I haven't been paying much attention to the 9/11 first responders bill. I figured that we would do what's right; though I couldn't imagine what kind of unique dust would be present at the WTC site. Certainly not asbestos. Still, I figured there must be some sort of scientific linkage for there even to be a James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. John Derbyshire enlightens:
You can start with the eponymous James Zadroga. Who he? Well, he was a New York City police detective who spent some time at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan following 9/11. He developed a cough, so in 2004 the Police Department put him on permanent disability status. With Zadroga’s twelve years’ service, that means benefits around ninety thousand a year, inflation-proofed, all medical expenses covered free of charge. For life, Officer Zadroga being 33 years old at this point. This kind of thing is routine in big-city police departments, one of the reasons that the finances of our states are in such an unholy mess.
That same year, 2004, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund also gave him a cash award. At this point Zadroga was set up very nicely for life, with all the medical attention he could want, all paid for by other people — i.e. by you and me — and a handsome income for doing no work at all. Fair enough, you may say: he was a first responder, and I won’t argue the point.
Then in 2006 James Zadroga died. What did he die from? According to an autopsy report signed off on by New York City’s two chief medical examiners, he died after injecting himself with ground-up prescription drugs in solution — nothing to do with 9/11 at all.
So I'm going to be heartless on this one. Set up a fund, but make darned sure that money only goes to those who were harmed by the conditions at ground zero. Derb sums up:
Now look: We should all be grateful to those first responders who showed up at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Flight 93 crash site. Face this fact, though: We live in a nation where any widespread sympathetic emotion will be milked for cold cash by unscrupulous attorneys. These first responders all belong to well-funded public-sector unions with extravagant benefit packages. There are people here in New York City retired on disability from the Fire Department, nothing to do with 9/11, pulling down $200,000 retirement packages in their fities, with full medical coverage on top. Nobody’s going short of anything here. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund added cream on the pie, as James Zadroga’s own case illustrates.
The James Zadroga Act is a trial lawyer’s scam, just like the Pigford rackets. Oh, would you like to know how many people will get payouts from the James Zadroga Act? Answer: at least 71,000. You didn’t know there were that many first responders, did you? That’s a major-league baseball stadium full of first responders, all with their hands out. Twenty-four of them are from Wyoming, which is a long way from Ground Zero. We know this because we heard it from Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, who has been leading opposition to this shameful scheme.