Instapundit brings us a story today by David McElroy about a mine owner titled “‘I’m just quitting’: A scene right out of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ in Birmingham.” Insty focuses on the part of the story where the mine owner says:
“I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I don’t know. I mean, I see these guys — I see them with tears in their eyes — looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stood against the wall here today, basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you.”
I’d like to focus on another small part of the story:
Ronnie Bryant wasn’t there to talk about that particular mine. As a mine operator in a nearby area, he was attending the meeting to listen to what residents and government officials were saying. He listened to close to two hours of people trashing companies of all types and blaming pollution for random cases of cancer in their families. Several speakers clearly believe that all of the cancer and other deaths they see in their families and communities must be caused by pollution. Why? Who knows? Maybe just because it makes for an emotional story to blame big bad business. It’s hard to say.
I might have an answer for that question. People nowadays feel that they are entitled to be compensated for adverse events. If they can blame “pollution” for random cancers in their families then perhaps there’s someone out there to pay. We are bombarded with commercials asking us if we ever took this medicine or that medicine and “suffered” an adverse effect. We are told that we might be “entitled to compensation” for that adverse effect, just call 1-1800- blahblahblah. If we took a certain anti-seizure medication while pregnant and the child had pretty much *any* kind of birth defect at all, we might be entitled to compensation. If we took a medication for oesteoporosis (brittle bones) and subsequently suffered a broken bone, we might be entitled to compensation.If we trip and fall on a city sidewalk we can sue the city to compensate us for our injury.
I look at that second example above and think: I have osteoporosis and I broke a bone. Apparently the medication did not work for me. That is really an expected outcome. It’s not one you want to happen, but no medication works the same for everyone. Efficacy of some medications may even change over time with a specific patient. I used to be able to take NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. I developed an ulcer and can no longer take those types of medications. This makes it hard to deal with inflammation for me as other pain medications don’t reduce the inflammation that is causing the pain in the first place.
When I was a kid my sister and I and a bunch of neighborhood kids were running around the construction zone where a house was being built next door. Sis tripped and fell on a 2 x 4 with a nail in it. The nail punctured her thigh and nicked her femoral artery. She was bleeding like a stuck pig. Luckily it was a weekend and Dad was home. He and mom bundled sis up, asked the neighbor to keep an eye on me, and went to the hospital. A few hours later they were all home and that was the end of it. There was never any thought of suing the builder or the homeowner next door for anything. There wasn’t even a thought of having the builder or homeowner’s insurance cover the expenses.
If something like that happened today, to someone else, I can see suing the builder, the homeowner, the manufacturer of the nails, the manufacturer of the nail gun, the manufacturer of the hammer, the lumber mill, the contractors, and any other entity that could even remotely be connected to the accident that happened as a result of a kid running around where the kid wasn’t supposed to be.