No Money, No Justice

I watched bits and pieces of Food Inc. So now that I’ve watched one movie, I’m practically an expert, so allow me to voice an opinion on matters I’m highly under-qualified to talk about.

It seems that there is a tiny little flaw in our justice system. A large company (not “evil”, just focused on maximizing profit) can sue an individual with very little justification and simply through the process of extending the lawsuit (by building a complicated case) over months and years bankrupt that individual. For example, Oprah was sued by Texas cattlemen for mentioning that the news of a mad cow disease outbreak has made her not want to eat another burger. Simple statement, made in 1996. Quick 2 month trial. Oprah found not guilty. The legal fees for her were over one million dollars. Obviously, this didn’t bankrupt her but the movie (as many movies, books, articles have over the years) details cases when much poorer individuals were forced to settle, and found themselves broke and their business bankrupt.

Why would a company (e.g. Monsanto) want to do that? It’s not because its evil and likes to see human beings suffer. It just wants to maximize profit. It does that by bullying the competition out of the market in whatever clever way possible while still avoiding antitrust litigation by the government. There are many ways of doing that, but money is behind most of them. And that’s the tricky problem that capitalism presents: Good ideas make money, but then that money can bully the implementation of next generation’s good ideas from newcomers to the market.

It just seems that there should be some way to avoid paying legal fees if you are found not guilty. In other words, the guilty party pays the bill for both, just like when you get into a car accident.

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