I was in Miami Beach, Florida, this past weekend.
And I got evicted from my hotel.
Yes, the Trump International Hotel notified me and its other guests that we all had to leave the hotel because Hurricane Jeanne was headed to the South Florida coast.
This struck me as odd on two accounts.
First, it was clear even from the hyper television news coverage of Jeanne that Miami was at the outer edge of the hurricane, with, at worst, 40 miles per hour winds in store for it. It seemed to me that if my well-being were endangered by such winds inside a modern high-rise hotel, Donald Trump may wish to rethink whom he employs as architects and engineers.
Second, I was entirely prepared to assume all risk to myself and absolve the hotel from any responsibility for what might happen to me. And I told them this -- that I will sign away any right to sue the hotel should anything bad happen to me because of the hurricane. I said this because the hotel was honest enough to announce that it was evacuating its guests for reasons of liability.
Of course, I knew they would refuse my offer. Threats of lawsuits now determine much of how Americans and their institutions behave. It is close to impossible to overstate the damage trial lawyers and litigious Americans have done to this country -- not only in terms of the money lost, but even worse, in terms of the moral character lost.
The Gang of Four -- trial lawyers, handpicked jurors, fortune-seeking litigants and like-minded judges (themselves often former trial lawyers) -- have created an environment of mistrust that blankets our society.
Thanks to fear of lawsuits, children are routinely allowed to play in far fewer ways than they were a generation ago. Monkey bars and seesaws are just two examples of park staples that are becoming extinct. Parents are often afraid to allow children who visit their homes to jump on the trampoline, swim in the pool or play with the dog. And many hospitals now forbid videotaping your child's birth, lest something go wrong and you sue them.
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