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Nutrimentia
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Registered: Sep 2000
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9/11 Victims Compensation Fund: Fair or no?

Have you heard? Congress enacted legislation and appointed a man whose name I don't remember offhand to create a system to distribute money to families who lost providers in the attacks. Families are to be awarded both for emotional pain and economic intangibles as well as future earnings, etc. Everyone gets a flat pain and suffering fee of $250,000.00 plus $50,000.00 for each dependent. The economics are determined by age, income at the time of death, dependents, etc.

Recipients must deduct from this total award anymore they receive in life insurance and other awards, not including charity. They must also forfeit the right to sue in the future (primarily the airlines.). The average award is $1,600,000.00.

A number of groups are complaining about this system. For some families that had life insurance and other security, the deductions reduce their reward to nothing. They complain that Congress had not set any limits on the pain and suffering portion and the program as it stands unfairly limits that.

So what do you think? Is this fair? Do they deserve more? My opinion as informed by watching the News Hour today with the guy who created the program and the head of a victim's group whose wife did in the Pentagon crash is this: The program was established to insure that the victims's families got something, somewhere, out of this. For those families that had life insurance, they are taken care of already. Those who couldn't afford life insurance fall through the cracks and this compensation fund catches them.

It was also pointed out that the $250,000.00 has precendent. If a soldier is killed in battle, the economic and emotional payment is capped at $250,000.00 as is civil service (i.e. Firemen, Police, maybe Postal Carriers?). True, if families wanted to sue, they may in the end get more in pain and suffering, after a lengthy trial, lawyers fee, taxes on money recieved. Applicants to this program get their money within 120 days and there is also a process for individual review if a family feels that they really didn't get anything out of the deal.

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Old Post 02-07-2002 06:16 AM
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bunkum
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My favorite comment was some guy crying about the little amount of money and declaring, "How can they put a price on my son's head?" I'd like to turn the question around. Since when did tragic death become an automatic jackpot? I could see giving, say, a surviving spouse with children, tax relief for a year, help them out a bit. Since when did we become entitled to millionnaire status because bad things happen to innocent people?

The whole money issue really cheapens the disaster, and shows one of the worst sides of America possible.

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Old Post 02-07-2002 06:51 AM
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Spooky
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what happened on the 9th November?

But seriously... the question should not be whether it is fair or not I think, but whether it is the 'right' thing to do. Mind you I thought everyone that would have been working in those buildings would have had pretty good insurance policies?

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Old Post 02-07-2002 08:41 AM
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morgana
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i think it's more than fair for the families of the victims who worked in the buildings. however, i would like to see the families of the firefighters who rushed into those buildings receive a bit more. the office workers were in the wrong place at the wrong time. so were the passengers of the planes. but the firefighters knew what they were getting into and went in anyway, because they wanted to save someone. they knew what was up there: a fucking jet had impaled and exploded the top of the building. yet they still went in to assist and look for survivors. 85 flights of stairs, yet they rushed right past the fleeing victims, who described what was waiting for them. job or no, you have to be pretty courageous to even consider doing that. i think there's a HUGE difference between fighting a fire in a two or three story house, and rushing up almost 90 flights of stairs to save someone from an exploding jet on top of a building. their families should receive a little bit more for that.

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Old Post 02-07-2002 04:21 PM
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buddha's penis
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i saw some woman on tv saying "we can't pay the families of the victims enough." buh? what are they owed? life insurance and life insurance only. shit happens, sometimes said shit is terrible. i don't see why the family of a guy that died in this instance deserves any more than the family of a guy who was hit by a drunk driver, or any other similar tragedy.
i agree with bunkum, this is ugly.

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Old Post 02-07-2002 06:04 PM
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Smug Git
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Well, firefighters who die in line of duty ought to be covered by some widow's pension type thing anyway, surely? I wouldn't give them more from the charity pot though; going in, dangerous as it was, is their job. It's not as if they are only fireman when it is safe and that is why I would have thought that they would be covered by an existing arrangement if they dis in the line of duty.

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Old Post 02-07-2002 08:27 PM
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bunkum
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FYI, the surviving families of the USS Cole explosion averaged $20,000 from the government. A collection was started among former Cole sailors and current survivors to help the widows and children through. It was only a few people, though, right?

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Old Post 02-07-2002 09:52 PM
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Smug Git
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quote:
Originally posted by bunkum
FYI, the surviving families of the USS Cole explosion averaged $20,000 from the government. A collection was started among former Cole sailors and current survivors to help the widows and children through. It was only a few people, though, right?


There is no widow's pension for the wives of servicemen who die in active service?

That is strange, indeed. I think that it is fair that the country repays people who died in its service as a direct result of said service; and, let's face it, people are going to die in the armed forces.

Were there not a lot of charitable donations to the WTC victims' families?

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Old Post 02-07-2002 10:08 PM
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Astro74
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quote:
Originally posted by Buddha's Penis!
what are they owed? life insurance and life insurance only. shit happens, sometimes said shit is terrible. i don't see why the family of a guy that died in this instance deserves any more than the family of a guy who was hit by a drunk driver, or any other similar tragedy.



Well by saying they deserve no more money then a person hit by a drunk driver. Then I guess those who receive life insurance after a loved one is hit by a Drunk Driver should not be allowed to sue for wrongful death. By your logic they already got their pay day right?

How can anyone say it isn't fair when the majority of the money, if not all was raised by civilian donations. If the money was raised for those who perished then why not give it to them. Money makes everything ugly. Look at all the reports and stories of familes torn apart after a wealthy family member dies.

To answer Smug's question, several hundred millions of dollars was raised. There were several different charities that money went too. I believe some went specifically to Police and Fireman families and other went to the victims in general.

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Old Post 02-07-2002 11:24 PM
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buddha's penis
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they already got their pay day...yeah, but that's really not the point. my point is, people die. i don't think it's at all fair to ask for money in this circumstance. people complaining that they don't get more? more than what? why is this any different than if they had died another way?
for the record i think suing for wrongful death, unless it's done to prove a point, is just as bad.

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Old Post 02-08-2002 04:48 AM
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Nutrimentia
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quote:
Originally posted by Astro74



How can anyone say it isn't fair when the majority of the money, if not all was raised by civilian donations. If the money was raised for those who perished then why not give it to them.

To answer Smug's question, several hundred millions of dollars was raised. There were several different charities that money went too. I believe some went specifically to Police and Fireman families and other went to the victims in general.



This is incorrect. This fund is a government funded program paid by tax dollars and is seperate from the charity money. Money recieved from charity doesn't have to be deducted from the amount determined by the fund either, so the firemen families get to keep that off the top.

edit addendum: Regarding payments for solidiers killed on active duty, the guy in charge of the 9/11 fund said that there is a $250K cap on that and he specifically referenced US soldiers in Afghanistan. There may be a distinction between combat situations and regular duty wherein those killed in regular duty (training accidents, etc.) get less. I really don't know the specifics though. Any idea what the 19 servicemen killed in the SaudiArabia barracks attack got? I was also wondering if the Oklahoma City families got government compensation....

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Old Post 02-08-2002 04:58 AM
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Astro74
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Registered: Jun 2001
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quote:
Originally posted by Nutrimentia


This is incorrect. This fund is a government funded program paid by tax dollars and is seperate from the charity money. Money recieved from charity doesn't have to be deducted from the amount determined by the fund either, so the firemen families get to keep that off the top.

edit addendum: Regarding payments for solidiers killed on active duty, the guy in charge of the 9/11 fund said that there is a $250K cap on that and he specifically referenced US soldiers in Afghanistan. There may be a distinction between combat situations and regular duty wherein those killed in regular duty (training accidents, etc.) get less. I really don't know the specifics though. Any idea what the 19 servicemen killed in the SaudiArabia barracks attack got? I was also wondering if the Oklahoma City families got government compensation....



I think there is a mix up in the facts cause an average of 1.6 million dollars paid out for the lose of 3,000 people would total in the area of 4.8 billion dollars.

I just do not think our government is about to shell out 4.8 billion dollars. There was a thread on the main forum about this very subject.

If I remember correctly the money is comming to the families in the following manner. First they get money from the donations. Secondly the other part of their compensation comes from a government bail out to the airlines. Apart of the bail out agreement put aside money for the victims families. To receive that money, the individuals have to give up the right to sue the airlines. That is how it would total 1.6 million dollars.

The government also put someone in charge of the distribution of the money mainly cause of the amount and to reduce the fact that charities will use some of the money for their own purpose (i.e. Red Cross wanting to use like 69 million dollars instead of giving it to the families)

Also there was a thread that I posted a new article about the victim families from the Oklahoma City bombing complaining how they feel they should get a piece of the money raised from 9-11. There was money donated to the victims of Oklahoma City but it only totalled like an average of $68,000 per victim and alot of the money was used to cover medical and counselling costs.

Edit: I think that the 1.6 million is the base amount that could be given to a family. Based off of lost possible income some families could recieve upwards of 3.2 million or more.

Last edited by Astro74 on 02-08-2002 at 07:57 AM

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Old Post 02-08-2002 05:29 AM
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Cruise Director
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I posted this in October at the Hypertribe. My thoughts remain the same.

The government is proposing that we pay out dollars to each of the 14,000 or so people that were killed or injured in last September's attack on the WTC. This has been proposed so that those claiming a piece of the new found windfall will choose not to sue. Who do they sue? Our government for not protecting the borders? Maybe the airlines for not confiscating items like nail clippers, and small knives? Now, keep in mind that the payout would be lessened by any and all insurance benefits these people will receive.

Now, I don't want to sound like an asshole here, but I have a HUGE problem handing out this money like it's candy! I sympathize with those that were injured. I mourn for those that were lost. I do not, however, think that the taxpayers owe them a retirement. It seems to me that the injured victims should be allowed to be compensated for their medical costs and lost work time. The unfortunate victims' families should receive the deceased annual salary for a set period of time. That is fair. Put a deadline on it of, say, 5 years. Allow the family to adjust to the loss of the person's income that they rely on. I really don't think they deserve sympathy dollars. That's exactly what they are, aren't they?

Problem 2: Where do you draw the line? Do you backpay the victims of he Oklahoma City bombing? That, too, was a terrorist act that took a lot of people. How about the first WTC bombing? That took some people away that may not have been ready to go. A local editoral included this statement. "Just because the victims of the September 11th trajedy have businesses they can sue, does that make the victims of any other terrorist attacks less deserving?" Great question.

Problem 3: Precedent has already been said. 1999. Serbia. "Accidental" bombing of the Chinese embassy. Uncle Sam handed over 1.5 million to each of the families of the victims of our own terrorist attack.

In the day and age where anybody can sue anybody for anything, it seems that our government is willing to pay the ransom to avoid the flood of lawsuits that we all know is coming.

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Old Post 02-08-2002 07:38 AM
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Spooky
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quote:
Originally posted by Cruise Director
In the day and age where anybody can sue anybody for anything, it seems that our government is willing to pay the ransom to avoid the flood of lawsuits that we all know is coming.


I have often wondered this, but how come America is such a litagous society?

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Old Post 02-08-2002 09:35 AM
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Astro74
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quote:
Originally posted by Spooky


I have often wondered this, but how come America is such a litagous society?



I would have to think that majority of politicians are lawyers and well lawyers are making most of the laws/decisions.

Who profits the most from lawsuits?????

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Old Post 02-08-2002 09:37 AM
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Smug Git
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Perhaps part of the strategy might be to minimise the effects of the terrorism; you can't bring back dead people but you can give money to the bereaved/dependents of the dead people. Governments, if they wish to discourage more terrorism, seek to minimise the effects of the successful terrorist acts; the aim of terrorists is to force, through the effects of their acts, the powers that be to change policy to their own advantage. This would not be a change that is really to the terrorists own advantage (they would have to kill a lot more people before compensation became expensive enough for the government to really care).

It is, however, a matter of taste, but I think that reasoning like that outlined above does at least differentiate these cases from the the unfortunate accidental/deliberate deaths like traffic accidents and so on, i.e., providing some (possibly shaky) rationale by which you can give to WTC victims and not to victims of uninsured drunk drivers.

The Oklahoma issue would appear to me to be a similar one, although I guess that isn't 'global terrorism' (to my mind a foolish distinction to make) and so maybe the government doesn't feel threatened by it. Alternatively, this could be a new policy approach brought about by a feeling that there may be an ongoing terrorist problem, so the Oklahoma victims just were unfrtunate to get killed too early.

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Old Post 02-08-2002 12:42 PM
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Smug Git
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And also...

I think that part of the litigiousness of merkin society is the commonness of 'no win, no fee' deals from lawyers (even though there are some of those here, they are limited), the fact that the loser may not have to pay all the court costs of the winner (which is the case here, thus limiting the advantages of 'no win, no fee' as if you lose you can still have a big bill, and you have to prove that you can pay that bill before the trial) and also the awarding of exemplary damages, to 'hurt' the transgressor; the exemplary damages are awarded to the victim over and above the damages that they are awarded in compensation. In my opinion, exemplary damages, which I think are necesary, should go to charity or to the government. If they went to government, it would lower the tax burden on companies that obey the law as those that don't would be paying more into government funds. This would also limit the attractiveness of litigation as it would reduce the potential payout to a level proportionate to the suffering of the plaintiff. Of course, you would have to trust the government not to rig the system...

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Old Post 02-08-2002 12:46 PM
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Astro74
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A major difference between Oklahoma and WTC is the fact the victims famlies of the WTC have someone they can sue.

Oklahoma victims families had really nobody they could sue for compensation. The federal government has already bailed out the airlines once so far after 9-11. So if all the victims families pull together and do a class action suit. It could possibly bankrupt those two specific ailines.

Then who is gonna be there to bail them out. The fgederal government. So by setting up a section to give the families money in the return of not being able to sue, they save the possiblity of losing 2 major airline companies and having to possibly bail them out in the tune for many billions of dollars.

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Old Post 02-08-2002 12:49 PM
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Smug Git
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Interestingly, this relates to the poitics/business thread that I posted a few days ago. Bailing out aorlines with government money is a massice interference by the government in business matters. Presumably the government is not accepting respnosibility, saying that 'our policies caused the WTC attack', so they are just plain giving cash to private companies.

Presumably some companies, like airline companies, although private, are considered important to the nation and get bailed out in bad times and get to make money in good times? Even if the bail out is a loan it is worth money because it will be a better one that they could get from commercial lenders.

I can see why it is happening (airlines are important) but it isn't very free market, especially as it might be said that the airline industry didn't help itself with crap security. Their have been European carriers that have got help from government too, although some have collapsed in the end regardless. Maybe ENRON should blame their disaster on some foreigners and get government cash? I blame Akbar El-Andersen, myself.

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Old Post 02-08-2002 01:01 PM
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Astro74
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quote:
Originally posted by Smug Git

Presumably some companies, like airline companies, although private, are considered important to the nation and get bailed out in bad times and get to make money in good times? Even if the bail out is a loan it is worth money because it will be a better one that they could get from commercial lenders.



I am thinking the logic on bailing out the airlines, is the fact they have a serious affect on inter-state commece. Not only are people carried back and forth on them but so is many forms of merchandise.

Once inter-state commerce is affected then the federal government has a right to step in and help out in basically what way it feels needed.

Also on a logistical stand point keeping those airlines is good for the military. I remember learning that the military has a contract with the airlines in the event of a war/conflict the military can call in commercial airliners for support reasons.

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Old Post 02-08-2002 01:11 PM
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Smug Git
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I agree with what you are saying astro, but is the only payment that the government gets for providing this unique business insurance to the airlines the use of aircraft in times of military need? The importance in interstate trade is, I should imagine, undeniable, but if they went bust presumably others would pick up the pieces, as it is a normal transportation business. Do truckers get lots of government money when times are hard? (maybe they do, I really wouldn't know).

I am just thinking of this in relation to my thread on government interference in government and the more I think about it, the less I like this bail-out for the airlines and not for ENRON, say (I would say 'help neither very much'). If the government are that concerned they should buy the remnants of the bankrupt business and run it themselves (Although I wouldn't advocate that!).

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Old Post 02-08-2002 03:39 PM
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squee
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If I may step in. . .

First of all, there is NO "widow's pension" that I know of in the Navy. The $250,000 mentioned is Serviceman's Group Life Insurance (SGLI), a low-cost life insurance plan provided by the Department of Defense (mine is set at $250k and I pay like $22 per month). It only covers deaths in the line of duty--so if I die on a skiing trip my spouse and kids are fucked.

Second, as far as I know nobody is suing the Taliban or Al'Qaeda or anything...I think one lady did a few months ago but I haven't heard anything about it. This sounds like the government is GIVING people money to keep them happy and quiet. Notice that there is an interest in these people not suing the airlines nor the administration which failed to protect its citizens against this type of attack. So they are basically heading people off at the pass to shut them up, IMHO.

If they are paying out $1.6m average for surviving family, I wonder if they are going to give mone to the Franciscan monks--seeing as how the first body bag in the morgue on September 11th was the Franciscan Priest Father Mychal Judge, an FDNY Chaplain from Engine Co. #1/Ladder Co. #24, who is survived only by his monastic Brotherhood and his friends at the Fire Dept. Just between you and me, I think they're going to get the shaft as always.

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Old Post 02-08-2002 04:23 PM
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