Compensation

The particularly British way in which London has reacted to yesterday’s terror attacks has attracted a lot of notice. Stiff upper lip, filling the pubs, all that. And the differences with 9/11 are also obvious: the attack on New York was a true surprise, and was two degrees of magnitude deadlier. There was no way for us to ask, as some Brits have, “Is that the best they can do?”

One other difference popped up on this British blog, in the middle of a live account of the day in London.

“19:16 – Just had an email request for details of how to give charity donations to help the victims. Nothing that I’ve heard of so far. I’d say give it to Oxfam or Make Poverty History – Londoners are fairly well-off. Bunk it to people who matter – the African buggers who were meant to be getting helped out at G8 today. The terrorist bastards have screwed them over more than they have us.”

The massive victims’ compensation payments in the U.S. were, technically speaking, a move to head off lawsuits against airlines.

But the program was also somehow very American in the quick reach for dollar figures and congressional appropriations. The goals of the program were vaguer. Anyway, it remains a such sensitive subject; I haven’t seen a good evaluation of whether the 9/11 victim compensation programs did what they meant to do, and what exactly that was.