Taking responsibility

What is it about people that makes them think they can make others responsible for their own stupidity? More and more now, you read in the news about someone suing some company or another for something stupid that they did. All because they think it's someone else's fault. True Stella Awards has loads of stories like this.

This morning I was reading in the paper about Phillip Morris settling a case for $2M because some woman left a burning cigarette between the front seats of her car resulting in her daughter getting burned by the subsequent fire. A tragic accident yes, but I fail to see how PM would be responsible for her stupidity for leaving a burning cigarette anywhere other than the ashtray of her car.

Now I'm not advocating PM or anything, or any of their products (especiallyl cigarettes). I just think that in this particular case (granted that I know very little of the details), PM shouldn't have settled. Even though there was no explicit acknowledgement of responsibility, settling out of court always seems to imply responsibility.

People need to take responsibility for their actions and choices, and the consequences and results of those actions. Making other people take the blame for your own stupidity sends society into a rapid downward spiral that benefits nobody except lawyers. They get rich taking the lion's share of the settlement money, the people that sued end up looking like idiots even though they win, and everybody else pays higher prices to cover corporate lawsuit losses.

Wizard's First Rule: People are stupid.