ON-Lion Letter
America's legal system directly and indirectly imposes an overall economic cost totaling more than $865 billion annually, according to Jackpot Justice:  The True Cost of America's Tort System, a new economic analysis released by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) in San Francisco, which is supported by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee.

This equals 27 times more than what the federal government spends on homeland security, 30 times what the National Institutes of Health dedicate to finding cures for deadly diseases, and 13 times what the U.S. Department of Education spends to help educate the nation's children, according to the report.

The burdensome "tort tax" is $9,827 for a family of four and raises health-care spending in the country by $124 billion.

The legal system's measured indirect costs include its adverse impact on research-and-development spending, defensive medicine, the related rise in health-care spending and reduced access to health care, and the loss of output from deaths due to excess liability.

"If tort reforms that eliminate waste are enacted in the United States, the U.S. economy will approach its full economic potential," note the PRI study's authors, Lawrence J. McQuillan, Hovannes Abramyan, and Anthony P. Archie.  "Today, resources are spent on the unnecessary and unproductive redistribution of wealth through excessive litigation, making society poorer in the process."

McQuillan directs the Institute's business and economic studies.  Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour wrote the report's foreword.

"If reforms are enacted that eliminate waste, these freed resources would enable the creation of new productive companies, new productive jobs, new capital investments, and new innovative products," McQuillan and his co-authors continue.  "U.S. businesses would be better able to compete in global markets.  The standard of living for ordinary Americans would rise more rapidly."
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