Yesterday, after whining about law schools on NPR, I motored over to the Fox headquarters on Sixth Avenue. They wanted me on to to talk about a post I did a couple of weeks ago, encouraging oil-spill victims to take their BP money from the $20 billion fund being administered by Ken Feinberg, instead of pursuing private lawsuits against BP. For the debate, they brought on a plaintiff’s lawyer.
I thought it was a good segment, and I do believe the BP fund will be better for the victims (and the justice system) than a slew of plaintiff’s lawyers jumping on BP — and taking a sizable cut out of whatever damages a judge (most likely) reduces.
But a commenter noted something that a few people have told me privately:
Ellie [sic], I think you are on the brink of finally embracing the fallacy of prudential regulation and the idea that government or semi-government programs are ever going to be able to take care of someone who refuses to take the most basic steps of self-preservation. I saw you on Fox News and I bet you vote Republican this November.
I don’t think I was accessing my inner elephant. But check out the clip and tell me what you think…
Here’s the segment I was a part of:
It didn’t seem like a Democrat / Republican thing; it seemed like an interesting debate about how we define fairness and whether or not the tort law system is equipped to handle these kinds of cases.
But, if we simply must divide ourselves along red and blue lines, it seems to me that I was supporting a large fund administered by a quasi-governmental official we’re calling a Czar! I supported Czar Feinberg’s intelligent hand over the machinations of private individuals acting in their own perceived best interests, trying to get as much money as humanly possible. Granted, I don’t have my little red book here in the office, but I’m pretty sure I’m within its bounds.
No, I think the real issue here is that I went up against the plaintiff’s bar, which liberals aren’t supposed to do, I guess. I don’t know why that’s a taboo: if you can look at the tort system in America and think “this is awesome, fair, just, and simple,” you are smoking one of the few substances that should probably stay illegal.
I don’t hate tort lawyers as some people do. We need them, and we need to them to keep corporations honest when nobody else is looking. But with BP, everybody is looking. This is a massive disaster affecting millions. This isn’t the time for a few hundred tort lawyers to make their fortunes. This is the time to get money quickly and efficiently to victims so they can start to rebuild their lives. The BP fund can make that happen better than the court system.
It’s not a question of liberal or conservative; it’s a question of scale.
Oil Funds vs. BP Lawsuits [Fox Business News]