A jury awards a woman $23 billion. The Constitution said nothing about this.
Last week, a jury of her peers awarded a lone human, Cynthia Robinson, over $23.6 billion to punish a cigarette company for the death of her husband. And poof, they were no longer her peers—that is, unless they happened to be the only jury in history to be composed entirely of multi-billionaires
I’ve already blogged about this. She won’t see anything like this kind of money.
The only reason I’ve revisited it is a thought I had about the sort of jurors who would even award this soft of amount. Are they insane?
No. They just have no innate conceptual understanding of numbers. Essentially, million, billion, and trillion are all squished together into a single definition: A hell of a lot of money!
You used to almost never see the word “trillion” in print, except for articles on some field like astronomy. But now the word is in common, everyday usage, usually describing some form of horrendous debt the nation or some section of its citizenry has assumed.
And so people have come to think of it the way they used to think of “billion.” Which itself used to represent an unthinkable amount of money. The federal budget in the year I was born was at an all-time high – of $228 billion.
Now that much money is a rounding error. And people tend to think of it that way. Once upon a time, Americans aspired to become millionaires. Now they want to become billionaires. And why not? When some snot-nosed kid puts up a web page at his college, calls it “Facebook,” and ten years later can be worth 33 billion dollars, people tend no longer to think of that as an impossible amount of cash.
So, sure. We’ve got an innumerate jury looking to punish somebody, and so they come up with an award like $23 billion dollars for the death of this woman’s husband due to a habit he could have stopped at any time, if he’d had a modicum of willpower.