Monday, June 07, 2010

Back From DC

Blogging has been glacial as I've been working on four law review articles and just returned from a talk at the annual meeting of University Faculty for Life at Catholic University Law School in DC.

Some random observations:

I didn't do anything touristy in DC, but I did notice an absence of hagiographic Obama merchandise for sale compared to the last time I was there (November). I suppose that stuff has a limited shelf life, but still ....

My former partner Fred Geilfus has a column in the BizTimes discussing Accountable Care Organizations, a concept that is to be tested under the Obama health care bill - although I would be surprised if it hasn't already been tested in other contexts. The idea is to move away from fee for service on the theory that this creates incentives to provide more service. As Fred knows, this is an issue with lawyers as well. Hourly fees create an incentive to run the clock. Folks in the legal community talk all the time about moving to different fee structures and sometimes they do. But it's not easy and comes with its own costs. My impression is that, for twenty five years or so, it is far more talked about than implemented. I don't know that ACOs are a bad idea but I think, as with so much of ObamaCare, it falls into the trap of thinking that we can get something for nothing. Nor is it clear why, if they work, they wouldn't develop in a true market.

Dan Bice points out that Ron Johnson opposed the proposal to remove the limitations period for suits against organizations claimed to be responsible for the crimes of child sex abusers. Good for Ron Johnson. The bill was a bad idea and opposition to it does not imply a lack of sympathy for victims or lack of revulsion for perpetrators (who are almost never the ones who have to pay civil judgments).

Responding to Johnson's opposition to the bill, Peter Isley of SNAP had a moment of candor - otherwise known as a gaffe - when he said that ""It's interesting they send a Lutheran down to fight a Catholic cause." He wonders "what would Martin Luther say?" The idea that Isley thinks Lutherans should be hostile or indifferent to the concerns of Catholics says more about Isley than it does about Johnson.

It has been my impression that the only studies available show that Catholic priests are no more likely to engage in pedophilia than other groups that work with children. (I was surprised by this.) Those who work for the state generally will not cause litigation to be brought against it because the government is generally immune from that form of liability. Those who work for non-episcopal or hierarchical churches won't cause lawsuits to be brought because their employers are not deep pockets. There have been lawsuits against other churches with episcopates like the Lutherans but the Catholic Church is so much larger that it is always going to seem like a predominantly Catholic problem.

This is not to say that the Church's response hasn't often been disgraceful. But whether to bankrupt a charitable organization for the sins of the dead and retired is another question.

Finally, via Richard Dudley Martin and Bill Tyroler, my attention is drawn to this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a former resident of DC, I can assure you that "collectible" George W. Bush crap was everywhere in the early aughts.

Second, perhaps someday you can do a post on how organized religions differ from government programs. I can't tell the difference. They're both started with zeal, they both evolve over time to resemble something quite different than when they started, and they both develop supporters who become emotionally attached to them to the point they'll justify just about anything.