The first article in this series explained why conservatives are so consistently opposed to modern "marriage" trends. Throughout history, all societies which abandoned the traditional one man, one woman family structure have collapsed. The conservative version of the precautionary principle suggests that these newer family structures are known not to work so we shouldn't go there.
The second article pointed out that our Asian competitors' educational systems strive to equip kids to accumulate as much wealth and power as possible. This requires great effort by students and by teachers.
In contrast, America's current public educational system is designed to minimize the amount of work teachers have to do and to funnel taxpayer money into teachers' unions and from them to Democrats who're running for office. Without a competent, well-educated workforce, we won't be able to operate a modern economy and our food supply will suffer.
This article discusses the degeneration of our legal system. A court system has two purposes:
A great many economic studies have demonstrated that a predictable, affordable, reasonably fair justice system is essential to a modern economy. If the justice system is incompetent or inefficient, businesspeople can only do business with other people who they personally know and trust. This greatly limits the potential growth of their businesses, as well as their ability to employ competent individuals - someone outside your family may be more competent than your brother-in-law, but if there's no way to legally enforce his performance, familial trust takes precedence.
If the justice system is corrupt, problems are even worse: an honest, inoffensive businessman may find his entire business simply stolen by a politically-connected or well-funded legal opponent. In such an environment, businesses need to stay even smaller - small enough not to be worth the bother of stealing through the courts.
In either case, small businesses can't grow, and two centuries of experience in America prove that growing small businesses is the #1 way to increase both national wealth and overall employment. Simply put, an honest, effective, unbiased, incorruptible justice system doesn't just make a country richer, it's an absolute requirement for economic growth of any significance.
Traditionally, America has been proud of its justice system and it's worked very well for us for a long time. Is such confidence still warranted today?
On Jan 16, 2013, USA Today published "Notice of class action and proposed settlement" which describes a lawsuit against Facebook. This "Legal Notice" begins:
This Notice relates to a proposed settlement ("Settlement") of a class action lawsuit ("Action") against Facebook relating to a particular Facebook feature called "Sponsored Stories." If, prior to December 3, 2012, you or your child are or were a Facebook user in the United States and a Facebook Sponsored Story featured your or your child's name and profile picture, you or your child may be a "Class Member" in the action.
The theory behind class actions is that if a business does something that does a little harm to lots of people, none of the damaged individuals can sue because going to court is so expensive. Lawyers dreamed up the idea of grouping all the people who were harmed and bringing a single "class action lawsuit" on behalf of all of them at once.
If enough people were hurt and can be persuaded to join the lawsuit, the lawyers can afford to put up the money to sue. In principle, this allows for justice to be served against corrupt companies that survive by fleecing a great many individuals such small amounts that no one of them will take the bother to sue.
Any money awarded by the court should be paid to the people who were damaged - but since each individual damage is small, each individual award will be too. It may not be even worth the bother and expense of a stamp to apply.
But because the total number of damaged parties is large, the actual total dollar figure involved can be quite sizeable. Depending on what judges allow, the lawyers can end up keeping most of the money because the "plaintiffs" didn't bother to claim their share.
The Notice refers readers to a web site which gives further details:
Sponsored Stories are a form of advertising that typically contain posts which appear on facebook.com about or from a Facebook user or entity that a business, organization, or individual has paid to promote so there is a better chance that the posts will be seen by the user or entity's chosen audience.
Facebook allows businesses to set up Facebook pages to promote their products. If you clicked the "Like" button on a Facebook business page, the business can pay Facebook to post a Sponsored Story saying "John played Farmville." or "Mary likes UNICEF." These ads would appear when your friends logged on to Facebook. The theory was that your friends might visit a page you liked.
The explanation goes on:
A class action lawsuit against Facebook, Inc. ("Facebook") claimed that Facebook unlawfully used Class Members' names, profile pictures, photographs, likenesses, and identities to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories, without obtaining Class Members' consent. Facebook denies any wrongdoing and any liability whatsoever. No court or other entity has made any judgment or other determination of any liability.
Of course Facebook would deny wrongdoing. Whenever you click a Like button on any page, you see your profile picture and your name appear on that page. Liking a Facebook page is as public an act as creating your own Facebook page in the first place. How could it possibly violate your privacy for Facebook to post an ad saying you'd liked a page?
The web site explains how the matter will play out:
Facebook has agreed to:
Pay $20 million into a fund that can be used, in part, to pay claims of Class Members (including Minor Subclass Members) who appeared in a Sponsored Story. Each participating Class Member may be eligible to receive up to $10. The amount, if any, paid to each Authorized Claimant depends upon the number of claims made. No one knows in advance how much each Authorized Claimant will receive, or whether any money will be paid directly to Authorized Claimants. If the number of claims made renders it economically infeasible to pay money to persons who make a timely and valid claim, payment will be made to the not-for-profit organizations identified in Section 7 of the Notice. These organizations are involved in educational outreach that teaches adults and children how to use social media technologies safely, or are involved in research of social media, with a focus on critical thinking around advertising and commercialization, and particularly with protecting the interests of children. [emphasis added]
This paragraph shows that the whole theory of class action lawsuits has morphed into something completely bogus.
First, the most anyone can receive is $10. Getting the $10 requires a rather complex process of filling out forms. Why would anyone take the trouble? The lawyers behind the suit know perfectly well that hardly anybody will; the $20 million is just sitting there to be siphoned off elsewhere.
Second, the lawyers haven't yet bothered to locate the people whom they say were damaged. The notice says, "No one knows in advance how much each Authorized claimant will receive" because nobody knows how many there are. If it wasn't worth the lawyers' time to find out who the plaintiffs even are, just how much merit could this case possibly have? At least ambulance-chasing lawyers have to catch the ambulance and find out who's inside so as to file a claim in their name.
Third, the notice says:
If the number of claims made renders it economically infeasible to pay money to persons who make a timely and valid claim, payment will be made to the not-for-profit organizations identified in Section 7 of the Notice.
In other words, if too many people try to benefit from the class action suit, none of them will get any money at all. Facebook's $20 million will be given to various not-for-profit organizations instead of benefiting the people who were harmed.
This is a perversion of the stated purpose of class action lawsuits. The design of the suit and the settlemen virtually guarantees that nobody "harmed" will receive any relief whatsoever.
So what's the point? The list of charitable organizations which will supposedly benefit is in a .pdf file. Before you get to the list, however, the .pdf reveals the main purpose behind the scam:
In addition to paying claims made by Authorized Claimants or making a payment to the not-for-profit organizations noted below, the $20 million fund will be used to pay any attorneys' fees and costs awarded by the Court to Class Counsel (defined below), any service (incentive) award paid to the Representative Plaintiffs, and any costs incurred by the Settlement Administrator (who is the neutral third party operating this website and processing claims) and Escrow Agent (who is a the neutral third party administering the fund). The part of the fund that will be used to pay claims made by Authorized Claimants or to pay the not-for-profit organizations noted below is called the Net Settlement Fund. [emphasis added]
The lawyers get their cut first, other hangers-on get paid, and claimants' payments will be cut pro rata if lots of people write in asking for $10. If anything's left - a big if - it'll go to "charity."
Assuming the lawyers aren't so greedy as to rake off every last cent, just what sort of "charities" get the remainder? Five points if you guessed that the list is a who's who of liberal organizations and political pressure groups masquerading as nonprofit charities:
Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Berkman Center for Internet and Society (Harvard Law School), Information Law Institute (NYU Law School), Berkeley Center for Law and Technology (Berkeley Law School), Center for Internet and Society (Stanford Law School), High Tech Law Institute (Santa Clara University School of Law), Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, Consumers Federation of America, Consumer Privacy Rights Fund, ConnectSafely.org, and WiredSafety.org.
It's obvious what's in it for the lawyers: big bucks in their pocket and street cred with the kind of liberal "charities" their political buddies operate. But why would Facebook participate in this shakedown, this obvious wastage of their stockholders' money?
There is currently controversy about Internet privacy both in the United States and in Europe. Lawmakers are pondering sweeping changes to the law, any one of which could make it very hard for Facebook to operate its business.
The company probably decided that it was better to pay $20 million than to risk the bad publicity that would come from going to trial, particularly given the number of liberal nonprofits who could be counted on to issue all kinds of critical press releases. They might even have thought that some of the nonprofits would use the money to argue for causes that Facebook's executives actually agree with.
This won't work, of course. The nonprofits will take Facebook's $20 million and issue damaging press releases anyway. They'll probably claim that Facebook must have done something wrong or they wouldn't have paid the $20 million - and, no doubt, that both Facebook and its billionaire executives need to do more to pay their "fair share."
All of these organizations support liberal causes and help Democrats who're campaigning for office. Trial lawyers who initiate these blackmail schemes donate large sums to Democrats to persuade them not to correct the laws that permit such blatant misuse of our court system.
This bogus lawsuit is a perfect explanation why business in other countries would much rather be sued in Russia or in China than in the US. It's another reason conservatives view modern trends with alarm - a court system that's morphed into a blackmail scheme is no court system at all.