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+What IsLifeWorth? 9.11犠牲者への補償はいかに算定されたか


What IsLifeWorth? 9.11犠牲者への補償はいかに算定されたか
**CalculatingtheIncalculablein the Aftermath of Sept. 11

WHAT IS LIFE WORTH?
The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11
By Kenneth R. Feinberg
213 pages. PublicAffairs. $24.

By WILLIAM GRIMES
Published: June 15, 2005
Less than three months after the World Trade Center collapsed,aWashingtonlawyer, Kenneth R. Feinberg, was handed a highly unusual job. Inaneffort toprop up the airline industry, Congress had passed theAirTransportation Safetyand System Stabilization Act. Along with loanguarantees,the new law calledfor a special fund to compensate victims of the9/11 attacks.The amount of thecompensation, and who qualified for it, would bedecided by anall-powerfulofficial known in legal language as a special master.Mr. Feinberg,a mediatorbest known for resolving the Agent Orange class-actionsuit, got thenod.

Forum: Book News and Reviews
In "What Is Life Worth?" Mr. Feinberg offers a valuable first-personaccountofthe 9/11 compensation fund and its workings. He makes clear, forthefirsttime, exactly how peculiar the law governing the fund was, andtheenormousdifficulties, ethical and practical, that resulted from itsambiguouslanguageand hastily written guidelines.

"Never before had a government offered individuals millions ofdollarsintax-free compensation for a tragic loss," Mr. Feinberg writes."Andneverbefore had government funds been so unregulated. There wasnoearmarkedcongressional appropriation limiting the size of awardsorconstraining mydiscretion. My budget was unlimited; the payouts wouldbedetermined only by mypersonal judgment and experience." In the end,Mr.Feinberg would award morethan $7 billion to 5,560 victims andfamilymembers.

The compensation fund was a strange blend of compassion andcoldcalculation.Washington's lawmakers wanted to express, in dollars, thenation'ssense ofoutrage and grief. Thousands of innocent people had died on thefrontlines of anew war.

But the government also wanted to head off an onslaught ofpersonalinjurylawsuits that could throw the airline industry into turmoil.Thecompensationfund was a giant bet, with public money, that most victimswouldforfeit theirright to sue, and avoid the uncertainties of a court case,ifoffered thecertainty of a reasonable award. It was up to Mr. Feinberg tomakethe bet payoff.

It was not easy. Legal precedent offered little help because, asthebook'ssubtitle suggests, there had never been anything quite like the9/11fund. Mr.Feinberg, in casting about for useful guideposts, consulted theBible.At onepoint he talked things over with a prominent rabbi, who offeredsagecounsel:sometimes life offers no easy answers.

The wording of the statute put Mr. Feinberg in anethicallydifficultposition. By law, he was required to calibrate awardsaccording tothefinancial worth of the deceased victim. Unavoidably, the specialmaster,incarrying out the law, would appear to be making morallyrepugnantdistinctions,telling the wife of a fireman, for example, that herhusband wasworth lessthan a stockbroker.

Mr. Feinberg created his own ethical difficulties, too. The fund, inhismind,should be "compassionate and generous but not profligate." Onlythosevictims whoreceived hospital treatment within 72 hours of the Sept.11attacks, and whoreceived their injuries in the vicinity of the WorldTradeCenter or thePentagon, could apply for compensation. "If we permittedJerseyCity residentswho inhaled the dust and debris to be eligible, wecouldanticipate millions ofadditional cases," Mr. Feinberg writes.

Spouses and children, but not parents, would be eligible forcompensation.Nomoney would be awarded for mental injury or emotional trauma.This, Mr.Feinbergsays, was a tough call but a necessary one to head off a runon theUnitedStates Treasury. "I envisioned five million New Yorkers filingclaims,as wellas the millions of additional Americans and foreigners whowatched thedisasterunfold on television," he writes. Heroism, even when welldocumented,would notentitle anyone to extra money. "My goal was to minimizedistinctionsamongclaimants, not maximize them," Mr. Feinberg explains. "Heroismby allwaspresumed."

Not surprisingly, Mr. Feinberg took a lot of heat (especially inNewYork),even though he accepted no pay for his work. Outraged familymembersattackedhim in public meetings. "I spit on you and your children," afireman'swidowshouted at him at one meeting. Some accused him of administeringa programofhush-money payments. The fund, in this view, was intended to headofflawsuitsthat might lead to embarrassing revelations about thegovernment'sfailure toanticipate 9/11. A class-action lawsuit was filed byfamilies ofemployees atCantor Fitzgerald accusing Mr. Feinberg ofarbitrarilyshortchanginghigh-income victims. The suit was dismissed.

Mr. Feinberg took the high road. The most engaging,emotionallyrewardingpages in "What Is Life Worth?" describe his gruelingefforts to maketheseemingly inscrutable, arbitrary compensation processtransparentandaccessible by holding endless public meetings around the countryandarrangingprivate meetings, sometimes as many as a dozen a day, with victimsandtheirfamilies.

Mr. Feinberg confesses that he was unprepared for the emotionalexperienceofcounseling angry or grieving relatives. Often he was thrust intobitterfamilysquabbles. In the early days of administering the fund, headdressedaudiencesin a lawyerly, just-the-facts style that struck manylisteners, hewrites, as"brusque and callous."

With time, he relied more on his powers of sympathy. Mostly, helistened,andhe has included moving accounts of the stories he heard. Heexplained andheencouraged, and gradually, he won the day. Thanks to alast-minute floodofapplications, the 9/11 fund, which seemed to be teetering onthe edgeoffailure, attracted 97 percent of those eligible for compensation.

That does not make it a good idea. "Despite its success, I would notusethefund as a model in the event of future attacks," Mr. Feinbergconcludes.The9/11 attacks were a special case, he argues. It is bad publicpolicy toholdout the promise that the government will compensate citizensformisfortunes -to act, as he puts it, "as an insurer of last resort." IfCongressdecides tohand out awards in the event of a terrorist attack, however,itshould make thesame payment to everyone, regardless of economicworth.Compassion iswonderful. But egalitarianism is, too.

TITLE:Calculating the Incalculable in the Aftermath of Sept. 11 -NewYorkTimes
DATE:2005/06/14 11:25
URL:http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/15/books/15grim.html?