Or . . . Everybody saw this coming.
No matter how you voted in the recent election, unless you’re a complete fool, you knew what was at stake. The fact that the congress has gone dominantly red means that the republican right – and the corporate monsters that fuel the right win republican agenda – is now mobilized to mount an unprecedented attack across the board on the rights of individual citizens.
If you enabled this attack by voting for a republican candidate over a democrat, I’m not going to castigate you for doing it, but I am going to tell you that you deserve what you’re about to get. Unless you yourself are a millionaire – and I don’t mean “just over the edge of a millionaire,” I mean comfortably a millionaire – then you’re a “normal” person. I don’t care if you make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, or tens of thousands. Unless you’re a millionaire, you share much more in common earning five hundred thousand dollars a year with someone who earns fifteen thousand than you do with someone who earns five million. The tax laws aren’t written for you. The corporate agenda to prevent your access to the courts affects you regardless of your income level. Caps on damages that you can collect for being wronged by a corporation affect you regardless of your income. A dirty environment and unsafe products affect you and your family, regardless of your income level.
You get it? Unless you’re part of the “super elite” income-wise, you can’t insulate yourself from the effects of a right wing attack, across the board, on everything that an individual person holds dear. Now that the congress has gone red, here’s just some of the items intended to screw you and your family (and frankly, your community, your state, your country and the planet) on the legislative agenda for the republican monster machine.
- There are two bills pending in the U.S. Senate competing to update the “Toxic Substances Control Act,” both of which would weaken protections for you, your family, our air, our food and our water supply;
- The dishonestly named “Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act” (Senate 401/House of Representatives 758) would make court sanctions against plaintiffs mandatory rather than discretionary. This would remove the ability of the judge to decide when litigation was pursued in good faith. Litigation over new products and new theories that affect or hurt consumers would become “bogged down” in sanction litigation. This is an attempt to prevent companies that develop “new” approaches to things from being held accountable for the fact that those new approaches might be toxic or dangerous;
- “Examination” of the “Class Action Fairness Act” – a statute which gutted the ability to organize collectively against a common “wrongdoer” – to further weaken the act to prevent “class actions” that involve breaches of warranty claims or other consumer “rip offs;”
- Pro-defendant Asbestos bills;
- The senate judiciary committee will be holding a “full committee hearing” on the “Patent Litigation Practices” bill introduced to include “loser pay” provisions and designed to limit the ability of a plaintiff to “discover” information in an effort to prove his or her claims.
Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a study on the detrimental effects of forced arbitration. Based upon this 728 page study, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) created a fact sheet of highlights for AAJ members, congressional staff and the media. Forced arbitration, as I’ve talked about many times in other blogs, is a horrible “innovation” that, in taking away a jury trial, limits the ability of a plaintiff to prove their case, limits damages, puts the case not in front of a jury of the plaintiff’s peers, but in front of a corporate paid arbitrator, and is a nightmare for plaintiffs.
Every time people are made safer and healthier, it’s usually because lawsuits highlighted a problem that the government – often in the control of powerful corporate interests – ignored or covered up. Money buys a lot of silence and intimidation.
Did you, perhaps unknowingly, assist in the “red revolution” that’s going to turn America into a corporate playground? If you did, get ready, because you’re about to reap what you’ve sown. If you resisted this effort in your voting, what can I tell you? Call your legislators, whether they’re in your party or not, tell them that you resist any effort to make products more unsafe and to protect corporations further, and whether or not it falls on deaf ears, at least you’ve done something.