When you sue somebody, you get compensatory damages
(or words to that effect; please correct me), which are intended to reimburse you for whatever harm you've suffered. The "conservatives
" don't much like it, but they're willing to tolerate it. Grudgingly. In some cases.
Then we've got punitive
damages, which a court may award a plaintiff
by way of a deterrent
or whatever other halfassed behavior the defendant was engaged in. There are two kinds of punitive damages
: First, there are those damages paid by you and me (e.g. if we run over a kid while driving), which are morally neutral because we don't count. We don't have enough money to buy a Republican Congressman
of our own. Then you've got punitive damages
which are paid by large companies and/or wealthy private citizens. Those
punitive damages are a cancer eating at the heart of this great nation!
Really, they are. This is so for two reasons: First
, the money sometimes goes to poor people, and that's just plain un-American
. It wouldn't be nearly as bad if they gave the money to some other rich people, or even just lit a match to it. Second
, the whole idea seems to imply that people with a lot of money should be held responsible for their actions. Now, that's just plain absurd! Personal responsibility
is a very important principle, but it was certainly never meant to apply to people who can afford to buy a Republican Congressman
. Personal responsibility
means that if you're poor and somebody screws you, it's your problem. If, say, Exxon
is forced to pay for the harm they do, that would be bad for business
, and it's a fundamental principle of democracy
too, in case you didn't know) that what's good for business is GOOD, period.
No ifs, ands, or buts. In a free market
, we voluntarily enter into contracts with businesses, and we pay for what we get and we get what we pay for (unless they cheat us, in which case we should have no recourse because that would be bad for business
). Right? Right! Well, that also means that we're beholden to businesses in mysterious, unquantifiable ways which defy reason! Yes, it's true. If you don't agree then you must be a Communist
. So if some random business poisons my groundwater or clobbers my property values in other ways, why, I should be grateful and shut up. They don't owe me anything, because if they did, that would be bad for business
. It's my personal responsibility
to clean up their mess, at least until I finish saving up for that congressman.