels-Midland is “supermarket to the world.”  Monsanto with their genetically reengineered seed will end world hunger.  These are the good guys.  Who would want to harm them if something they make or something the do hurts one, unimportant individual? 


Geez.  My Wall Street friend must hate America.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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