The Madison County Record May 13, 2015, 8:39am


We understand why Stephen Tillery wants his $10 billion judgment against tobacco giant Philip Morris reinstated. Ten billion dollars is a lot of money, and Tillery's sizable share  is just the sort of thing that would give some insatiably greedy person a big rush.


We even understand why asbestos attorneys suddenly seem sympathetic to Tillery's multi-year quest to enrich himself. If the Illinois Supreme Court accepts Philip Morris' contention that a higher standard of proof should be required to establish culpability for tobacco companies, that same higher standard might be demanded of other plaintiffs – and that, as asbestos law firm Cooney and Conway of Chicago noted in an amicus brief submitted to the high court, would have “wide-ranging implications for tort cases throughout the state, including asbestos cases.”


But what would prompt a quintet of prominent economists to lend their seeming gravitas to Tillery's grabby gravamen?


Georgetown University professor George Akerlof supports the reinstatement of Tillery's multibillion-dollar award of damages against Philip Morris. So do Princeton professor Alan Krueger, former MIT professor Richard Schmalensee, income inequality expert Robert Solow, and Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution.


Akerlof is the husband of Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen. Krueger served as President Obama's assistant Treasury secretary and as chairman of his council of economic advisers. Schmalensee is the chairman of the board at Resources for the Future. Solow was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama last year. Aaron serves as chairman of the Social Security advisory board.


What these five economists have in common, beside their professions, is a commitment to Keynesianism, the long-discredited socialist policy of governmental interference in the marketplace.


Akerlof and Schmalensee are advocates of the carbon tax. Krueger is a proponent of the contingent valuation survey, the dubious method used to assess the judgment against Philip Morris. Aaron favors a single-payer health care system. Solow promotes income redistribution.


Income redistribution? Isn't that what the Philip Morris judgment is all about?

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