December 18, 2011

Trial Bah! Humbug!


I think most people have at least a vague awareness that the trial bar makes us all poorer. One study estimated that the nation's legal system imposes an annual "tort tax" of more than $9,800 per family -- raising the cost of countless goods and services (most notably health care) and whacking the bejeebers out of our retirement accounts.

But I've had occasion this Christmas season to notice how lawsuit abuse makes our lives poorer in other, nonquantifiable ways. A couple of weeks ago when we bought our Christmas tree, the store employee helped me hoist it atop our SUV, and even gave me some twine. But, somewhat apologetically, he said he couldn't help me tie it. Lawyers, you understand.

Then today in Tulsa we watched Mary Margaret perform in Tulsa Ballet's "The Nutcracker." The performance was at 2:00 PM, and it's a good thing we didn't get there at 2:01 or the usher wouldn't have let us in. Not because it distracts the dancers, but because too many plaintiffs have slipped and fallen (or claimed to) when making their way to their seats.

These two inconveniences aren't the end of the world, of course. They're just small reminders of the corrosive effects of an out-of-control legal system which is "carving a rift in the moral terrain of the American culture."

Just as John Denver would be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly, lawsuit abuse makes all of our lives poorer. Noneconomic damages, you might say.

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