This post contains my patented Tort Reform Quiz For Dummies. At last you can find out if you support tort reform or not! You’ll find the short quiz after the introductory crap. Wade on!
The punch landed bone-jarringly hard and the boxer in the red trunks suddenly ate canvas, a little puddle of drool forming quickly under his bloodied face. The referee counted it down then, with so sign of movement, called the fight. It was a knockout!
The blue corner jumped up and down ecstatically. “Way to go, champ! Way to go!”
The red corner carried their fighter back to their corner, balanced his lifeless body on his stool, and also began jumping up and down. “Wow, what a fight! You took ’em to the cleaners, champ! You really flayed ’em!”
Erm, what? Meanwhile the monkeys are flying in from the East chanting, “Oh wee oh! Oh wee oh!”
Such is the way of politics these days. Is my example a little extreme? Perhaps, but sadly not by much.
Sometimes I opt to be deliberately cryptic. That’s my right as the only reader of ye olde blog. But here’s a hint: Sarah Palin recently dropped the phrase “tort reform” during an interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC Today Show.
Sarah Palin? Maybe we should call it tart reform. I keed, I keed! I’ll be serious from here on.
Matt wisely asked: “… [W]here’s the [healthcare] plan from the Tea Party?”
Sarah Palin responded (my emphasis added):
The plan is to allow those things that had been proposed over many years to reform a health care system in America that certainly does need more help so that there’s more competition, there’s less tort reform threat, there’s less trajectory of the cost increases? And those plans have been proposed over and over again. And what thwarts those plans? It’s the far left. It’s President Obama and his supporters who will not allow the Republicans to usher in free market, patient-centered, doctor-patient relationship links to reform health care!
Source: FOX News
See? Palin wants “less tort reform threat.” Whatever the hell that means. I think you’ll agree she brings a refreshing breadth of freth aire and clarity to the national stage.
That’s where I come in. It’s time to muddy things up!
What is tort? In spit of what a google image search suggests, it is not a delicious cake. That would be torte. It’s almost like the Silent E makes a difference.
Long story short, a “tort” is damage caused by one party on another that creates a civil liability. In our society, we adhere to the concept of full restoration when we have been harmed by another. This is known in Latin as restitutio in integrum (restoration to original state).
Wikipedia puts it like this:
In other words, the idea underpinning the law of tort is that if someone harms someone else, they should make up for it.
Source: Wikipedia – Tort reform
And now on to my patented quiz.
The Shouts From The Abyss Tort Reform Quiz For Dummies
Q. Your car is legally parked on the side of the road in marked space. Someone comes along in their car and tries to occupy the same physical space with their vehicle. This is known as a traffic accident. Our system generally attempts to determine fault in cases like this, basically in order to decide who is financially responsible. We have here a bona fide tort. Oh, goodie!
A. The cost to fix your car (a.k.a. the “damages”) is $10,000. Here comes the audience participation part of this quiz for simpletons. What do you think should happen now?
A) The other driver should pay $10,000
B) The other driver should pay $5
C) The other driver should pay nothing
Scoring the results
If you selected A: congratulations, you are against tort reform. Surprised?
If you selected B: you are in favor of tort reform. You get to pay the remaining $9,995 out of your own pocket. I guess congratulations are still appropriate.
If you selected C: you are too stupid for this test, even for dummies. Go do something productive like eat some soap.
Do you accept the argument that damages should be limited to $5 based on the fact that being held fully accountable would result in the other driver’s insurance rates going up? That’s basically, in a nutshell, the argument for tort reform.
To make this extra interesting, let’s incorporate the concept of Citizens United. As we all know, this was a Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the same rights as a person. How might this apply to tort reform?
Take the same scenario. If the driver was a person, they are responsible for $10,000. That’s the amount of the damages in full. Most of us accept this as the way the world should work.
What if the driver was a corporation, though? Oops. Due to the many complicated rules of tort reform, the most they can be held accountable is $5. That’s because there’s a cap on damages.
Sorry for wrecking your ride, old chap. Here’s a five spot. Enjoy a pint on us.
Two sets of standards. That’s one for real people, like you and me, and an almost non-existent one for corporations. Oh yeah, that sounds fair. And I thought they wanted to be people? I guess only sometimes when it suits their mood.
Lastly, if you still think you favor tort reform, think about it like this. A lot of folks favor the concept of a free market. That is basically the theory that things will unfold as they should because behavior is incentivized in each person’s own self-interest. And we all believe that incentive is critical to our way of life, right? We all know what happened when those goddamned communists tried a system without incentives, right? Buckets ‘o fail.
The problem, though, is that by capping damages, we’ve actually removed incentive to try to maintain some minimum standards of personal responsibility. With no penalties for bad behavior there is absolutely no reason to improve bad behavior. Actually, I’d accept such as thing as being more descriptive of anarchy than free markets. Hell, next thing you know, we’ll have corporations running around all willy nilly acting like Miley Cyrus with their tongues and Justin Beiber spray painting walls and taking bikes. Trust me, nobody wants to see that.
Tort reform is one of those things no one gives a shit about until it happens to them. Then it’s, “Whaa, whaa, whaa! Dial me up a whambulance! This isn’t fair!!!”
Meanwhile, some in our system of government, like Sarah Palin, are more interested in licking the sweaty palms of their wealthy friends rather than standing up for what’s right. We’re the party of personal responsibility except when it comes to our rich friends paying for their own fuckups. As her comment the other day shows, not only does she want Obamacare ended and replaced with something practically indecipherable (her words), she wants the rich being held less responsible for their actions. Tort reform is still very much on her mind. Or she could just be repeated phrases she’s heard. I’m not sure.
Either way, letting people get away without responsibility for their mistakes just don’t make sense. It clearly goes against what we though were our overt core beliefs, doesn’t it?
I never thought I’d say this but some Republicans are so far to the right they’ve lost sight of the fact they’ve driven completely off the road and are careening down the cliff of lunacy. Even sadder…they’ll never admit they’ve lost control of the car.
It’s the total abdication of the philosophy of personal responsibility for one’s own actions that I find so fascinating here. It’s like money trumps the lip service paid to actual values.
If you want to find out more – a lot more – about this, I urge you to stream the movie “Hot Coffee” currently available on Netflix right now. One of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen.
Saw a great bumper sticker the other day: “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.”
So brilliant! Thanks for sharing that! 🙂
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