Thursday, September 07, 2006

The 9/11 "Millionaire" Widows

I'm sure you haven't forgotten the firestorm Ann Coulter created when her book "Godless: The Church of Liberalism" was released. The uproar stemmed from a remark (taken out of context of course) concerning a few 9/11 widows that had actively campaigned for John Kerry. The feigned indignation (actually ignorant indignation as none of the balkers had read the chapter in its entirety) was rampant in the left'osphere...

But a new TV movie and the actual stories of some of the now-millionaire 9/11 widows doesn't paint a much better picture. Some of the stories detailed in the Daily Mail's article The Curse of the 9/11 Widows made me a bit resentful -which is sad with the 5th anniversary looming.

"...When her husband's life was valued at $1.5 million by the Victim Compensation Fund in the months following his death, Eileen rejected the money.

'Congress did a three-in-the-morning session when the country was still horrified, the Ground Zero fires still burning,' she says. 'I felt like it was covert and sneaky, and it was really targeted to bail out the airlines.'

The financial awards were based on the victim's age and potential earnings. Senior master of the fund, Kenneth Feinberg, explains: 'Over the course of 33 months I met about 1,500 families.

'In calculating awards, the law decreed that I take into account pain and suffering. That was the first requirement. The second requirement was that I must take into account the economic circumstances of each claimant.'

The dependants of cleaners through to stockbrokers received between $250,000 and $7 million. The average award was $1.6 million - tax-free - but the widows of high-earners became instant multi-millionaires. In the event, 65 families litigated, while eight, perhaps overcome with grief, did not claim at all.

'I'm not placing a value on the intrinsic moral worth of any victim,' says Feinberg. 'I'm not saying that "Mr Jones" who died was worth more as a human being than "Mrs Smith".'

Yet that was precisely how the news that her husband was in line for a bottom-of-the-scale payment felt to Eileen. 'I'm angry because people should have been compensated equally,' she says. 'I'm a strong advocate of that.'

A feisty, dignified woman of 45, Eileen also objected to having her right to sue the authorities or airlines removed, and refused the award. Robert's children - by his first marriage - wanted to take the compensation, and launched their own action against Eileen. They argued that if she lost a legal case against the fund, they could end up with nothing.

'When I got a lawsuit in the mail, it was just such a knife in my back,' she says. After three years of wrangling, Eileen's step-children won their case, and she was forced to enter the fund - eventually getting $3 million for the family..." (Read the entire article)

What with the entitlement? She's told she's be getting 1.5 million (an amount a policeman wouldn't have made in two lifetimes) and she complains? Why should everyone have gotten the same? Why should anyone have gotten anything other than what was donated? Don't get me wrong --I was more than happy they did...until I read they expected it and complained about how many millions? Looks like Ann may have been spot on.

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