Monday, January 30, 2012

ASBESTOS HYPOCRISY

"I’m sure the nonpartisan League of Women Vultures has been gearing up to run ads showing asbestos victims complaining about Lizzy"

Crusading Lawyer
Having run a Democrat so obnoxious, arrogant and unlikable last time that Massachusetts voters chose a Republican instead, the Democrats tried to find a more likable and populist candidate to face Scott Brown. They chose Elizabeth Warren, who then proceeded to claim that she created the Occupy Movement (back when it was slightly popular) and has been running on being an advocate for consumers and the little guy.

And how we hear news that as a lawyer, she helped corporations avoid asbestos lawsuits. Holly Robichaud writes at the Boston Herald:
What did Lizzy do to earn $44,000 in compensation from the insurance company? She made it harder for claimants to collect. Warren helped establish the bankruptcy strategy for companies to avoid crushing lawsuits. In short, go bankrupt to avoid paying victims.

In court briefings, she supported the effort to protect Travelers Insurance from future lawsuits after agreeing to a $500 million settlement with asbestos plaintiffs.
Supposedly President Obama considered Elizabeth Warren for a cabinet position but realized she'd never survive the confirmation process. This kind of news doesn't exactly help with her "consumer advocate, damn the corporations" campaign, assuming it gets anywhere past the anti-Democrat Herald.

And while I can't help but note the callous hypocrisy, I don't really have much of a problem with Ms Warren's previous work. The Mesothelioma/Asbestos lawsuits and scare is largely a scam. While it has been shown that people exposed to asbestos do have a slightly higher rate of lung cancer, that's only from airborne asbestos, and generally if you leave it lie, it won't cause any problems.

But asbestos is one of those sweet money makers that lawyers found in the 80s and they got the consumer advocate groups and legacy media behind them to create a public perception that this stuff is like plutonium: get near it and die. So now, if there's any in your house or business in any form, you clear it out, even if the law doesn't require you to. To avoid the lawsuits.

And its not cheap to get that stuff cleared out. You can't just have the janitorial service or maintainance team deal with the problem. You have to hire a specialist to come and do it according to special government-mandated codes, which costs tens of thousands of dollars a day. They wall off the area with plastic and seal it up and even put up showers and blowers, and wear special outfits and have to get a special license. Its a whole industry now, and it doesn't come cheap.

Asbestos tiles are harmless until you start breaking them apart and cutting them, because they don't put anything in the air. Insulation can even be safe if you leave it alone, which is almost always what happens with insulation; its inside walls and ceilings, not out being stepped on and stirred up. But they have to go, and they have to go at the expense of a business who has had them for decades without incident because otherwise someone will sue for the GDP of a small country.

So Ms Warren helped businesses avoid the ambulance chasers who've been advertising for a class action lawsuit over mesothelioma for thirty years on television? That's actually a mark in her favor from where I sit.

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