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Paul N. Ford
Paul N. Ford
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Tort Reform: Why Conservatives Should Oppose It

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I recently attended a legal seminar and heard Ken Connor, an attorney from Florida, speak. Ken is a conservative trial lawyer. And his perspective on tort reform and people of conservative ideology was extremely insightful. I have thought about his message many times and have come to conclude that conservatives are being sold a bill of goods on the subject of tort reform; and in fact, are departing from traditional conservative values when supporting Tort Reform.

Conservatives believe that the government closest to the people serves the people best. Thomas Jefferson established this core value and conservatives to this day hold to its truth. Conservatives do not want politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. or their state capitol making decisions that control their local school board. Conservatives believe that the size of government makes it subject to ineffeceincy, and even corruption. Money buys influence. Yet, in the support of tort reform, one must be willing to allow politicians, who are swayed by lobbyists, to determine that tort claims should be capped, for example, at $250,000. Yet the politicians know nothing about the particular case. This is a prime example of a government that is not serving its people, but instead is being influenced by the desire to control costs and increase profits.

Furthermore, conservatives believe that money is a motivator and that accountability leads to responsibility. Many conservatives will agree that society sets rules and that those who violate those rules should be held accountable and required to pay the damages caused by the violation of society’s rules. Yet the core premise behind tort reform is to limit the amount one must pay, despite the true damage caused. That does not promote accountability. It destroys it.

Many conservatives, when asked, will tell you that if you do not punish bad behavior, you get more of it. Many conservatives believe in spanking their kids to teach them not to do the wrong thing. They believe that if you do not punish in proper relation to the extent of the wrong doing that you send the wrong message. That is exactly why tort reform sends the wrong message. Particularly when it comes to an artificial damage cap determined by politicians. It sends the message that no matter how wrong your behavior is and no matter how much damage is causes, you will only have to pay so much. That is a free pass and it promotes wrong behavior.

It certainly does not promote accountability and responsibility.

So, I encourage conservatives to consider the true impact of tort reform. It allows corporations to use their financial influence in the political arena to promote their own selfish agenda. Turn on the television, pick up a newspaper, or read online; and when you do so, the overwhelming truth is that companies will stop at nothing to make a profit. In fact, many will argue that the current financial crisis is brought on by corporate greed. Unregulated corporate greed. And tort reform is nothing more than another example of corporations seeking to be protected from regulation….protected from the voice of the people….the voice of a jury.

So, conservatives, rise up and speak out against tort reform before it is too late.