Posted by: L | July 6, 2007

9-11 compensation director to give $7 mill to V-Tech victims…

“Kenneth R. Feinberg, the Washington lawyer who directed the federal program to compensate relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, will oversee the distribution of the $7 million that has been donated to Virginia Tech after the April campus massacre, university officials said Thursday.”

More here at the New York Times.

Well, now, this is nice ‘n all…but is 7 million serious money, taking into consideration everything? Let’s see. Our math skills are a wee bit rusty — so please correct us, if needed — but here’s what we figure:

“32 who were killed, about 30 people who were injured during the incident and an untold number of people who sustained psychological harm , ” says the Times gravely.

That would be 62 physically injured… plus, let’s say, six hundred (that’s the ‘untold’ part) for the others. 700 altogether. OK – that’s 7 million minus two zeros (pardon my antiquated methods here…)- which is 70,000. Divided by 7, that would be $10,000 apiece.

A pittance.

But, obviously we have to increase that sum for the dead and physically injured and cut it down by an equal amount for the others. Let’s say we give a $1,000 each to the psychologically damaged. That’s 600 times 1000 or $600,000 there, which is $6,400,000 for the rest. Now we get $64,000 for each physically injured victim.

Hmmm.. that’s more than many sparrows, for sure, but in the circumstances, not too much more.

Are there any other sources that might be tapped?

Says the Times, “state funds typically pay between $2,500 and $5,000.”

Not so good.

Especially when the Times also tells us that 1 million of the 7 has already been spoken for:

“Approximately $1 million of the total donations have been designated by donors toward specific uses, leaving the balance for general use, including distributions.”


What’s ‘general use’ ? Who knows. ..more ceremonies…a fund to keep the President’s PR machine going…more pepper spray for the police….could be anything.
But, let’s be charitable and assume that it’s all meant for the victims.

So back up a bit and do that whole divvying with 6 million, not 7. Or, easier yet, just make it 500 psychologically injured and 100 physically, or 600 altogether. And we still only get about $55,000 for each physically injured person.

That’s a rough and ready calculation. But you get the picture. A lawsuit would do a whole lot better for the victims.

Oh, but unlike the 9-11 deal, the victims could still sue, says the Times.

True. But, considering how high the barriers to suing are in the state school already, I wonder if paying off the victims doesn’t just raise them just that much more.

And the point isn’t only money, is it? These parents know that nothing is going to bring back their children. But a lawsuit might make the state and the school accountable. It might prevent other parents losing their children in the same way again.

And it might tell us what really happened at V-Tech on April 16.


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