I know these Diaries are read by a bunch of highly intelligent people who are well versed in many of the political intricacies of American culture and law. Indeed, better versed than I, if truth be known.
Sometimes though there are those rare occasions where some confusion might arise as to what might be a reasonable liberal or progressive stance on a topic.
One of those is "Tort Reform".
We all grin wryly at the suggestion that Mrs Smith from Boise, Idaho, should be awarded $2 million because her McApple Pie was a tad on the warm side, or that Billy Ray Munster might get $3 million "pain and suffering" when he fell off his washing machine trying to change a lightbulb, because Samsung didn't label the machine "Not For Standing On" ... I made both of those up by the way, and teh Google will not help you. Google will help you find many other similar examples.
Should an individual be awarded punitive damages that do not simply mitigate the harm caused, but allow that person to live in the lap of luxury for the rest of their lives, and similarly enrich a bunch of ambulance-chasing lawyers?
Somehow it doesn't seem fair. After all, we all end up picking up the tab through increased costs, because if the corporations do not pass those costs on they will eventually go broke. Jobs will be lost, families devastated and the poor shareholders and Executives might be forced down to their last Range Rover.
This is a difficult argument for progressives to make because we feel some sympathy ... Mr Munster doesn't actually deserve all that money, and accidents do happen.
The thing is, it isn't really an argument about tort, or punitive damages, or compensation for loss. It is an argument about effective regulation.
So successful has the right been in preventing decent consumer protections, blocking sensible regulation in the name of freedom, and Capitalism, that corporations are free to behave with impunity. There is nothing you can do to gain redress from the negligence of a large company. You are not big enough, rich enough or important enough for anyone to care. Everyone knows that microwaved apple pies have the internal temperature of a small scale nuclear reactor, the fact that you didn't, or your child didn't, is not the negligence of McWendys, but your own stupid fault!
Absent any real consumer protections, the only check on the excesses of corporations is the real prospect of having their asses sued into oblivion. It is a blunt instrument, it is inefficient at best, but it remains all we have.
So now the Koch Bothers, and ALEC have managed to remove or forestall our protections what they need to do now is pass Tort Reform Legislation. When they have accomplished that you will have no redress, no protection, no chance of preventing aircraft operators from using grey market parts, or your doctor from leaving half of his surgical equipment in your abdomen.
If we can mange to pass the kind of consumer regulations that protect citizens, those same regulations will offer enormous protections to decent corporations, because they will reduce the competition from the crooked ones.
If we cannot impose regulations, then tort takes the place. Poorly, inadequately it must be said, but it is all we have.
Allow tort reform without balancing laws, and we may as well sell our children into labour at one dollar an hour .... because there will be nothing to stop it happening.