B: I’ve never run a business.  I don’t know much about business – indeed, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about it – but is there any reason businesses should not be allowed as much freedom as just about anything else?  I’m not sure why the government feels the need to stick its huge paws on them, but it’s been a centuries-long struggle that the government appears to be winning, due to its use of force on business.

For some reason, business often gets painted by the media as the bad guys.  It seems presupposed that business/corporate types are, of necessity, greedy and selfish.  In many lawsuits, businesses get blamed and fined; for some reason, they are the ones held responsible for certain mishaps, though the responsibility could have rested just as easily with the plaintiff.

Take, for instance, the not-so-hypothetical case of someone spilling coffee that they got at a restaurant on, and burning, themselves.  This person (the plaintiff) proceeds to accuse the provider of the coffee (a business) of warming their coffee to an unnecessarily high temperature and therefore should be held responsible for the incident, since, the plaintiff claims, the burn would not have occurred otherwise.  And yet neither would the burn have occurred had the plaintiff not spilled the coffee due to his own negligence.  So why is the business held responsible instead of the victim?  Why does the victim get a pass for an everyday occurrence but the business doesn’t?

A: If the business continues to make coffee that hot, more and more people would be burned.

B: Or, looked at another way, if more and more people continue to be negligent, they’ll spill hot coffee on and burn themselves.  How do we know, for instance, that the plaintiff didn’t intentionally spill the coffee on himself?  Furthermore, this result does nothing to discourage people against being negligent and generally irresponsible.

There are, of course, myriad more examples of ridiculous lawsuits being won by apparently careless individuals accusing businesses of being irresponsible for those individuals’ own miscues.  And these are well-known, too, as most people recognize (and have become increasingly accustomed to) how shamefully sue-happy our society has become.  For some odd reason, judges and/or juries seem to think that the business is somehow to blame in these cases.  Businesses are run by people; why don’t those people have freedom to run their business as much as those who patronize it have?

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