The Arbitration Fairness Act

Here’s some unexpected good news: the Arbitration Fairness Act has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As I wrote last September, the mandatory binding arbitration clauses that are ubiquitous in the service contracts we sign are “as un-American a practice as I can imagine” because they deny you your day in court should you have a grievance. It’s a measure of how well the monied interests have us brainwashed that most of us think this is a good thing — there are too many frivolous lawsuits and too many lawyers getting rich, driving up the prices of everything, right? Wrong. That’s just what they want you to think.

So most of us think mandatory binding arbitration clauses are no big deal, if we ever think about them at all, and hardly any of us do, even though we agree to them almost every time we enter a professional relationship with someone: a doctor, a landlord, an employer. Which is why it’s such a surprise to see opposition to this practice getting a little traction in Congress — in these days of global megacrisis piled atop global megacrisis, the phrase “mandatory binding arbitration” isn’t exactly spilling from everyone’s lips.

So extra kudos to the sponsor of the bill, U.S. Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia’s fourth congressional district, for doing what’s right even when all the oxygen has been sucked out of the room. Let’s show him some love in the form of a token contribution to his campaign fund.

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