On John Stossel, and lawyers as ‘parasites’
Friday, July 9, 2010
Every now and then you read something that just makes you scratch your head. This John Stossel column is one of those times.
The short version is Stossel thinks trial lawyers are “parasites.” His word. Why? Well, that’s not really clear, but it seems to come down to lawyers getting a slice of the settlements when juries agree with allegations that doctors, corporations and other defendants erred and damaged the plaintiffs in the process. (And I doubt Stossel works for free, either).
I won’t waste much space on this, since Stossel’s credibility as an independent voice is getting sliced to the core elsewhere. And it is curious that the two lawyers he mentions — John Edwards and Geoffrey Feiger — are Democrats. Republican plaintiffs’ attorney are okay?
It’s hard to argue with conservative voices who insist on people taking responsibility for their actions. Couldn’t agree more. Which is what makes it all the more bizarre when conservative voices argue against doctors, corporations and other entities being held responsible for their mistakes. Lawyers are the last line of defense for the wronged, and even with the inherent problems in the legal system they force accountability from those who pollute, and those who injure or kill people through malpractice, or by putting greed ahead of safety.
Stossel makes it sound as though doctors prescribing an extra test is a bad thing. I’ve never gone under the knife or had a serious illness, but I can tell you I would much prefer a doctor who works in fear of making a mistake than one who feels he or she can gamble with a life with impunity.
And the same goes for businesses that weigh legal exposure as part of a cost-benefit analysis for projects. Only the naive believe corporations operate with the public good in mind. And it’s lawyers with access to the courts that keep them (somewhat) honest.