Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

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Faulty Toys Are Not a Game

George Thompson - November 29th, 2007
The massive toy and product recalls from China during 2007 should cause Michigan residents to thoughtfully reconsider the legal “reforms” that have been instituted by Chief Justice Taylor and other very conservative Republicans. Michigan residents are already paying the price for the special favors that have been granted to donors by conservative extremists, yet the Chamber of Commerce continues to steer seven–figure contributions to Justice Taylor and his companions, and to urge additional legal “reforms” that would benefit their special interests.
Although there are many anti–consumer reforms, I would point readers to only two “reforms” as examples. The first is the elimination of retail responsibility for defective products. Everyone realizes today that we have diverted almost our entire manufacturing base offshore–most of it to China. Eighty percent of our SUV tires. Three–quarters of our childrens’ toys. Virtually all of the cribs sold in this country and many of the components of our prescription drugs. All of these products have resulted in huge recalls this year, and most were made in China. They include significant health and safety risks like lead–coated Halloween teeth and children’s jewelry, tires that lack blow–out protection, and “Aqua–Dots” childrens’ games coated with the GHB drug. The latter game has just recently appeared on the market and has already sent five children to the hospital with seizures.
What most Michigan residents don’t know is that the Chinese government won’t allow Americans to sue Chinese manufacturers. Since Michigan is the only state that doesn’t allow lawsuits against retailers, Michigan consumers injured by defective products are denied any form of compensation. As a result, if the victims’ injuries are serious enough, taxpayers are forced to pay their medical expenses, and for rehabilitation and perhaps also pay for their long–term care (or the care of their surviving dependants). The problem goes beyond a denial of compensation, however. Since retailers are not subject to lawsuits, they have less incentive to select or screen for safer products. In addition, since they aren’t subject to liability, they no longer have an incentive to demand that suppliers purchase insurance to protect their customers (and themselves) from the impact of a defective product.
In the past and in other states, large retailers such as Kmart who faced potential legal responsibility for a defective product, pressured their suppliers to purchase liability insurance. As a result, a system was in place to compensate victims and to spread the cost of a product error among all purchasers.
Today, no one who can or should pay for the consequences of a defective product can be reached through the Michigan Courts. Even worse, though, at a time when our jobs are scattering overseas, this system places an extra burden on in–state manufacturers that Chinese manufacturers do not bear. Since local manufacturers remain responsible for their mistakes, and since our legislature and Chinese government have conspired to eliminate recourse to the Chinese, we have handed one more competitive advantage to the Chinese: they don’t even have to pay the few cents per product that it would cost to buy insurance.
A similar Michigan disadvantage arising out of liability “reform” relates to FDA–approved drugs. Our state is the only one which grants immunity to drug manufacturers for any drug that has been approved–even if the approval is based on fraud or a failure to disclose significant safety concerns. When Vioxx agreed to pay almost 5 billion dollars to the 26,000 people who claimed myocardial infarctions or strokes caused by the drug, no Michigan victims were allowed a day in court: the manufacturer, Merck, is immune from suit here because the drug was initially approved by the FDA without disclosure of the safety concerns Merck had already identified. The extremists in our Legislature and Supreme Court have refused to address the ultimate fairness or reasonableness of these “reforms”. Is it because the courts are clogged with product liability or personal injury cases?
Not according to statistics recently published by the Circuit Courts in Michigan.
Counting all injury trials for the calendar year 2006, there were fewer than 350 trials, total, in the entire State – fewer than four per county, average. In 2002, there were three product liability trials in Michigan. In 2003 there were six. In ‘04 there were seven; there were five in 2005 and five in 2006. In other words, every 20 years or so, each of the 83 counties in the State has to take a week or two to try a product liability case.This is not an unreasonable burden on the courts: all personal case filings total less than one percent of the Courts’ total work load.
These humble statistics do not justify a public policy that deprives citizens of important rights–and of justice for that matter–for the sake of commerce. Do you think American manufacturers gain significant insurance relief because there is one state, out of fifty, where they cannot be sued? All manner of products are safer, today, because we allowed consumer victims recourse against dangerous products. Are we sacrificing that protection for a Chinese–style Augean Stable where product liability means the execution of some government executive after defects are discovered to have caused injury and death?
It is clear that we should make public policy decisions that do not deprive our citizenry–including victims, taxpayers and manufacturers–of basic rights to “a day in court” on the basis of ignorance. As matters stand currently, our manufacturers, injury victims and taxpayers are being sacrificed on an altar of demagoguery because of cash contributions from the insurance industry and the Chamber of Commerce. Common sense solutions, individual rights and sound public policies are being rejected by career politicians who pander to the pocket–books of their corporate sponsors.
 
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