Thursday, January 17, 2002 2:32 PM
Comments on Victim Compensation Fund
First, let me thank the Department of Justice and Congress for legislating
such a fund, and the American Taxpayers who will be paying for it. I know
it will help many people, who would otherwise be devastated by this horrific
act of cruelty.
My objection to how the act is structured, is that it punishes families such
as mine who lived below their means, putting aside money for the future in
401 K's, life insurance, maximum health insurance, etc. and rewards those
who lived for today and didn't have the forethought to plan for the future
or for the unforeseen tragedy. There is an inherent unfairness in deducting
these amounts from the formula. Putting a price on a life is always a
difficult task, and I sympathize with the Special Master, Mr. Feinberg, who
had to make some tough decisions. I know he says he will consider special
circumstances, but without knowing in advance what compensation I'd be
likely to get, I might as well take my chances with the airlines, who
through their lobbying efforts in Congress made it clear that their
financial bottom line was more important than public safety and the lives of
their passengers. I am also horrified that with all that American Airlines
went through, they didn't have a sky Marshall on the Paris plane with the
Sneaker Bomber. Due to much very good luck, the flight attendants and
passengers were able to avert another disaster. With less sharp flight
attendants, or without doctors on board, and      , it could have
turned out quite differently.
I am certainly tempted to seek compensation through the fund, as I know it
will help us move on from this tragedy. But how will I feel later on, when
others who sued the airlines get awards of 5 or 10 million dollars? I will
feel like a fool, whose children could have had choices open to them that
because of my foolishness, they did not. I will feel like I disappointed my
husband who worked so hard and saved so well so his children could have
every opportunity to live a secure and comfortable life.
Please rethink the way the rules and regulations are structured, so that
they make it make sense not to pursue lawsuits with the airlines. This is
probably best done by either not deducting life insurance, etc. or raising
the base compensation amount for each child.
The American people know that on a different day, a different time, a
different place, a different flight, it could have been their loved one that
perished. They would want to know that those who did lose a loved one would
get fair treatment. Also, I hope that the government will get reimbursed in
the future by the airlines, by the assets of the terror organizations or
individuals found guilty of this crime.