ryan is the supernicety wrote:
How exactly are tort lawsuits impacting individual's freedom?
In general, situations where a company cannot allow me to do something that I want to do in the context of their services, or they cannot offer a product at all, because I cannot agree to take responsibility for myself.
For example, I cannot learn to scuba dive because I have athsma. Now, I understand my athsma very well and I am perfectly capable of dealing with an attack in such a scenario, but no one will teach me, because they fear liability.
Another example that occurs to me is Kinder Toys. An Italian candy available in 100 countries but not in the U.S. According to the linked article this is a regulatory issue rather then a product liability issue, but the lines are thin here. Even if these regulations were removed the toys in question would likely face civil liability problems.
The problem here is that this stuff operates on a lowest denominator principal in which everyone must be protected from anything that might defile the most hapless of citizens. Some of the things I'm protected from I don't really want or need to be protected from, and I don't have a choice. These aren't always caused specifically by civil liability. There are criminal laws that come into play as well, and its not always easy to tell the difference between something you can't do because of a law or something you can't do because of civil liability.
I do think that these things are visibile to regular people in their everyday lives, and thats why arguements about "tort reform" get traction with voters. There is a sense, when the local punk venue has to shut down for a month to make their bathrooms wheelchair accessible, when the local antique store has to put a big orange "watch your step" sign in the middle of their nice asthetic hallway, when you can't buy a beer after 11:30, and you can't practice golf in a public park, or buy a bicycle with the handlebars higher the the rider's head, that we might just be a little too coddled. Now only one thing I listed there is really related to civil liability. But this is why this kind of issue gets traction. People preceive that "lawyers" are responsible for all of this, one way or the other.
Sure, "lawyers" are involved because all of regulation involves the law. As you said, only one thing on your wohle list involved something that would be covered by so-called 'tort reform,' and I actually can't figure out which one that would be. But by lumping people's hatred of all things 'lawyery' into one thing, its total obfuscation and supports the point that its all just politics. And if its all just politics, then its money.
Saying that people support tort reform because "lawyers are responsible for all of this" is like hating bus drivers because your flight is always delayed...
Tort reform is an issue (non-issue?) that I am interested in politically. Large tort awards are extraordinarily rare and most punitive damages go to the state (hence why they are punitive). Punishing the lawyers who bring such suits is simply political payback.
And yes, while I agree that there is a symbiosis between the trial lawyers and dems (as you argued), the simple matter is that objectively, in this case, I happen to believe that the trial lawyers are right and thus, to fight against them (and, in fact support the rights of the corporation against the individual), the repubs are wrong, morally and factually, on this issue.
RE: The politics of taxation