Les Miserables, American Style

I begin with the premise that suffering is a commodity like everything else.

Now Wal-Mart wants their money back.

"Don’t kid yourselves, they wont make a ruckus in America," say the apparatchiks at Wal-Mart’s hindquarters.

She’s just a disabled woman who can’t go back to work and now that she’s won a minor lawsuit against the trucking company that left her brain damaged, let’s sue her to get that money since our corporate health care plan had to pay for her over the past three years. And what the heck, let’s sue the woman for more than she received in damages—who cares if she has to live in destitution. It’s only fair you see, because suffering is a commodity and we at Wal-Mart are always, always rolling back the prices."

I kid you not.

Wal-Mart trots out its public relations hacks. They have the hubris to argue that the solvency of their employee’s health care plan depends on putting this woman into bankruptcy.


Heck, this argument worked with the court.

What’s the difference between a Reaganite court and the Sermon on the Mount?

We no longer have to strive to alleviate suffering. We commodify it like everything else.

What’s my second premise?

It’s raining like mad in America.

Our ancestors stare mutely at us from inside every rain drop.



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0 thoughts on “Les Miserables, American Style

  1. Although settlements in cases resulting in disability may be generous at times, it is a fallacy that they are always generous and I wouldn’t assume that the lawyer didn’t do his best. Most settlements are inadequate for a lifetime of expenses that occur with many disabilities. Sometimes people have to settle for less, perhaps because they need the money more quickly -to survive- and they determine when to settle, not the lawyer, for example. That’s just one factor that affects an outcome.
    The extraordinarily high costs of care need to be weighed when considering amounts in a settlement or the recouping of those amounts, with the bottom line being that the person can receive humane treatment that is manageable for her family. It’s time that we rid ourselves of the assumption that every man/woman is on his/her own, as if we’re all on an island and approach these issues with considerations other than a buck in mind.
    But there is good news this morning. Walmart is dropping the suit against her.


  2. Here’s the thing. The idiot lawyer that this woman had only got a million dollar award, for someone who has had extensive bills in the past and will have extensive bills in the future. They then took aver half of that money in legal fees, leaving the family with less than $430,000. No where near enough to care for the woman the rest of her life. So the lawyer is the bigger jerk to me.
    Then there is the fact that Walmart makes it very clear that if you sue for injuries and win, you have to pay back that money to the health insurance. It isn’t a surprise. Again, the lawyer knew about this and didn’t plan for it.
    Also, it makes sense. Who should be paying the cost of the woman’s medical bills? The people who injured her. Why is it Walmart’s job to pay for her bills when someone else injured her?
    Finally, while Walmart’s insurance solvency is likely not based on the money from this one case, if you realize that there are thousands of these cases, it starts to make sense. Plus, if they don’t go after the money on this case, it hurts their ability to go after it on other cases.
    Walmart wasn’t the most ethical in this case, but they were backed into a corner. The real person to be angry with is the lawyer who left the woman with less money than had already been spent on medical bills.


  3. Walmart is not is not just an evil multinational corporation without regard for its employees. Walmart is proof that ethics and business are incompatible. I for one would never enter a Walmart as it is a sure sign that American society is doomed and our culture has gone to pot.


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