Monday, April 23, 2007
More lawyers. Higher taxes. More regulation. More statism. A coincidence?
Legalism's alliance with cultural and poltical Marxism.
It is easy to hate lawyers. Wealthy, arrogant, boring, narcissistic, they are the vultures of society – gorging themselves on the misfortunes of the fallen. You would assume that such lower ranked carnivores would be the anti-thesis of what a communal, socialized culture would hold in high esteem. Yet there are no more fervent infantry in the army of mass socialism than the elitist legally trained elite.
Ironically the practitioners of tricky legalistic capitalism are the most virulent and financially supportive admirers of populist statism. Lawyers are overwhelmingly class warriors and left-wing Marxist idealists. It is no coincidence that the rise in the number of lawyers directly equates into the creation of a legal state – a state that is based on processes; paper; statutes and suffocating government control.
How dramatic is the rise in the legal class? Across the Western world, the number of lawyers on a per capita basis has increased by 2000% in the past 50 years. This influx of legal minds into society is self-reinforcing. Lawyers exist to create standards, regulations, statutes, government programs, labels, human right charters, eco-Marxist adventures and they delight in suing corporations, health and drug companies, and consumer facing companies. All these initiatives call for more lawyers to be processed through law schools. The legal elite is rich and powerful simply because they produced and now control vital areas on the political-cultural and legal high-ground.
One of the main concerns with the US political-economy is of course the societal ravaging by a ravenous and deformed legal system. The legal industry is a self-feeding, self-enhancing monstrosity. In the US the number of lawyers exceeded 1 million for the first time in 2003. This means there is 1 lawyer for every 300 people – about the same number therefore as police officers. The number of people taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is now about 150.000 per annum. This means each year, after attrition or retirement the US will see a net increase of about 50.000 lawyers. The 1 million will soon turn into 2 million.
According to a 2006 Towers-Perrin report, the cost in GDP to the US economy, from its dysfunctional legal system, is about 2.28 % of GDP or about $300 billion per annum. This is the cost in tort claims only. We can add in another 5-10% of GDP in regulatory costs.
Both regulatory and tort costs are out of control. Companies have been forced out of business on specious charges. Medical clinics are shuttered due to high insurance costs and vicious malpractice suits. The economy in all areas suffers from over-regulation and excessive, irrational tort law – costs which are passed on in some form to consumers. In a recent ‘Business Roundtable’ survey of CEOs of the US’ largest companies the predominant economic concern was rising health care costs, followed by litigation costs.
Conrad Black a Canadian entrepreneur and media baron is sued by the US Federal Government in a ridiculous case, premised on a flat stock price and Black’s lavish lifestyle. Neither warrants an expensive law suit. Research in Motion the maker of the world beating Blackberry push-email device is forced to pay $180 million in patent claims to 3 lawyers and their dog who never made a product, never marketed a push email unit, and had no plans to do so.
The regulatory costs of Sarbanes Oxley’s legalistic nostrums, while adding no value to corporate governance, does add 2 % of revenue to a firm’s fixed cost structure – which is passed on in higher prices to consumers, or they are absorbed through lower profit margins or cost reductions. They create another industry of lawyers, writing detailed statutes and controlling audits of firms that are awash in new paper trails, new software systems to track digital information; and new teams of accountants and lawyers to fend off ravenous government attorneys.
The costs in tort and regulation also must be married to the impact on society’s culture. Lobby groups, charters, rights documents, multi-culturalism, diversity, pay-equity, an ethos of no-responsibility; and the creation of a grievance society where any group, minority, or disaffected personality is supported, protected and defended, is deeply damaging to our civilisational psyche. The victim culture permeates all areas of society including ‘protecting’ children from having to tell their parents anything [limiting a parent’s right to know]; ‘rehabilitating’ criminals; and ensuring ‘diversity’ in the workplace or at university [i.e. reverse discrimination].
A case in Alberta nicely summarizes the destructive intent of the new legalistic culture:
‘An Alberta judge has ruled that a construction company discriminated against a man when it fired him from an oilsands project after his pre-employment drug screening tested positive for marijuana. Instead, Justice Sheilah Martin said the man -- a recreational user -- should have been treated the same way as someone with a drug addiction, which is considered a disability in a growing body of human rights case law across Canada.’ [CanWest/ Jun. 29 2006; "Drug testing can be discriminatory, judge rules"’, CBC, Jun. 30 2006].
The above ruling means that a firm cannot decide on the type of employee it wants to hire. It can’t fire someone for drug use. It can’t ‘discriminate’ against a potential employee whose personal culture is contrary to the safety standards of heavy industry, or the professional and cultural ethos of the firm, and the owners of capital. A company cannot protect its own interests and its own rights. For the legal elite corporations are nothing more than immoral constructs to be milked like cash cows, abused like old dogs, or forced into submission through state coercion prettied up with nice Orwellian newspeak such as ‘justice’, 'non-discrimination', and ‘rights’.
The establishment of the legal elite, which now controls much of politics and governance has created many of the icons which now assault civilization and the creation of wealth. Global Warming is an example of a Marxist project designed in part to not only decrease the EU energy cost disadvantage with the US, but also to build another legal-superstructure to manage society. This eco-Marxist initiative is just another sorry example of the seemingly endless creation of legal edifices of control, all of which conspire against civilization and high culture.
‘Legalism’ as a political movement is firmly allied with moral relativity and cultural Marxism, not to mention redistributive socialism. It is a formidable and deeply entrenched set of interests which nonetheless must be dismantled and rolled back. How to achieve this however, poses fabulous difficulties. But it must be done – somehow.
http://www.overlawyered.com/ Great website that details the high cost of the massive US legal industry
A Great book on how legal nonsense wipes out common sense:
Death of Common Sense How Law is Suffocating America, by Philip K. Howard Mar 1996
Costs of Tort law only – excludes regulatory costs.