Of torts and termites

It’s always tempting to blame the government for your problems — but suing Uncle Sam over the termites in your carport? That’s what New Orleans’ Harry Hoskins is doing, according to the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR. Why? His city’s termites tend toward the extra-voracious Formosan variety, which were brought over by a US Navy ship during World War II.

To jump-start a lawsuit oddly reminiscent of the massive tobacco settlements, Hoskins claims the government knew there was a problem as far back as the 1950s but failed to solve it. Now, the MONITOR-dubbed “world’s hungriest termite” causes more damage every year than fires, floods, and tornadoes.

To put the termite invasion in perspective, though, Formosans have been spreading from port to port since at least the 1600s, munching as they go. The little devils may be annoying — but this is one class-action suit that makes tort reform start to sound appealing, especially when you consider whose tax dollars will pay for Hoskins’ crumbling carport.


What's going to happen next as the headlines grow crazier and more disconcerting by the day. But we do know the job of an independent, unrelenting press is more important than ever—and the ongoing commitment of MoJo readers to fight for a democracy where facts matter and all can participate is absolutely vital.

If you feel the urgency deep in your bones like we do, please consider signing up as a monthly donor during our fall pledge drive to support Mother Jones' fair and fearless reporting for the long haul (or make a one-time gift if that works better for you). The headlines may fade, but the need to investigate the powerful never will.