The Capitalist Society
Capitalism is an arrangement in the financial arrangement in which the means of creation belong to private persons and organizations. The focus is making profit which is mostly realized at the cost of others. Adam Davidson in his essay ‘Working Stiffs’ looks into some acts of capitalism in the world of the jury. Lawsuits grew in size in the 1920s in response to rail companies that caused a rise in rail accidents. Trains hit and killed an increasing number of individuals and death corporate casualty insurance spread. This spread is the essential part of capitalism that resulted to a market based arrangement of verifications and balances on corporations. This paper focuses on the capitalist acts as practiced by the jury.
The capitalists are always in a quest to see how they can make profits. The jury, for example according to Adam are for ever in a mission to assign the deceased in an unlawful death case and gauge how to persuade survivors to settle for less in terms of the assistance. The jury is biased and relies on some factors that settles on the benefits the survivors will get. How much a man is worth for example, depends on how pretty her wife is. If she is pretty, she appeals to the jury who determine the amount of benefits. If she is not pretty or the judge knew her before and hates her due to some reason, then she may not be as fortunate.
Life therefore becomes a competition of the famous. The closer the deceased was to success for example, if she was white, straight, thriving, sociable, powerful, good-looking or grown-up, the greater his or her value. Any divergence from the norm, for example if one was not successful in life, is punished. One must be a man of the people for them to succeed. He should be jack-of-all trades, one who is well conversant with the street, law, medicine, architecture, one who has the luxury of a gun and a badge. Outgoing people, for example are worth more than people who like staying indoors sitting alone, eating and taking beer.
Some cases are not taken to court and end up in the hands of free-lancer juries who work for many companies. Such unlawful death cases like medical mismanagement, product accountability, car wrecks, and aircraft crashes may end up in the hands of such juries in order to get a better outcome. These juries end up taking advantage of these ignorant people. A 59 year old executive in Bronx for example, is supposed to be worth $2 million. The juries will however first calculate the health check and funeral expenditures, how much support the individual offered for his spouse, children and other relatives and then include or take away any intangibles.
The juries have however become a little cynical. They tend to award more for serious injuries but underrate deaths. In a case where a limousine carrying a bride and a groom overturns or a woman dies on the operating table, the case is expected to be handled with much attention and respect. They know these incidents will cost them a lot and thus they tend to give less. They end up giving excuses when the claimants start complaining. It is often either because the defendant had a small insurance policy or the adjuster found something unpleasant about the victim. If the victim was a wife-abuser or a criminal for example, his traits automatically knock down the value.
The freelance juries find themselves in dilemmas. The insured hate them, because they give away their cash. Claimants don’t like them because they are avoiding giving them adequate cash. The organizations they work for also do not like them because they are giving away too much money. Attorneys too do not like them because they are controlling their money. Even they too are uneasy discussing their work. They are not sure what they ought to do, for when they want to please one, they find they are disappointing another. Somehow though, business must continue and profits must be made. Corporate America does not like it when employees contemplate on the deeper truths suggested by their work. The adjusters have no time to ponder on the pain of missing a loved one for this would mean losing a lot of cash.
The entire society according to Adams is capitalistic in nature. Everyone cultivates detachment when one dies at the hands of the industrialized society. Everyone considers the number of lives they are willing to lose for bigger vehicles, aircraft, and sweeter coffee and how we wish for the economy to measure our spirits. For the economy to move smoothly along, death has to be changed into cash by someone so that corporations can operate normally.
Every case could add up to some certain sum of cash. For spouses willing to testify for example, the loss of good, frequent sex could add up to $250,000. When a case goes to trial, the adjusters are always ready to discover a way for them not to pay much money. If the plaintiff claims that her husband was good for example, she will be asked how come the child’s tutor says he never used to pick the child from school. They go to the extent of hiring economists who say the victim would not have amounted to such since the primary value of an individual is derived from both the actual and the potential earnings.
The adjusters are too biased on the judgments of their cases. One can not comprehend for example, for a 26 year old man electrocuted on a work site worth $5 million while another of the same age electrocuted on a different site only worth $400,000. Similarly, a 35 year old HIV positive roofer who fell and died was worth $2 million even with a reduced life expectancy, or a deranged ex-convict killed as he stopped his car on a train track valued $500,000, yet a 24 year old prize fighter who was hit by a driver who admitted he was not paying much attention was worth $150,000. All these incidences prove the bias in the judgment of the jury.
Verdicts keep fluctuating, even within the same jurisdiction. All these depend on the quality of adjusters and lawyers, the personality of the observers or the temperament of the judge or the jury foreman. In some states like the New York judges tend to ignore all the intangibles and focus more on lost income plus something on pain and distress to figure out a person’s worth. Other states like France thou allow the jury to focus on extra curricula activities like golf game. Although the state states this, mostly the judges still rely on their emotion to pass judgment.
At times the place one stays may also be used as a consideration when passing judgment. In Brooklyn, children are often worth only the cost of a casket in the rural areas. In urban however, the value of children is equal to millions. The value of dead children here is very sensitive to geography. If one was killed while driving through Chicago for example, if the individual had a nice education, good prospects but no dependants, he would be worth $1 million. If however the same individual was 40 minutes away in rural Indiana, he would only be worth $35,000.
These juries according to economists like Miller have a huge and often illogical impact on the economy. They believe that the job of determining the life price of a person should be left to the market place. They believe that every time men pay for a life-saving device, they are directly putting significance on their lives. If one for example, decides not to buy a carbon-monoxide detector because it costs $12 million and the odds are low and ends up dying of carbon monoxide poisoning then they are saying that their life is worth less than $12 million. If one pays $500 for an air bag that eliminates a one in 10,000 chance of dying, then they are valuing their life at $5 million.
The value of life according to economists should be determined by specialized experts. The judicial experts however, consider life price to be a subject of opinion which they can decide. The survivors are not in a position to accept quantifiable losses like health check and funeral expenditure and lost return cases would be settled very quickly. The problem comes in when the claimants want acknowledgment arguing that the person they lost was wonderful and that losing them was tragic and so the guilty party should pay. This is normally the focus and the key before the case begins. With time however, the focus changes to the adjuster when the plaintiffs focus on their anger and target revenge.
Thus, adjusters are out to make money and they do not care much about people’s lives. That is the target for every capitalist. They break death down into dollars and even loved ones end up being capitalists for the sake of money. They alter the cases and find reasons for not paying the claimants the correct amounts they claim. They are therefore in the business of nothing else but making profits.