This book constitutes a personal effort to summarize some of my more interesting work over the past twenty-eight years. And it has been a unique professional roller coaster filled with highs and lows. The assignments—to help design and administer various special public compensation programs—have been relatively rare; I have been called on just five times since 1984. But each assignment carries with it a highly visible and very public interest. The work is allconsuming. And it occupies an important place in American history.
Who Gets What follows in the wake of my previous effort at explaining the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund: What Is Life Worth? The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11 (PublicAffairs, 2005). Much has happened since then, including the benefits of historical perspective in reexamining the 9/11 fund (Chapter 3). The chapters within are designed to bring the reader up to date with my career.
All of the compensation programs raise profound public policy questions: Why were these programs created in the first place? How were they created? Are they a precedent? What have we as a people learned about the wisdom and effect of these very special programs?