Regarding Thursday’s letter “$1.2 million award a jury’s big mistake,” concerning a lawsuit against tobacco companies, the writer noted that each of us must take responsibility for our own actions. As a member of the jury, I would like to respond.
Increasingly, taking ownership for one’s actions is less and less the norm. So almost reflexively, to counter that tide, an understandable response would be to give sole culpability to the smoker. The plaintiff started smoking in 1940. Smoking was portrayed as glamorous then. You were the exception if you didn’t smoke. The harmful effects were not well understood.
When scientific findings came to light in 1954, linking smoking to cancer, there was a huge cooperative, conspiratorial effort by tobacco companies to counteract this information. As more information came out, the industry added filters and marketed cigarettes as “safer,” when they actually did nothing more than make it smoother to inhale. Companies manipulated nicotine so it would get into your system faster.
Not until the ’60s was there enough clear, unequivocal information relayed to the public that an intelligent adult could be expected to make a responsible decision to smoke or not. Teens were targeted, since, once mature, they would more likely choose not to start smoking.
When we speak of responsibility, if you are a company selling an unusually dangerous product, designed to addict when used as directed, shouldn’t that come with some shared responsibility? At least toward those who began smoking in an era of relative innocence? I can affirm we spent hours deliberating the facts, attempting to avoid either sympathy or prejudice in our decision.
Helen Cohen developed emphysema, and ultimately died of lung cancer. We agree with the letter writer that “there are no innocent parties in this lawsuit.” We held her 40 percent at fault. In this case, from this era, we felt both parties held accountability, and awarded some blame to the tobacco companies.
Kudos for publishing
report on gun deaths
Congrats to The Post for running the article “Gun homicides drop, reports say.” I honestly did not think you would have the guts to print it. Perhaps now the debate can change to not penalizing responsible gun owners but to more enforcement of existing laws. There are many laws on the books, but they do little to remedy problems if they are ignored or not enforced. Think border security.
West Palm Beach
Right always muddles
Regarding the letter “Leave Second Amendment alone,” the writer, and many other people on the far right of the modern conservative movement, continually push the idea that the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution so that citizens could arm themselves against a totalitarian government. They are wrong.
Let me suggest that every private citizen who wants to arm himself or herself and believes in the Constitution should, regardless of age, line up at the recruitment office with his firearms and ammunition every time the United States goes to war. This is the true spirit of the Second Amendment: an armed citizenry willing to put their lives on the line whenever this country is threatened. We have moved far from original intent.
Palm Beach Gardens
by signing petition
The Post editorialized that the environmental regulation bill passed by the Legislature would threaten Florida’s paradise. It is hard to tell how much damage this bill might have, but there is one simple step that any registered Florida voter concerned about the environment can take to help halt this attack.
Florida’s Water & Land Legacy and many environmental groups are collecting signatures to place an amendment to the Florida Constitution on the 2014 general election ballot. It would require that one third of all documentary stamp revenue collected on residential real estate sales be directed to programs that purchase, restore and manage environmentally important lands. In the past three decades, this process was used to fund Save Our Rivers, Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever. In the last three years, however, little if any money has been so directed.
The benefits of land and water resource protection, restoration and proper management are diverse and significant including sustaining clean water supplies, protecting the unique flora and fauna of our ecosystems, supporting the growing ecotourism industry, and providing more opportunities for healthy outdoor recreation. You may visit www.floridawaterlandlegacy.org or call (850) 629-4656 to sign the petition.
Better deals needed
for patients, taxpayers
The commentary “Stop the industry takeover of Medicare” cites example after example of how Congress publicly criticizes the growth of Medicare costs while privately restraining the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from getting a better deal for patients and taxpayers. One such example is that a bipartisan group of senators voted to block Medicare for two years from getting a better price on an expensive drug used by kidney dialysis patients and manufactured by Amgen. This not only saddled Medicare with roughly $500 million in added costs, but provided a windfall for Amgen.
Another example is that Medicare can’t require proof that an expensive drug is more effective than a cheaper version, nor can Medicare encourage patients and doctors in selecting a cheaper option that might work. Art Kellerman is correct in noting that if budget hawks were serious about lowering entitlement spending, they would remove Medicare’s straitjacket. One of my mother’s favorite sayings was: “Any darn fool can spend money. It takes a smart one to save it.”
Man injured by bus
deserves his money
Your article about the man who was grievously injured when a Palm Beach County school bus ran over him in 2008, and who cannot collect the money that the school board agreed to pay him, makes my blood boil.
Why has he been unable to collect? The Florida Legislature won’t release the funds that would provide him with some improvement in his quality of life. So now he lies in bed, unable to walk or talk, getting nourishment from a tube, while the politicians hide behind “sovereign immunity.” That means that if you are injured by a government agency, you can’t collect damages over $200,000 without the express approval of the Legislature, which was “too busy” to consider this claim and 26 other claims.
Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, says the Senate can’t be a “finder of fact.” Why does the Senate get to make life-altering decisions if it can’t be bothered to learn the facts?
policy lacks bite
Apparently, when President Obama draws red lines in the Middle East they have very ragged edges. Chemical weapons use against Syrian civilians was an Obama “red line” that has not-so-sharp edges.
The intelligence services of countries far better informed about the Syrian civil war have concluded that Bashar Assad has used sarin gas against civilians. But Mr. Obama has begun playing with the language to avoid having to take some kind of stand. Nobody doubts the complexity of the Syrian situation and the difficult decisions it requires. But isn’t that why we have all that knowledge and expertise in Washington. Or does the president prefer to find reasons to not come to grips with any unpleasant realities.
Can there now be any question about why the Israeli government doesn’t feel comfortable with Mr. Obama’s Middle East policy? Syria is likely to become a failed state ruled by fractious Islamist radicals. Our ally Jordan is very worried about what could happen to King Abdullah and its own destiny. And all Israel can see is another hornet’s nest on its borders.
DAVID S. MOST