Friday, February 04, 2005

Not pissed on, pissed off

I didn't listen to Bush's State of the Union Address the other night. It was a case of Schwartz the mohel. (A mohel ["moil"] is a Jew ordained and certified to perform ritual circumcisions.) Two men are standing next to each other at the public urinals. One looks over at the other and says casually, "Was Schwartz your mohel?" "Yeah," was the reply. "How did you know?" "Because Schwartz always cut on the bias and you're peeing on my foot."

Somehow whenever Bush uses Congress's facilities, I feel like I'm being pissed on. Probably the nation's asbestos victims thought there was a helluva splatter factor, too, when they heard him say,
To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs.

Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities.

So we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job creators from junk lawsuits.


Justice is distorted and our economy is held back by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims.
No one knows how many asbestos claims are truly "frivolous" (as opposed to all the genuinely important business cases that make up 90% of the civil litigation in this country). But the last time (1979) anyone tried to estimate the percent of actual lost wages and household services recovered by asbestos victims (not including cost of medical care or pain and suffering) who died and sued for an asbestos-related claim, it was about 80%. So of the special set of claimants who died of their disease they weren't even getting compensated for their out of pocket non-medical expenses. Forget pain and suffering (which Bush seems happy to do).

Since then, a minimum of 43,000 more people have died of asbestos-related disease. Those are just the ones that have asbestosis or mesothelioma on their death certificates. The estimate of how many have really died from asbestos exposure at the hands of employers and/or manufacturers who knew of the hazards and didn't tell them, is around 230,000 since 1979. If you ever have seen someone who is a "pulmonary cripple" from asbestos exposure, who can't even get out of bed to go to the bathroom they are so short of breath, or who dies an extremely painful death from mesothelioma, you will never couple the word "frivolous" with asbestos.

If I sound pissed off, I am. Very.