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Commentary

If profit is bad, why choose Michigan?
Chuck Moss, Detroit News, 2-28-07

Moss, a representative in the Michigan legislature, points out the irony that Michigan politicians are simultaneously considering lifting a law banning frivolous lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and trying to convince those companies to relocate their businesses into the state.

Funny how the pharmaceutical firms are "big drug companies" when critics are attacking them, but they transform into "life sciences" ventures when the state is trying to recruit them. It's like how greedy trial lawyers become public interest attorneys when it's you who wants to sue someone.

I'm not going to get into the battle between the big drug makers—I mean, the life sciences industry—and the greedy trial lawyers—I mean the public interest bar.

The real issue is whether the legal immunity helps Michigan create enough jobs weighed against the possible denial of meritorious claims against faulty products. But that kind of discussion is no fun.

Instead we were treated to a full populist roar. What the House did was pass legislation to allow lawsuits against companies that produce pharmaceuticals that meet the federal standard and let lawyers file retroactive lawsuits going back to 1996.

But what critics of the current legal immunity did was claim they were forcing predatory barons of profit to march to the bar of justice, where the noble public interest lawyers will force them to disgorge their ill-gotten gains.

For the populists, the case is closed. The people's justice will be served—except for one problem: Now what?

The domestic automakers are downsizing like mad, and we're trying to find some 21st-century replacements. I guess we can forget the life sciences industry—I mean, the greedy big drug makers—because the Michigan House has just legislatively kicked them in the butt.

Michigan wasn't always like this. In its early days, we were congenial to innovation and enterprise. The automotive industry started here because we liked folks who started successful businesses. Profit was a good thing, not a curse word.

We admired those who made fortunes and spread the wealth around their hometowns and colleges. Michigan has a lot of good private and public institutions to show for it.



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