Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 10, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

A FITTING TRIBUTE FOR THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY....After dissing Gregg Easterbrook last night, let me point out a couple of posts on his nameless blog this morning that are right on the money. Literally.

First, the compensation fund for 9/11 victims:

Families who have taken the federal compensation have, so far, received average awards of $1.6 million, tax-free. Families of the United States personnel murdered by Al Qaeda in the Kenya and Tanzania terror attacks of 1998 received, on average, nothing. Families of the several hundred United States military personnel killed in Afghanistan fighting to destroy al Qaeda, and killed in Iraq fighting at least in part against terrorism, received, on average, $9,000, taxable.

Now some 9/11 families are saying $1.6 million isn't enough. Set aside whether they should be receiving anything from taxpayers, given the myriad other circumstances in which Americans die in various horrible events every bit as traumatic and devastating to their families, who receive nothing at all. Assume for the sake of argument that something about 9/11 justifies offering victims' estates a very large special payment. Yet some 9/11 families are saying very large is not large enough. This is greed; it is employing the memory of lost loved ones for gold-digging.

I agree. If 9/11 was an act of war, the United States government (i.e., you and me) isn't obligated to pay the survivors anything. If it wasn't an act of war, then the United States government also doesn't owe the survivors anything. So if they decline the government's rather generous offer and decide to take their chances in court, they should do so without complaining.

And as for court, I frankly have a pretty hard time believing that the landlord of the World Trade Center is actually at fault here. Still, that's a legal question, and who knows? Maybe legally it has merit. But then there's this:

[Lawyer Keith] Franz said that for many victims, money is not the issue. Instead, he explained, they want to litigate to find out more information about what happened on Sept. 11 and why.

"There is no vehicle through the compensation fund that allows them to get those answers," Franz said. "There are moral reasons why a lawsuit is important to these clients."

Raise your hands if you believe this.

Kevin Drum 9:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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