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“Fair” Arbitration Has No Place in America

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If this is the first you’ve heard of a forced arbitration clause, consider yourself a lucky human being because it’s likely buried in the fine print of every consumer-oriented contract you’ve ever signed. Ever bought a cell phone, accepted an offer of employment, taken out a home loan, or had the misfortune of putting a loved one into a nursing home? If so, you probably agreed to forced arbitration.

At the center of its black heart, forced arbitration is a way that corporations have discovered to circumvent due legal process through their willing accomplices in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. But wait, isn’t securing one’s “day in court” guaranteed in the Constitution? We always thought so. Both the wording and intent in the 5th and 14th amendments seem pretty clear about the framers’ intent to preserve the civil rights to life, liberty, or property of every citizen.

In the measured opinion of Jason Hartman and the staff at Holistic Survival, by allowing the private justice system of forced arbitration to continue, the federal government facilitates a nice round of spitting on the Constitution every day it continues. There are a few characteristics of forced arbitration most thinking humans should find odious:

1. There’s no judge, jury, or right to appeal.
2. The arbitrator chosen to hear your case doesn’t have to follow the law.
3. There is no review process to make sure justice was served.

Furthermore, the forced arbitration clause in the contract you signed allows the company you’re having a problem with to choose the arbitration firm and arbitrator; it should be no surprise to learn that it’s often one with which they have an incestuously cozy (and profitable) relationship.

The bottom line is this: if you’ve been harmed by fraud, predatory lending, discrimination, negligence, defective products, or other scams, there’s a good chance you won’t end up in a legal courtroom but rather a judicial perversion of the worst kind. Welcome to America!

What can you do to avoid forced arbitration? Thanks to the way it has embedded itself into almost every product and service you purchase, it’s difficult. You would probably have to make a drastic lifestyle change and quit signing contracts, which just might be worth it. At the very least, consider throwing your support behind the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013, which was introduced by Senator Al Franken. This piece of corrective legislation is the first evidence of brain activity we’ve noticed in the Senator and is quite possibly his finest work since Saturday Night Live.

The text of a letter writing campaign organized by the consumer group Citizen.org can be found here. Read it if you’re interested in what is being done to correct this true travesty of justice.

The Holistic Survival Team


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