Last month, the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), a right-wing “think tank” out of California, released a new report purporting to document “the true cost of America’s tort system.” Not surprisingly, PRI’s report is riddled with problems – so much so that whoever funded this project might want to ask for their money back.
The report is based on a thoroughly discredited cost estimate produced by insurance industry consultants Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, and then applies the kind of economic fallacies used only by market fundamentalists to justify the lack of corporate oversight and accountability that resulted in disasters such as Enron and Love Canal. It’s junk economics applied to bad data – you can imagine the result.
PRI’s underlying argument is that we should value the wealth of corporations over the rights of citizens. For example, PRI thinks asbestos workers should be more concerned about “job displacement” than being killed by a deadly work environment. PRI comes across as both unbelievably callous and completely out-of-touch with reality.
The truth is, PRI’s report is little more than a public relations ploy to dupe people into thinking that they have to choose between a sound economy and their legal rights. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Since a recent exchange of letters to the editor, we’ve been able to delve more in-depth into the report. When we were done chortling, we put together a short fact sheet that demonstrates just how ridiculous this thing is. Also, check out this short statement from me about the problems with PRI’s report and the important role that the civil justice system plays in our society.