Agent Orange, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, the Virginia Tech massacre, the 2008 financial crisis, and the Deep Horizon gulf oil spill: each was a disaster in its own right. What they had in common was their aftermath--each required compensation for lives lost, bodies maimed, livelihoods wrecked, economies and ecosystems upended.Read more...
Agent Orange, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, the Virginia Tech massacre, the 2008 financial crisis, and the Deep Horizon gulf oil spill: each was a disaster in its own right. What they had in common was their aftermath--each required compensation for lives lost, bodies maimed, livelihoods wrecked, economies and ecosystems upended. In each instance, an objective third party had to step up and dole out allocated funds: in each instance, Presidents, Attorneys General, and other public officials have asked Kenneth R. Feinberg to get the job done.
In Who Gets What?, Feinberg reveals the deep thought that must go into each decision, not to mention the most important question that arises after a tragedy: why compensate at all? The result is a remarkably accessible discussion of the practical and philosophical problems of using money as a way to address wrongs and reflect individual worth.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-07-23
- Reviewer: Staff
Feinberg (What Is Life Worth?) is quick to point out that his illustrious career as a lawyer "has been defined by disasters and tragedies." Since his work on the Agent Orange settlement for Vietnam vets (which Feinberg declares "the poster child of ‘judicial activism'"), the author has been at the forefront of many significant compensation cases, including the deliberations regarding some of this country's most horrific disasters in recent memory—from the 9/11 attacks, to the Virginia Tech shootings and BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Feinberg has spent his career asking the grim titular question on behalf of those who have lost loved ones or livelihoods, and in the process, he's been involved in provocative intellectual and judicial disputes. For legal scholars, there's a lot here that is by turns fascinating and unsettling: discussions about tort calculations and potential lifetime earnings, philosophical examinations of the value of human life, and investigations into the dark side of corporate cases and the questionable motives of independent compensation consultants. The answers to Feinberg's overarching question are rarely simple, except when it comes to who gets the credit for the reparations; in that case, it's Feinberg. If readers can look past the enormous ego that permeates the text, they'll find an intriguing account of a seldom considered side of tragedy. (June