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Hookers, Homeless and Hollywood - August 24, 2002

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

One thing about liberals ­ they don't seem to get the connection between the candidates or public policies they support and the negative consequences that often follow.

A recent scenario illustrates the point.

Liberals frequently support liberal Democrat candidates for public office. Liberal Democrat candidates oftentimes get big bucks from trial lawyers. Trial lawyers file lawsuits at a greater and greater pace. And tort reform falls by the wayside.

The consequence? Society is now more litigious than ever. Unfortunately, the detrimental activity affects each and every one of us. Prices of goods and services increase to pay for higher insurance and defense costs, as inept judges allow courthouses to accept the flimsy theories of every sort of trivial legal pursuit.

A story from Vancouver, British Columbia, shows how the boomerang effect of wrongheaded political choices may end up hitting one of our nation's most prominent liberal strongholds right in its assets. Brace yourself, Hollywood.

A letter was sent to 30 production companies, demanding some of the material that is typically able to fend off a lawsuit ­ money. The astonishing thing about the letter, though, was the return address. It read: the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users and the Housing Action Committee.

Apparently, this activist network represents the prostitutes, drug addicts and homeless of Vancouver. The letter claims that these individuals have been deprived of their normal neighborhood territory and should be compensated.

A spokesman for the group, Robert Weppler, described the cash demand as "compensation for displacement and inconvenience that the industry recognizes are due to us."

The dispatch goes on to describe hookers as "sex trade workers" who must be compensated in a manner comparable to other displaced businesses. In a similar vein, there is a reference to drug addicts and homeless people who may experience a "push from beneath a bridge" or a "move from a park." They, too, are deserving of reimbursement.

But there is a problem with the comparisons that Canadian activists are making. A shopkeeper who is displaced is not breaking the law. In addition, he or she has a property interest in the location of the business in question.

This simple distinction was not picked up by the Vancouver Sun, which published the following statement in an editorial:

"We see no reason why any unorthodox entrepreneur should be treated differently from other businesses when it comes to compensation."

Also ignored by those demanding money is the fact that filmmakers pay fees and taxes in order to be granted the legal right to produce their projects. They generally bring plenty of job opportunities to an area as well.

The disparity between that which is legitimate and that which is criminal is not stopping homeless advocates in the U.S. either from getting energized about a possible new source of revenue.

Trial lawyers are watching carefully. After all, thieves, burglars and carjackers have made it into the courts. And those who manufacture cigarettes, guns and fast food are quickly becoming the most of vulnerable targets. In the end, this pseudo-justice may turn out to be more than merely poetic. If liberals are hit hard enough by one of their left-hooked boomerangs, they just may wake up from their socialist slumber.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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