Friday, January 07, 2005

Another Case for Tort Reform

The great thing about the TV is that when something on the screen offends, annoys, or just plain sucks, you can either change the channel or turn the blasted thing off.

If you are especially put off by the program, you can write the network and express your displeasure.

Unfortunately, you can also sue the network and the producer of the show. This is what one Austin Aitkin of Cleveland is doing in response to an episode of Fear Factor. Apparently, the contestants on the show were expected to consume a drink of rat juice from the blender. Per the AP:
Aitken, 49, said he wants to send a message to NBC and other networks with the lawsuit. He said he isn't concerned with winning a cash judgment in court.

"I just put any figure. You really think I expect to get 2.5 million?" he said.

Actually, my bet is not so much with expecting to get that money, but with hoping to get it.

I'd like to send a message to those who would place frivolous lawsuits on the docket: knock it off. The kind of reform that is needed would cause for litigants to pay a large docket fee, say $10,000 in cash, that would be returned to them with interest by the defendant in the event the plaintiff won the case. This large docket fee would require the would-be litigant to think twice before filing, considering whether or not the case had real merit.
Aitken's handwritten lawsuit contends the rat-eating made his blood
pressure rise, making him dizzy and lightheaded.

"I didn't see the doorway on route to my room," his lawsuit reads.
"I ran into it causing suffering, injury and great pain."

This is why I say the suit is unfortunate. People experience real pain that is caused by others. These victims should be able to sue those who brought them real pain. Didn't see the doorway? This makes one a moron, not a victim.
Asked why he didn't shut off his television before the rat-eating
segment, Aitken said he couldn't do it quick enough.

NBC responded with a brief statement: "We believe that the claim is
completely without merit."

Amen, NBC. Let's hope that the judge who gets this case dismisses it summarily. Another way to reform the system is for judges to find those who bring frivolous lawsuits in contempt and to fine them. Either way works for me.
Tiring of the Contest

The relief coming from all corners of the globe to help rebuild areas affected by the tsunami has been a source of mixed emotions for me. I am heartened by the support shown globally, by individuals and by governments. Politically, I'd rather not see governments use tax dollars this way, but we are in the system we're in, and if tax dollars are going to be spent to help people, this is one such use that it is hard to be cynical over.

Or you would think. There has been incredible cynicism shown in comments issued by those on the left and the right, questioning many donations as 'stingy'.

I think the phrase any observer should utter when considering anyone else's donation is "thank you".

Instead of "thank you", there have been insults hurled in all directions.

The left had heaped scorn on the US for its initial relief donation as too small and stingy. Increased to a significant level, the American relief is now scorned as embarassing because it is smaller than Australia's. The right has heaped scorn on Muslim nations for donations they believe to be too small and stingy, and on Hollywood types who have not given anything.

Enough. Stop the judgments. Nobody had to give anything. If you really believe in humanitarian aid, begin to take stock in the fact that there were no obligations, and yet, for the benefit of humanity, a great deal of wealth was given.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Thumbs Up To Pence

I love giving credit where credit is due. Today, Mike Pence (R-IN) gets heaps of praise from this Libertarian for wanting to scale back some of President Bush's initiatives. It's as if I had written them. From a CNN story:

  • Change the prescription drug benefit passed recently by Congress from a "one-size-fits-all entitlement" to a benefit for those who need federal help to buy prescription drugs.
  • "Reverse the expanding federal role in primary and secondary education, which conservatives believe is a state and local function."
  • Begin to steer back to the goal of a balanced budget.
  • Restore the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech by pursuing changes in new campaign finance laws.

His words are as if they were mine:

"The fate of the Republican majority ... will be largely determined by whether or not we rediscover those principles of limited government that more than anything else propelled us to majority status," said Pence, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 100 conservative House members.

Thumbs up, Mike Pence!
Fading From The Radar

Normally, I view it as a bad thing when a Libertarian who introduced a policy matter or a legal challenge fades from view or has the limeline taken from them.

Today I cheer it, as presidential candidate Michael Badnarik's ill-advised challenge to the Ohio results has finally been taken over by the Democrats. AP story.

It had looked all along as though Badnarik was carrying water for the Democrats, with no discernable payoff in sight. So, why bother? If it was the matter of principle Badnarik was claiming it was, shouldn't the Democrats, the ostensibly disenfranchised, make their own case? They have the resources, and they should at the very least demonstrate the interest.

Now they are, and it will look foolish. Ah, well, better that the Democrats should look foolish for protecting their own interests rather than the Libertarians playing the fool for fighting on behalf of the Democrats.

On to more important things.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Quoth Twain

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. -- Mark Twain (1866)

Well, the Indiana Legislature is in session, and my interest is in the property of all Hoosiers. In particular, I am interested in the preservation of the wealth of each individual.

Best case scenario: A balanced budget is adopted, and spending is cut by at least 10%.
Worst case scenario: This could be endless, but I'll keep it simple. A budget that increases the budget. Worse, a balanced budget that features higher taxes. Any higher spending levels.

Interested parties can keep an eye- or ear- on the proceedings. One excellent use of the State's website is to make a streamed signal available. Sadly, streamed audio is blocked by most employers, and this is one broadcast worth hearing.

Again, my hopes are for a balanced budget, and a 10% cut in spending. I don't think that's too much to ask of a state government dominated in all branches by Republicans, who at least used to be fiscal conservatives.

Great quotes on liberty are compiled on the Fort Liberty webpage.