Saturday, August 06, 2016

Hot Coffee (movie review)

This 2011 film got some additional attention in retrospect thanks to Jamie Leigh Jones finally getting her day in court (spoiler alert, stop reading if you don't want to know the ruling).

However hers is but one of many cases discussed, and win or lose, the point is the integrity of the jury trial system.

Pointing out that the US Chamber of Commerce is no more than a glorified lobby, is helpful, same with the Federal Reserve in a way (not mentioned in the Constitution -- anyone can use the word "Federal").

But then so are the DNC and RNC glorified lobbies, entirely dispensable to the US style of government, if going by original blueprints. Hundreds of parties would be just as feasible.

What the Founding Fathers designed, was three branches of government providing checks and balances, with the Legislature and Executive branches supposedly controllable by money.

The Supreme Court, on the other hand, cannot be wined and dined.

However that premise is somewhat undermined by the later discovery that state judge elections are in fact buyable.  TV ads are quite persuasive when viewers are trained to stay uncritical by high school teachers.

Karl Rove was able to lead a gang of business-minded Texans to buy what was legally for sale.  The US Chamber of Commerce was pretty happy about the Reagan-Bush Era and the resulting change in climate.

Today we see Congress able to block any Executive appointments to the Supreme Court, irreparably harming the system, tearing it down.

Giving ordinary people access to the court system was proving inconvenient for business, as juries would empathize with people and seek to find just solutions.   Just $800 for third degree burns thanks to inhumane kitchen practices was not sitting right with the people.

By branding citizen lawsuits as frivolous, simply a "get rich quick" scheme by trial lawyers, the businesses, including doctors, would enjoy greater impunity than mere limited liability status provides.

Profitability could be protected also, by means of caps on awards, with insurance premiums still rising or held constant.

Likewise employees could be made to bargain away any right to court access by mandatory binding arbitration agreements as a condition of employment.  Without a growing body of case law, with decisions locked away in silos, the paralysis of the justice system became complete.

Loss of access to the courts is what happened to Jamie Leigh Jones, who was sent off to enjoy opportunities in Iraq only to find herself an easy target for a predatory coworker.

The perp knew he'd get off if it ever came down to "he said versus she said", which it did, finally.  He was right, though she had to go through hell and high water to find that out.

With these new measures in place, the US as a system continued to crumble.  The date of its official demise will remain debatable.  Sometime around 1983?

The executive branch had been turned into an instrument of Empire by the Halliburtons of the world.  US Americans could now be exiled to overseas bases, turned into refugees, while investors, eager to play a "supporting role" could reap the profits from their exploitation.  Many young people died for their president.

Congress had proved too spineless to protect its people (Al Franken and Al Gore notwithstanding).

Now the judicial branch was hollowed out.

Al Franken is a star in this film for his brilliant maneuver:  anyone doing business with the Pentagon at least, would not be allowed the customary "cowardly capitalist" outs.  KBR had no choice but to allow a trial, which it won.

Most citizens are losers though, and the US continues to enforce Prohibition without their consent.  Even the bankers are getting mad.  Continuing to pretend it's the dark ages just adds to the sense that we're done with our legal system, and something else is taking its place.

I expect BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) to trump the award caps etc., along with more systems like Yelp for doctors.

People will find out which companies played a "supporting role" in vicious land and oil grabs, human trafficking, other malpractice, and simply refuse to reward them economically going forward.  I know I'll never buy BP again, if I can possibly avoid it.