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Because I have to entertain [livejournal.com profile] emmy_roo when she's sleep deprived.

How many of you remember the McDonald's coffee case? Raise your hands high! You, there, tell me about it.

"She was driving with the coffee between her legs, got a little burned, sued McDonald's and cashed in on the court system."

Um...no. Not hardly.

"But that's what the media reported!"

Well, boys and girls, let's start over. We'll tackle Big Business' ownership and manipulation of the media another day, but let's focus on Stella right now, okay? First I want you to read this link silently. http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm Please close your laptops when you're done.

******************

All done? Okay, what were some of the differences in the story you remember and the story you just read? She wasn't driving, the car was parked, she received third degree burns and required skin grafts, she was found 20% responsible for her injuries because she put the coffee between her legs, and the jury awarded her the punitive damages because McDonald's had been serving napalm in a cup in order to save a buck and tried to hush it up for a few years. As I said, Big Business and Media Ownership Conflict another day. For now, let's look at what the Republicans did with this.

"They followed the will of the voters and stamped out lawsuit lotteries!"

We covered astroturf yesterday, remember? GOP used this case and shill groups to introduce tort reform and damage caps. Apparently holding companies and doctors responsible for negligence was getting too expensive for the insurance industry.

"Because too many people were filing frivolous lawsuits!"

There were some, yes, but a few bad apples spoiled the bunch. Like how I can't give out anymore candy because Johnny stole my candy stash, ate himself into a sugar coma, and climbed the school flagpole when he came to.

"Thanks a lot, Johnny!"

Now, now, Johnny has paid dearly for his crime, and if he stays on his Ritalin for another month the candy will be back. But back to the good apples punished by the bad apples. Please read this link: http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/hot-coffee/synopsis.html starting at the baby picture. Feel free to read the whole thing on your own time but let's stay on the babies right now, okay? One baby came out brain damaged, and the parents sued the doctor and the practice. They won, but who is paying most of the bill?

"Medicaid."

Why?

"Because of award caps."

GOOD! I was afraid you weren't paying attention. Yes, because Nebraska capped the amount someone can receive in damages when they are harmed by negligence or malpractice. So the insurance company only had to pay $1.25 million and Medicaid is picking up the rest of the tab. Which means the taxpayers of the great state of Nebraska are paying for this child's care and not the doctors that harmed him.

"Didn't you say last week Nebraska was a cesspit that should be wiped off the map because it produced Larry the Cable Guy?"

I probably did. Johnny said that horrible catchphrase and I snapped. Nebraska doesn't need to be wiped off the map and almost all Nebraskans are wonderful people. Moving on to malpractice insurance premiums. Before they took the White House by storm and gutted the Bill of Rights, Karl Rove and George W. Bush played the Texas Governor's Mansion for saps.They convinced Texans that there would be no OB/GYNs to deliver babies in the state because none of them could afford their malpractice premiums if they didn't enact tort reforms. The astroturfs came, some of the strictest reforms and caps in the nation were passed (this was their first run at the Constitution so they stuck to trashing the Seventh Amendment which no one notices anyway), and now the OB/GYNs were safe from responsibility! Yay?

"So premiums went down, right?"

No.

"But they said if they passed the reforms premiums would go down."

Well, politicians say a lot of things. Even Democratic ones. The costs of insuring them went down, certainly, but the insurance companies left the premiums as they were and pocketed the difference.

"Isn't that stealing?"

W. made it legal. Oh, that's right, you were absent on President Palpatine day. See me after class.

"Are Republicans evil?"

Well...when you chuck the Tea Party and the leaders of the national and state parties, no. Most Republicans are decent people who see things differently. We need them to keep us from ceding so much power to the government our every move needs approval in triplicate. And they need us to keep them from extinction because they couldn't hold anyone accountable for their actions under the guise of free markets and personal responsibility. It's part of existing on this crazy planet called Earth. While it lasts, anyway.

"Are all corporations evil?"

Not necessarily, but they've gotten very good at dodging their part of the social contract. Things such as paying their share of taxes, paying employees fair wages and benefits, and evaluating their impact on the world around them. Too many of them spend most of their time paying politicians to write them new tax loopholes, searching for ways to keep their employees poor and on government aid while pocketing profits that could go to lifting their own employees out of poverty and off aid programs, or claiming nothing about the chemical plant that spews smoke 20 hours a day harms the environment. So I think the best solution is to remind corporate America and the Republicans screaming about bootstraps that both of them had a heavy hand in perpetuating the system and hold them accountable for it as they are so desperate to hold Democrats accountable for anything they can think of.

"So Democrats are the good guys?"

Not really. More like the lesser of two evils. And not really by much sometimes.

"I'm confused."

Aren't we all right now.
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