Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Don’t take your grief out on the rest of us.

Posted by sanityinjection on August 12, 2009

If you lost a loved one to a disease, would your first inclination be to sue your local government for failing to protect them from it?

It would if your name is Bonnie Wiener. Mrs. Wiener’s late husband, Mitchell Wiener, was the assistant principal of a public school in Queens, New York City. Mr. Wiener contracted the H1N1 “swine flu” virus and passed away on May 17. Mrs. Wiener is now suing the city of New York for failing to warn her husband that he’d been exposed to the virus and failing to shut down the school when students became sick. (The school was temporarily closed three days before Wiener died.) Her wrongful death lawsuit seeks $40 million in damages from the city.

We can certainly imagine Mrs. Wiener’s grief at the loss of her husband. Grief can lead to anger and the desire to lash out and blame someone for the loss. Whether that is the impetus behind this lawsuit, or whether it comes from greed or predatory attorneys, the ultimate victims will be the residents of New York City.

Most likely, the lawsuit will fail. Mr. Wiener suffered from gout and given the low mortality rate of adults who have contracted the virus, I doubt the flu was the sole cause of death. Further, I can’t see how the plaintiff will establish that the school could have prevented Mr. Wiener from contracting the virus. Even if it had closed the school when the first case of flu was confirmed, that would still have been after students and faculty were exposed.

The problem, though, is that the city still has to pay for the cost of defending this lawsuit along with probably hundreds of other spurious claims made by people who think the city can afford to give them money they don’t deserve. By doing so, they prevent that money from being spent on programs that would actually benefit all the residents – not just a few individuals. So when you sue the government, you’re not just taking money from some anonymous entity – you’re taking it from every citizen.

Of course, there are people who have legitimate complaints seeking redress of grievances. But come on – $40 million? While no one could put a monetary value on the life of a human being – especially not to his loved ones – I think we could agree that Mitchell Weiner would not have earned $40 million in his lifetime even if he had lived to the age of 115. (I’m not sure how old Weiner was, but based on his employment history I’m guessing he would have been at least in his early 50s, so you’re looking at maybe 15 years of lost wages.) The amount represents pain and suffering and punitive damages – the same type of claim that has driven the cost of medical care in this country through the roof. In this case, it’s the already astronomically high taxes paid by New York City residents and visitors that bear the burden.

 What Mrs. Wiener is doing is the financial equivalent of going up on a bridge with an AK-47 and spraying bullets into passing cars. No amount of grief from a personal tragedy entitles you to inflict needless suffering on the innocent.


Posted in Domestic News | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Consider the audience

Posted by sanityinjection on October 2, 2008

The New York Post reports that the United Federation of Teachers is handing out Obama/Biden camapign buttons to New York City teachers, and some of those teachers have been wearing the buttons to school:

Naturally, this is a direct violation of New York State Department of Education policy, which holds that schools are not the place for political advocacy. But some teachers are claiming their right to free speech should not be infringed.

Are these people serious? Do teachers really not understand that many parents already think they are trying to force their political views down students’ throats? The teachers claim it is not their intention to indoctrinate students or intimidate anyone with an opposing viewpoint, but in this case intention isn’t really the point. The teachers’ union can distribute buttons to every teacher in New York if they want, but they should not be worn in school. This is consistent with other office environments which prohibit political expression in the workplace for exactly the same reasons. The rationale is only augmented by the fact that the target audience for a teacher wearing a political button during the school day can only be the students.

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about the entire matter is that the teachers in question are either being deliberately disingenuous or are genuinely clueless. Either way, are these the people we want teaching our children?

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »