Friday, October 14, 2011

Man Sues In-laws

Each week on Monday and Friday I post further explanations of my premise and examples of behavioral failings.  I contend that behavior has consequences and that the crises of the day are merely the accumulated consequences of overall behavior, poor individual decisions creating trends in society.  Pick a problem and I can show how it is born from behavioral failures, which can be classified into five key dimensions.  What needs fixing is not the visible problems, but the underlying persistence of poor choices.  Examples show the prevalence of these behaviors throughout our society.  I hope that more people will see events through this new lens to become more sensitive to the core behavior and less focused on mere symptoms.

A strange story from the news last week gave minimal information about the case.  Apparently a man was helping his in-laws retrieve Christmas decorations from the attic and made a misstep, falling into the garage and injuring himself.  He sued his in-laws.

Let me speculate that he sued not because of any family feud or bad feeling, but because he and his in-laws felt that their insurance would pay for his injuries thus relieving them of the expense.  After all, that’s what insurance is for!

I hope I am wrong, because this is clearly “magic money tree” thinking, so common among people weak in Economic Understanding.  When only the insurance companies or the government or some big industry must pay, many people think that the money comes from some big pot of reserves just sitting there to cover these sorts of contingencies.  They don’t appreciate that this pot gets refilled regularly through our taxes, our insurance premiums or higher prices for goods and services.  In the case of insurance this sort of activity not only affects the one company involved, but also increases the risk for all insurance companies, causing them to require a larger reserve, which translates into higher premiums for everyone.  There is no magic money tree.  All the funding that seems free at the time eventually finds its way out of your pocket and mine.

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